Toxic Comments: Normalizing Atrocities, a Resistance Post

Bomb-Cool-iconHave you ever been in a public place minding your own business when a stranger makes a rather loud offensive statement?  They didn’t make a statement pertaining to you, but it was a sexist, prejudice, or propagandist statement.  It’s a statement so offensively toxic that it even offended you!

Words were on the tip of your tongue.  You wanted to tell them their rhetoric was hurtful, wrong, and disrespectful of those around them.  Yet, you didn’t say anything.  You think they had a right to voice their opinion.  Besides, if you confronted them, something bad could happen.  Then you have the worst thought of all:  It wasn’t your problem.

Guess what.  It was your problem.  Furthermore, if you’re an American in the age of 45, it’s most definitely our problem.

As it happens, I heard an educator (unrelated to my academic institution) talking at a Starbucks and she made a horribly disagreeable comment:  I make students stand for the Pledge since my husband fought in Vietnam for their right to say it.

I forced myself not to comment, and yes, it was the worst thing I could have possibly done.

Bio-hazard-icon

In the current climate of highly charged hateful rhetoric and actions, I’m learning from my inaction, and I encourage people to calmly and logically shut down ignorantly toxic comments.  Call them a gateway drug to homegrown terrorism (or for a man to stab their fellow countrymen and call it Patriotism).

~Continued after video~

While the educator’s comments aren’t hate speech per se, it’s still a dangerous comment specifically for pure ignorance, which happens to lead to dangerous nationalism, authoritarianism, indoctrination, and even brainwashing.

Paraphrasing from the above Huffington Post video, Americans let those comments slide, we are helping to normalize such thinking.  Kids who hear it will think that toxic perspective is fine, or normal, and we encourage those few of like, small-minds to voice the same opinions.

Here is why that educator’s comments are so disagreeable.

First, the part claiming her husband fought in the Vietnamese war so American students can say the Pledge of Allegiance is revisionist history and has absolutely no basis in fact.

France-Flag-iconThe Vietnamese War had nothing to do with American freedom nor the Pledge of Allegiance.  America entered the war to help the French retain control of their Indochina colony.  When the French lost control and Communists took over Northern Vietnam, the American government found the situation disagreeable and stayed to help Southern Vietnamese take back the North.

Second, anyone who claims they, or their spouse, fought for the American right to say the Pledge drank the crazy people Kool Aid.  Our government’s Enlightenment Era Creators in the American Revolution were those who truly fought for our freedom.  They fought for the colonists’ right to have an equal say in government as part of a living document that also includes instructions for two methods of revolting against those in power.  Not of the idiocy to say a simple Pledge.

Hypothetically, in some bizarre dimension the Vietnamese War had been about American freedom, that freedom would encompass a wide range of freedoms we enjoy in the real world.  They would include the freedom to choose to say or not to say the American Pledge of Allegiance.

As Americans, we take pride in our First Amendment:Paper-icon

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These days, Americans refer to the First Amendment as freedom of speech or freedom of religion.  In the 80s and 90s, I remember it was referred to as freedom of the press.

The original Thirteen Colonies were formed on the promise of religious freedom and a haven from political upheaval.  Basically, their own countries persecuted (i. e., imprisoned or penalized) them because of their beliefs either in religion or politics.

Even today, there are countries – a few more liberal than America – that still penalize people for criticizing their leaders.  Here are twelve of them:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Lebanon
  3. Venezuela
  4. Poland
  5. Turkey
  6. Netherlands
  7. Cameroon
  8. Bahrain
  9. Kuwait
  10. Thailand
  11. Iran
  12. Indonesia

The American Constitution was written so all American citizens have governmental say without the threat of persecution, which is also covered in the First Amendment (…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances).

We have the right to protest peaceably.  If Americans wish to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance, they can without penalization.  Hell, even in the 20th Century, people burned the American flag at protests without legal repercussions.  Why?  Because that is also covered under the First Amendment.

When I substitute in a classroom, I don’t force the students to stand and recite the Pledge.  Any students who choose to sit, respects the rest of the class by staying quiet through the Pledge.  Those who choose to say the Pledge, respects the classmates who choose to sit – as in not shaming those who sit through the Pledge.

Personally, I stopped saying the Pledge because I disagree with the under God part, which wasn’t added until the 1950s as a convoluted way to combat the political concept of Communism.  (Anyone else confused by that?)  Plus, I don’t recite the Pledge as a protest against the current political stupidity in the White House and Congress.  Although, I still stand and face the flag out of respect for my family history.

