Category Archives: community

When will massacres matter enough to cause change?

“These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children.” President Obama in statement made following the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre killing 20 children and 6 adults in the school.

Where do Americans stand on gun laws? Gun control?

In a pew poll taken after the assassination attempt on Congresswomen Gabriella “Gabby” Giffords, the country was divided. 49% said it was “more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns” and 46% said it was “more important to control gun ownership.”

After the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, 76% said, “There should be some restriction on owning guns,” according to a CNN/ORC poll.

At present time, roughly half of American states allow gun owners to carry their weapon openly into public places.

Also, making more news recently is the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law really came into the public eye during the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

There are a host of other states with very similar laws.

Florida, as well as others in this list do not have a “duty to retreat” clause which means if you can get away without harm or deadly force but shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. Most of the states with the “Stand Your Ground” law do not have the “duty to retreat” clause. Many of these laws are written in a vague way leaving the law to be used as a “blanket way out” for many shootings.

These laws were often introduced as a way to help “victims” in cases such as domestic violence where victims often felt blocked and unable to flee or ended up shooting their attackers (which happened to be their domestic partner) and found it near impossible to defend themselves in court. When was it okay to kill someone under your own roof?

But, the law has left it open for arguments leading escalating, turning into assaults and then murder to be defended under the “Stand Your Ground” law. What would have been different if a person hadn’t had a firearm on them? What if they didn’t feel it was okay to cry “self-defense” in what would typically end up in an assault and battery case but instead, someone is dead. Has the law been a positive or a negative? Who has it actually helped more?

Guns and politics have become so entwined as the NRA has become more involved through the years with politics, legislation and politicians.

The NRA runs ads campaigning for those who promote their cause and against those standing in the way of their proposed changes in existing laws or future goals.

By funding politicians, their campaigns and having their own people in Washington, the NRA is assured of having a way to get current policies changed or new legislation passed, changed or set aside. The problem is much of this happens without knowledge of the general public both through state government and federal government.

NRA does not run the US government and does not make the choices for what is good for America. That is done through the voters. We vote who we want at both the state level and the national level. Are we listening to what these politicians are standing for and against? Who is supporting them and funding their campaigns? What are their intentions?

Ask yourself why the NRA has had nothing to say since this most recent massacre? Statements have come out from all over the world. World leaders are offering condolences. Many actors and actresses are coming forward and saying things should be done with violence in movies and TV may need to be looked at. Networks rearranged TV schedules following the massacre due to programming that may have been viewed as showing things in bad taste.

Sunday morning talk shows have done numerous interviews and Meet the Press asked any of 31 pro-gun senators to appear but none responded. Silence speaks volumes.

Using the words “gun control” is beginning to sound UN-American. I think doing nothing as we are seeing more massacres, people crying in disbelief as their loved ones are being identified, going through autopsies and realizing their last conversation was their LAST conversation… that is UN-American.

Personally, I can’t participate in ignoring an issue that is continuously being swept under the rug by groups that argue for their freedoms while others are losing their loved ones, their lives and their future or their sense of security. What about their freedom, our freedom?

Weapons used for hunting and sporting do not call for assault weapons or weapons with large magazines that can gun down numerous people (or animals) in just seconds or minutes.

Many assault weapons are not for either of these uses and are only used to promote keeping an argument going instead of coming to an agreement.

Responsible and legitimate gun owners, politicians and people across America need to give pause to this, put politics aside and be able to really look at this very serious issue, discuss it (peacefully) and deal with it.

Yes, there should be limits, laws, background checks and training required. Yes, there should be renewed proof of this at the time of license renewals for each weapon. A responsible gun owner would understand the need for this because they would only want other responsible and trained, regularly licensed gun owners having other weapons as well.

A major argument is that responsible gun owners and legally purchased guns are not the problem.

My first response is I find it amazing that each “responsible gun owner” can speak for all the other “responsible gun owners” as though they meet all the time and know each other very well.

My second response is that is not true. Legally purchased guns end up in the wrong hands more often than these “responsible gun owners” must realize. The ability to purchase guns is far too easy in far too many places. There needs to be universal laws when it comes to background checks, waiting periods, guns and ammo purchases and an assault weapon ban.

My third response is this. ”Responsible gun owners” do not come with a magic chip in them saying they are responsible, will keep their weapons locked up properly, only use their weapon in the absolute necessity that it is needed and will be in 100% tip top emotional and mental condition for the rest of their life. They also don’t have the promise no one in their family won’t get to their weapons or someone breaking into their home won’t be able to do the same. There are no guarantees.

The NRA makes it seem as though guns are the answer to protection and the government and its laws are trying to take that away from people.

For those trying to hide behind the 2nd amendment, they aren’t the ones who control this discussion. The idea however of more guns being the answer has proven to be wrong, dead wrong.

This is a must read article by:  Mother Jones, “More guns, more mass shootings – coincidence?” Their team put together a lot of facts about guns, violent crimes, laws and changes through a lot of investigating on their part. I urge you to look at the numbers.

Also, looking at some graphs put together by Simon Rogers with the Guardian, America is well armed compared to other societies around the world (88 per 100) and our gun violence speaks for approximately 60% of all homicides.

Another argument is not only guns take lives.

True. It isn’t just a weapon that ends a life. It is a person who believes they have a justified reason to do so.

As humans we react many times out of emotion. In many of these cases, there are feelings of anger, hate, revenge, defeat, entrapment and many times nobody knows what set a person off to commit such violent crimes.

The right thing to do, if a person is thinking rationally is to walk away, take some time to think things over, seek some advice or maybe get more details. A lot of times people are going through situations where counseling is needed and has been needed but either they didn’t know it, didn’t seek it or it wasn’t available.

Too often, a gun is too easily available to pick up, steal or purchase.

Not everyone committing these horrible murders/suicides, massacres and violent crimes were “monsters” before these acts. Many times, no one noticed any signs of behavior change, isolation, depression or signs of mental illness. Other times, it was noticed but they were unable to get help or convince the person to get help.

Does that mean people with emotional or mental illnesses are “monsters”? No. It means people with problems need to be able to seek help, get the proper diagnosis, counseling, medications and not be labeled with a stigma as being “crazy”.

If a person in need of help seeks help and receives help, this is definitely not “crazy”. That is the right thing to do and it should definitely be available to anyone in need of these services.

Many people with emotional and mental illnesses can live fulfilling lives alongside everyone else if they are able to get the medical and emotional help necessary. This important issue in our society cannot continue to be ignored. This is a huge gap in our healthcare system leading to economic and many other life issues. It is easier for Americans to access guns than mental health care. Without truly dealing with this, we can’t move forward on dealing with these murder/suicides, massacres and violent crimes.

There are two sides to be focused on immediately without involving political favors, campaigning, lobbyist and self-promotions.

1)      Too many weapons without just purpose or place in our society (other than within our military)

2)      Not enough available care and treatments for those with emotional and mental needs and disabilities.

For those who can’t clearly see these needs, they aren’t focusing on the real problems. They are standing in the way of what needs to lead to a drastic change.

We can’t just cover the cracks or kick the can down the road.

Our biggest war is going on here at home and our children and loved ones are the victims.

What is the difference between these recent massacres and 9/11? We are part of the blame. We vote. We have voices and if the issue isn’t being addressed, keep pursuing the issues.

These victims didn’t have a choice and now their voices have been silenced.

20 children silenced (ages 6 – 7) and 6 adults (their principal, school psychologist, two teachers, and teaching assistants)

This is our country, our communities and our neighborhoods. Those teachers are our teachers and those children are our children.

Speak up.

UPDATE: President Obama speaks at Newtown High School

Must see video below:

Video Tribute “Lives cut short by school shooting” – by: Anderson Cooper and the AC360 Team

 

Add on: “Balloons released to Heaven Among the Stars” Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT.

With love, 

Tribute to Sandy Hook, Newtown CT December 14, 2012

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

Help stop bullying – Bullying affects everyone

Photo by Eddie~S

By speaking up when we see bullying, or talking and letting people know it is not okay to treat others with disrespect or cruelty, this cycle can be stopped.