(By the way, anyone else think it’s overkill to say the Pledge everyday in school?!  Why don’t we say it once at the beginning of the Academic year or each semester?).

Typically, I resume working after the Pledge and ignore the moment of silent reflection.  I think taking a moment to silently reflect – which is code for pray – is a waste of time when people should do that in the privacy of their own home before going to school or work.  In addition, the Pledge of Allegiance is a prayer since it incorporates under God and was originally written by a minister.

I’m not saying the misguided educator was a follower of the Far Right, but I’m going on the assumption based on her comment.  Aside from the confusion over the term freedom, the Far Right (who proclaim themselves Patriots) get a lot of things wrong.

The Far Right likes to take their Nationalism to the extreme.  Perhaps, they believe the Pledge was always recited by school children at least once everyday across the country dating all the way back to America winning independence from England.

bag-books-iconActually, the Pledge wasn’t a classroom ritual until 1892, and America didn’t have an official pledge until the first half of the 20th Century.

It was not until 1942 that Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. One year later, in June 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it. In fact,today only half of our fifty states have laws that encourage the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom!

Forcing children to say the Pledge in school is not Patriotic since it’s considered a form of authoritarianism in a country that’s supposed to be a Republic.  While forces are attempting to change the foundation of our government to an oligarchy and 45 treats his position as a dictatorship, I believe wholeheartedly that this country will always remain a republic, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

I wish I would have said something to that educator, yet I would have done more harm than good.  Unfortunately, I would have yelled at the woman instead of calmly explain to her the wrongness of her statement with logic.  Perhaps, it would have been a futile attempt.  At least, I would have demonstrated that there are Americans who won’t stand for a dictatorial revisionist history.

However, I’m mainly writing about this experience to encourage other fellow Americans with cooler heads to curb both hateful and blind nationalist propaganda.  The more we make these comments abnormal, the less we have to deal with open hate, Patriotic stabbings, and the fear of homegrown terrorists.

Advertisements

For the People Who Cannot March: A Guide to Resistance

orangeAs so many reporters, columnists, bloggers, and (I am sure) some representatives have said since Friday, Welcome to a new world.  Although, it is not a new world.  This is the exact same world it always has been and the exact same country we have always resided.  The only difference is the American people have a misogynist, racist, and xenophobic Orange with a bad combover in the White House.

I can understand why it feels like a new world to most Americans who oppose an Orange representing America.  He has already issued executive orders impacting mortgages, international reproductive issues, and a hire freeze for the Federal Government.  That is only in the last few days.

If you happen to like the Orange (I refuse to call him by name nor will I call him President), than this post is definitely not for you.  Now, some of my fellow Americans of like mind or semi-like mind may feel a little despondent.  They have no clue how to resist the upcoming changes that may negatively affect their lives.

While marching is a great way to show solidarity and dissidence in our country (it seems Struggle-iconlike it is the favored way), not everyone can go out and march.  I feel your pain because I could not join the throngs of people that marched this weekend.  Unfortunately, I did not have the money to go to Washington DC nor could I take off work since I am paid hourly and have no benefits.

Instead, I thought about what I could do to show my objection to the current governing body or any law they would like to pass.  This is the information age where the answers are literally at our fingertips.  Here is what I came up with:

  1. Call or e-mail your representative to let them know what you think.  Are they passing laws you hate?  Are they repealing your right to affordable healthcare also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?  Let them know!  It is relatively easy if you have access to the internet.  (If you are reading this, you do).  Simply Google Who’s my representative.  Fortunately, I did the dirty work for you.  Just click HERE and you can even contact the White House HERE.
  2. You can use social media.  The Orange is always blowing up Twitter trolling whoever sneezes in his direction.  If you have a Twitter account and use it regularly, why not troll him and your disagreeable representatives?  Do you follow news organizations on Facebook?  I do.  Facebook is where I get all my news conveniently condensed into one convenient app.  I read through the news titles, click on the ones that interest me, and read the article.  If it is something that makes me angry and I think my friends should know, I share it with them.  You can do the same.  With the dog and pony show that has been going on through former President Obama’s years and the circus we currently have, the media is all over it.  Although, I would suggest making a specific friends list for anything political unless you welcome an all out verbal fight with your friends who just so happen to like Oranges.
  3. Start a blog.  Writing is a great way to help feel better.  If you want to feel better AND express your opinion in a public forum, I suggest blogging.  Getting a free blog is easier than you think.  If you are not picky about the details and find all the pesky personalization tedious, then pick a template and start writing.  I would suggest at least setting up the social media aspect of your blog page so a notice automatically goes out to your friends and family every time you post.  Plus it gives them the opportunity to like and share your posts through a myriad of social media options
  4. This next suggestion is more being a decent human being than resisting an authoritarian regime.  Remember your fellow Americans that will be affected by future government policies are those who are the most vulnerable.  No matter what their political preference, try to help them out.  Sometimes cooking a little extra food and sharing a meal with your neighbor is a big help.  Other times, it’s being there to listen or offer a hug.  There are small gestures that can make a big impact.  Depending on your perception, being nice to strangers is a type of resistance to a government who refuses to do the important duty of caring for the people.