According to the US Department of Justice and the National School Association of School Psychologist, 10% of students drop out due to repeated bullying and 160,000 students miss school each day due to fear of bullying.

According to the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, the US ranks average amongst 70 countries around the world when comparing 15 year olds in reading, science and math.

The education report and the need for educational reform is not new and while many budgets are under the microscope for getting cut, America’s students may not get the much needed support they desperately need and deserve.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of boys identified as bullies have a criminal record by the time they are 24 years old.

In extreme cases, bullying has been named as the cause of student suicide and student homicide.
With an average student spending 6-8 hours a day at school, if that day includes being bullied or having the fear of being bullied, their learning ability will be diminished.

With this going on, as well as any other typical school distractions, necessary learning of lessons and social development can be missed and go unseen in today’s overstressed society. Unless there is a clear objective to focus on these issues, with the proper attention and involvement and do whatever is necessary to make life changing differences not only for those directly involved but throughout our society, the current generation as well as the future generations will continue to decline.

When the subject of bullying is brought up for discussion, it is often not clear what accounts for “bullying” or that it can often take place online within many social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other social gathering sites or through texting, messaging and email. Cyber-bullying has opened a whole new world for bullies to reach their victims either after having left them earlier or sometimes having never even met them face to face.

Photo by J_O_I_D

Half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

This has turned a person’s home into a place that once used to be a safe area into a place of torment as well. A person can use their phone or the computer to send threatening messages to the victim threatening them in some way or even threatening to harm their family.
What can you do to help?

If you have children or family members with children, talk to them about bullying. Ask them what they know and how they feel about it. Let them know it is never okay. Tell someone. All people should feel safe.

Talk to coworkers and family about doing the same. The more people you know, the more children you know, the greater chance you know someone being bullied or possibly someone bullying. You can help put a stop to this, now.

Every place should be a bully-free zone.

Every place should be a bully-free zone.

Take a stand and help stop bullying in your school, workplace and community. It starts by speaking up and talking with others.

Bullying can be snuffed out by breaking the silence.

*½ of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

*Cyber-bullying affects all races.

*Cyber-bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide.

Stop Bullying Now – ASL

Graduate Students of Gallaudet University in hopes to spread awareness and address bullying within schools and communities, and prevent future harm to children and adolescents.

Great Links:

TakeAStand.StopBullying

StopCyberBullying

ItGetsBetterProject

PeaceBuilders

MakeLaughterCount

Please feel free to comment on your thoughts and/or experiences and subscribe to this blog for upcoming articles. This is an ongoing series and your thoughts may contribute to future articles. If you have not read the previous article,”The time to talk is now!“, I would urge you to do so. Thank you.

Help stop bullying Pt. 1-The time to talk is now!

Photos from "Stop Bullying Now! One Mile Fun Walk"
Photos courtesy of: Mental Health America of NE Florida

According to Gayle Eckerd, CEO of River Point Behavioral Health, “Bullying among our children and adolescents has become an epidemic and something needs to be done now.”

To stop an epidemic, there is often a source where a treatment can be implemented and then spread out from there. But, with bullying, each and every case is different because it is not only dealing with the victim of bullying but also the person or persons behind the act of bullying. It is also looking at what is causing this person to act out in this way and we also must ask a few questions; Why is this becoming such a growing problem? What is bullying? Where does the problem of bullying begin? Who is responsible to address these concerns?

The first question to address is the last one. Who is responsible to address these concerns? We all are. This is a concern for everyone to not only realize but to be part of the overall solution. The first thing to recognize is the problem. Look around. Bullying is not something that only happens on the school playground or during playgroups at the park. It is not something that is happening only amongst our young people. This is a problem in homes with siblings, at school within all age groups. Bullying is a problem within the workplace, within our political system, between parents, between parents and their children and the lists go on. What happens is, it isn’t always considered bullying and therefore the issue is getting beyond our grasp and out of control. But, it isn’t beyond help.

Preparing for the walk, everyone can be part of the solution to stop bullying.