Now these are things you can easily do at home or in your neighborhood.  What you should never do is talk politics in the workplace.  Frankly, it’s unprofessional.  I know that not all coworkers adhere to this one solid rule and it will piss you off.  Trust me, I had to live through it January 20th when a few of my coworkers just couldn’t keep a lid on their unwelcome political and insulting opinions.  I could not walk away for some of it so I zoned out, which is the advice I give you.  If a coworker decides to express their unwelcome political opinions, pretend to listen and zone out their voice.  I also do work through their diatribe so I can use the excuse that I am super busy.  Sometimes, my coworkers will get the hint I am not interested and walk away.

Most important, we must remember that this crappy government (even the Orange) works for us.  If they do not do what we say, we can oust them next election.  Food for thought and a note of positivity in this questionable time.

Articles of Interest

Newspaper-iconThe Morning After

How to Survive Trump

How to survive and resist in the Trump era: practical things you can do now

Your survival guide to living in America under President Donald Trump

 

The benefits of releasing your inner child.

img_0001At the beginning of the year, I found a passion in adult coloring. I admit there are people who laugh at me when they see me coloring or when I tell them I color. Those people simply can’t fathom a childish hobby having any adult health benefits. I color to reduce stress, which actually works. Coloring also has some other side benefits I never imagined.

Some people think that coloring would actually be stressful. You have to make sure to color inside the lines, pick the correct color, and the picture is finished perfectly.

If I was making a sign to show in public or attempting to impress Picasso, those things would cause me considerable stress. When I’m coloring in my personal coloring book, I have no deadline. I don’t want to impress anyone and I don’t have to adhere to specific coloring guidelines. In this activity, I’m the boss. Who cares if I make a mistake or use an unconventional color?

Sure, there are few people in the world wired like me. My brain goes 100 MPH thinking of at least three different things at the same time (six at most)and I have a penchant for reading a good book while watching TV simultaneously.

I can read your mind, dear reader. You’re thinking that such things are impossible. One person’s impossible is another woman’s daily life.

As you can imagine, meditation is impossible. I’ve tried it and all I showed for it was frustration. In a surprising twist, the act of coloring can cause a meditative state. It helps clear the mind. Being an active person, I should have known my type of meditation would require me being involved in an activity.

Coloring can also help people who suffer from anxiety.

Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art, says Berberian, “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image. It feels safer and it creates containment around their process,” she adds.

It can also be a solace for people grieving a loved one.

For Ledger and others, coloring books offer a real elixir, a way of getting past hurdles — mental, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more-traditional approaches.

Joanne Schwandes, a 67-year-old Silver Spring resident, says that coloring books have boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a tremor in her arm. A Virginia mother says that coloring has helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior. On one Facebook coloring group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using coloring as a tool against self-harming or as a way to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression and other difficulties.

img_0002Adult coloring books are considered a fad just like the many different diets that come and go. People roll their eyes and say it’ll never work when they’re really secretly trying it out in the privacy of their home.

Fads, or bandwagons, generally have negative connotations, an implication that a person should be ashamed to try the fad. When it comes to adult coloring books, the first reaction I get from most people is Coloring is for kids.  Young Adult books are considered for teenagers, but I see a number of adults unabashedly reading them (including me). What’s their point other than their rigid need to label activities and limit their imaginations?

So coloring books are not for everyone. Good thing there are other childish pastimes that are mentally beneficial for adults. Happy playing!

Book Review: Witch’s Pyre (The Worldwalker Trilogy Book #3) by Josephine Angelini

51mq7tagogl-_sx331_bo1204203200_I have been waiting forever for this last installment of The Worldwalker Trilogy. As my readers know, I usually read a book in twenty-four hours. I decided to take this all in and experience the journey at a leisurely pace.

(It did not help that I also had work last week and could not stay up twenty-four hours with the hope of functioning the next day).

The writer did something that I absolutely abhor with her second book, she ended on a cliffhanger.

Lily Proctor and her coven were dropped off somewhere on the West Coast by the creepy bee Woven. They should have been dead, it was what the characters expected, it was what the readers expected (not that I wanted them to die, but it was looking dire).  Yet, that is not what happened. This forced the readers to suffer moths before we discovered why they were spared.

The coven is ushered into a seemingly prosperous city where not everything is as it appears to be. After all, it was run by the bee Woven, which readers know people and Woven of any kind do not mix.  The Governor of this prosperous city, Grace, is highly suspicious since she is the only one who has an “understanding” with them.

I like how Angelini explained the mystery of the Woven, and exactly why they are a problem.

Lily did not disappoint throughout her journey. She stayed strong and did not cross that all important line that would cause the decimation of the human race through the use of nuclear bombs.

If there is anything to learn in this trilogy, it is to not keep secrets – no matter how they might shatter the other person. Although, Lillian keeping a secret from Rowan is why we have a trilogy.

Rowan disappointed me a little from the second book into the third. He does make up for it and at least he realizes his mistakes.  However, Lily’s Tristan does not learn from his mistakes, which is the very reason he ends up dead.  At least his alternative self makes up for his shortcomings, and I was a little sorry that Lily’s Tristen died (even though it was his stupid fault).

The book did not have an “ending” per say. It was more like keeping it open for a spinoff? If this is true, I look forward to whatever the author creates next for the Worldwalker environment.

Banned Books Week

stand-up-_facebook1

Welcome to Banned Books Week, which officially started yesterday! It is a week where people celebrate the 1st Amendment by reading books that are on the Banned Books List. Here are a few classic titles currently on the list. Some readers might recognize them from high school:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

Usually, some people in the US request to ban books because they do not like the language or there is too much sexual content. As Time Magazine’s Sarah Begley reports, banning also “seems to be linked to demographic changes in the country—and the political fear-mongering that can accompany those changes…”

infographic-reasonsinfographic-where

infographic-who

If any of my readers happens to be against banning books, I urge them to read at least one book that either is or was on the Banned Books List. Exorcise the 1st Amendment right to Freedom of Speech.

There are many Americans running around with the pocket edition of the Constitution shouting about their rights being trampled – when they’re actually bigoted idiots (I’m sure my readers know what I mean). Now, it’s time to get back at all the people who would like nothing more than to go into the local library, snatch all the books they disapprove of, and burn them. To my most outspoken readers, I challenge them to take the most outrageous, controversial book they can find and read it in a public place. Let illiterate bigots, zealots, and general idiots know they cannot stifle a person’s right to read a good book of their choosing.

bbw16prompt3

Book Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Review News

 

If you’ve noticed, I’m putting out one book review a day until I get caught up with them.  Recent (maybe not the most recent) books are reviewed first.  Then I’ll get to the older books I’ve already read.

Burning Glass

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

Burning_Glass_coverAmazon described this book a cross between Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.  I’ve read both and I would have to disagree with at least one.

Red Queen is a post apocalyptic novel that has no relevant relation to Burning Glass.  I have no clue why they made the reference, unless they were comparing the complicated love triangle between a girl and two brothers.  If that’s the case, I’ve already covered the fallacy of comparing one small aspect of a novel with another in my Red Queen review.

Shadow and Bone is a better comparison because Shadow and Bone and Burning Glass are steeped in worlds based off Russian culture.  Also, both heroines struggle to control extraordinary powers while battling handsome, crazy evil dudes who think they’re doing good when they’re actually greedy.

The truth is, this book doesn’t have a second adequate comparison.  At least, none that I’ve read so far.

Sonya, our lovely heroine, has spent most of her young life ducking the Riaznin government.  She has an empathic gift, which means she can sense other people’s emotions.  The government uses such people to sense threats to the Emperor.  This position is called Sovereign Auraseer.

This novel starts after Sonya is captured and sent to a special convent that trains seers to control their gifts so they can be used for the good of the country.  A few months into her stay, tragic circumstances made Sonya the new Sovereign Auraseer.