In today’s world, anyone who wants to bully someone else can do so in a buffet of places and even without ever showing their face. Once a person becomes aware of the problem bullying has become in our society, it becomes hard to avoid or overlook this issue. The problem is so many people have begun to accept it as a way of life or have learned to overlook it until the problem becomes unavoidable or irreversible. Too many people are getting physically, mentally and emotionally hurt and many are committing suicide over it or living in silence and unspeakable pain on the verge of a meltdown. But, there is help.

Everyone who participates, tells someone else and the word spreads...
that's a good sign!

On Saturday, May 21st, Riverpoint Behavioral Health in Jacksonville, Florida joined forces with Mental Health America of Northeast Florida to organize the “1st Annual Stop Bullying Now! One-Mile Fun Walk” to raise awareness in their community and beyond.

With 200-250 walkers and their tremendous success, this is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in the battle against bullying. They are reaching out to the younger generation, their friends and families, starting necessary conversations and letting it be known that it is not only okay to talk about bullying but also making it known that bullying against anyone, for any reason, at any age is never okay!

Studies have shown 15-25% of students report being the victim of bullying while 15-20% of students report they engage in bullying. These reported numbers are often low due to victims’ fear of retribution keeping them from coming forward.

Bullying is a form of abuse and can have immediate and long-term effects.

Recently, as seen on the news, reports of suicides have been on the increase due to bullying. Young people who are victims of bullying are more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, have mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders, self mutilation, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, etc.

Youth who bully are more likely to engage in violence, get involved in gangs, criminal behavior and become abusers as adults. These traits can often effect the next generations as well.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has been working to raise awareness of this epidemic of bullying in our country beginning with our local communities. With sponsors like, River Point Behavioral Health who paid for this event, allowing all proceeds to go the Mental Health America of Northeast Florida for their amazing work in not only this event but also working within schools and summer camps, this is an amazing example of what can be done to stop bullying, prevent bullying and everyone can be involved.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has found the necessary treatment is to not only treat the victim but also those that feel the need to bully. There is very often a reason behind the bullying but also to get people talking and raise awareness to this growing problem.

Take time to listen. Take time to talk. Talk about bullying.

The more people who get involved and the more help made available, the better the chances for everyone.

In this series of articles, I’ll share different stories from people who have had their lives affected from bullying in one way or another. The only way to effectively stop bullying is to show its hiding places, bring them out into the open and let people know the best thing to do is speak up and get the necessary help when needed. Let people know it is okay to say they need help because they are not alone.

What many people see as harmless fun is very hurtful and has long-term effects to others. This is bullying. This is causing many people a lost childhood, lifelong trauma, physical harm and as we are learning it is more often leading to suicide. This has to stop. It must stop now.

See the signs, read the warnings and act. Don't ignore what is right in front of you.




The first story is something that is horrible and should be unheard of but it is a situation that very much needs to be recognized for what it is.





This is about a young lady that had been bullied by not only one person but multiple people. She was bullied to the point of victimization in both a medical facility and her family environment. She is disabled and required help for much of her daily care.

During what should have been a 5-day admission to a hospital for medical testing for a diagnosis, she was instead bullied, made fun of, called names and left in unsanitary conditions. In the end, due to the lack of care from the medical staff, the correct tests had not been done which led to a long delay of the correct diagnosis. She said, ““It was an awful experience; the mental games were terrifying and I was stuck there because they did not want to discharge me.”

At the hands of her family, where she should have felt the most secure, cared for and loved, she was instead bullied most by her siblings until she was later sent to live with other relatives. There, she was often left alone as a live-in babysitter, neglected for her own daily medical needs and left to fall into the hands of a family friend who raped her.

When she couldn’t take anymore and tried to leave, she was locked in a room, slammed against the wall, unable to use a phone or a bathroom until she eventually crawled out a window and escaped. Yes, escaped. She said, “You hear about human trafficking nowadays, but that was kind of the case, even within my own family.”

At the time, this woman was wheelchair bound. Since getting better care after these experiences, this has changed. She has chosen to remain anonymous for very clear reasons.


The second story is about Lynda in Parkersburg.

Lynda’s has quite a different side of things. At first, in middle school, Lynda was having a lot of troubles at home and this led to troubles at school. During her 8th grade year, Lynda ran away.