Politics and court intrigue begin when Prince Anton does a little coup planning during their journey.  He doesn’t want Sonya to know, but he’s not exactly smooth with the subterfuge.

Anton and Emperor Valko were separated and raised apart as young children.  Each were taught to be emperor of the land, Valko became emperor because he was the oldest.  This is the basis for the strained relationship between the brothers.

Sonya’s situation brings her into the brother’s strained relationship.  Valko sees her as an understanding confidant among people who couldn’t possibly understand his situation.  While he doesn’t perceive Sonya as an equal nor does he entertain the possibility of raising her station through marriage (that’s just preposterous to marry a commoner with no dowery), he mistakes maniacal dependance for love.

Meanwhile, Anton, the brother Sonya is actually in love with (or so she guesses), exhibits contradicting emotions whenever Sonya is around.  One minute he’s hot, the next he’s cold, and most of the time he avoids her so she can’t read him at all.

As Sonya attempts to control her powers, she must make a moral decision between duty and revolution.  The first will lead to madness and possible destruction of the country.  The other will lead to love and chaos.

First, I have a small technical issue with the book before going into my critique of the characters.

The author’s mistaken use of the word aura to describe Sonya’s abilities.  Purdie confuses the term’s public use as an instinct most humans possess.  For example, When Jane stepped closer to Sam, she could feel is tense aura.

To describe a highly developed sixth sense few people possess, she should have used the word empath.  Aura, in terms of a developed sixth sense, has everything to do with sight.  Someone who has this sixth sense views the energy surrounding each person in terms of colors.  These colors depict what a person is feeling or the state of a person’s health.  Hence, Purdie’s term Auraseer.

The term Purdie should have used for the Auraseers is Empathics.  An empath – person who can feel another person’s emotions in depth – is a more apt description of Sonya’s powers.

I know, it’s a little nitpickie and a debatable topic, but I had to get that out or obsess about it later.

Now to the characters!

I liked Sonya as a heroine.  She was thrown a quagmire of difficult situations and managed to come out stronger for the experience.  Anyone who can handle those two brothers without committing suicide and keeping her sanity is virtually superhuman.  Someone weaker would have given into the Emperor and ended up lost within his emotions.

Valko was a complicated character.  Like Sonya, a reader doesn’t know what to make of him when he’s introduced.  Yet, he allowed greed to make him mentally unstable and blamed everyone else for his actions instead of owning his insane greed.  As an older brother with the weight of a country on his shoulders, I found him very childish, weak, and manipulative.  Furthermore, his irresistible vortex of emotions had a hint of sleaze throughout the book.

Anton was only slightly better than his brother.  He obviously would make a better emperor because he cares for his people.  Unfortunately, the man is confused when it comes to trust.  In my opinion, he trusts normal people easily.  When it comes to a Sonya, he has trust issues.  The author explained this little issue between Anton and Sonya by blaming his upbringing and basically saying he had trust issues with everyone.  That was an extremely faulty explanation.  While his brother didn’t own his greed, Anton didn’t own the fact that he thought Sonya was mirroring his own emotions.  That her love for him wasn’t actually hers.

Honestly, there were parts of the book where I wanted to kick one or both of the brothers in the nuts.  That’s how frustrating they were.

Despite my frustration, technical pet peeves, and wondering why Sonya doesn’t walk away from both brothers, I liked the book.   It started slow.  The story picked up in Chapter Five and I couldn’t put it down after that.  (Usually, I only give a book three chapters, but these chapters were relatively short, which is why I stuck with it longer).  It has earned it’s rightful place on my bookshelf.

I don’t think this book is the start of a series.  Although, I said the same thing about A Court of Thorns and Roses and it’s sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury is due out May 3rd.

Future Book Reviews

***Will not be reviewed in this order.Books-2-icon

  • Insanity (Mad in Wonderland) by Cameron Jace
  • The Glittering Court by Rachelle Mead (April 5th)
  • A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses Book #2) by Sarah J. Maas (May 3rd)
  • Ruined by Amy Tintera (May 3rd)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II by J. K. Rowling (July 31st)
  • The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles Book #3) by Mary E. Pearson (August 2nd)
  • Witch’s Pyre (The Worldwalker Trilogy Book #3) by Josephine Angelini
  • Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
    • The Burning Sky
    • The Perilous Sea
    • The Immortal Heights
  • Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
  • Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
  • The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
    • Ruin and Rising

Want to see what I’m currently reading or curious about past book reviews?  

Go to my Reading Common Sense page.