This ended up getting her moved to another relative’s home and also to a new school. The kids at the new school didn’t treat her too well, in fact, they were just mean. She was poked, tripped, had her books knocked out of her hands and threatened about showing up places outside of school. So, she decided to just stay quiet and stay to herself.

In the 9th grade, she moved back in with her grandparents and returned to her old school. However, she had taken on a new attitude. She was loud, mean and a bully now. She wasn’t going to be picked on anymore. She took things to a new level you could say. Name calling and harassing was an everyday part of her demeanor and she’s sure she made the daily lives of some of her classmates a living hell.

“So many things that I look back on in shame,” Lynda says, “I cannot believe the intolerance that I showed back then.”

Now Lynda has her own children and would she never want to see them be bullied”, but she says, “I cannot stomach the thought of one of my kids being the bully.”

Lynda is making this known to help stop bullying.

Many people are stepping forward in efforts to help stop bullying. Below are some excellent links to visit for information on how you can speak with children, friends, coworkers or reach out for help.

Please feel free to comment on your experiences with bullying and how it has affected your life as well. Together, we can help in the effort by sharing information, speaking up, getting help and bringing an end to bullying in our own local communities which will prevent more victims and help save lives from the hurt or worse, from the loss of life. Please pass this along and keep an eye out for part 2 of this series.



AHMIR ANTI-BULLYING VIDEO – “Perfect”
Purchase this song on iTunes and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Make Laughter Count foundation (an organization that brings comedians & entertainers together to increase awareness about bullying and raising funds for charities)




SEE PART 2 OF THIS TOPIC



Help stop bullying Pt. 2 – Bullying effects everyone




Please see links below and feel free to share comments below.



StopCyberBullying.org

TakeAStand.StopBullying

ItGetsBetterCampaign

StopBullying.gov

PeaceBuilders.com

TheTrevorProject.org

WelcomingSchools.org

Let’s Move.gov

Teach for America

MakeLaughterCount

America’s best days are ahead

"Sea to Shining Sea"
Photo by: dgroup

In our homes, our neighborhood schools, local businesses, communities and across our nation there have been conversations about the need for improvements in many areas of day to day life and the future of America.

Although when traveling through American cities or the rural communities which link our nation together, things may appear at first glance to be different, most Americans have the same basic needs in life and many share the same values and goals; family, home and having a better future for their children.

However, it’s not the differences within these communities that bring the divide to the nation. The diversity of cultures, religions and race have made America a nation that stands out unlike every other country in the world. These differences however can also be used as a tool to bring weakness and divide.

Many issues our country continues to face have come about through history and in instances, such as slavery, laws have been enacted after many lives were lost and many injustices were carried out but also heroes came to the forefront of our American culture to show that good can triumph over evil if people are willing to get involved and stand up for what is right even when it may not be popular or have anything to gain for them personally or may possibly bring them physical harm even costing their life.

Through history, lessons can be learned and the worst possible thing to do would be to revert back to old ways or act as though they never happened.

History should never have to repeat itself to prove wrong doesn’t make right and to again show one human is not above another human, not by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or economic standing.

Instead, as American and World History are taught in our schools, it should include the fact these lessons in history can and should be what makes America a stronger nation and each culture and religion represented in America should be the ties that bind us as an even greater, more unique nation of the future with goals that represent our strengths and ambitions and look out for the humanity of everyone across our nation.

On Saturday, January 8th our nation suffered a tremendous tragedy in Tucson, Arizona when a 22 year old man opened fire at a shopping center, shooting a U.S. Representative, a Federal Judge, and 9 year old girl as well as countless others in a few short moments. In the end, 20 people were shot and 6 lost their lives including one of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ aides, Gabe Zimmerman, Federal Judge – John Roll, Dorwan Stoddard – who used his body to shield his wife from being killed, Dorothy Morris – who was there with her husband of 55 years, also shot but survived, Phyllis Schneck – a loving mother and grandmother who loved her community, and Christina Green – a 9 year old who wanted to meet her Congresswoman and someday participate in Government.

The news of this horrific event ripped through the media on TV, radio, online social media, etc. causing a great deal of grief, confusion, anger, unity, memories, panic, just so many different emotions.

An outpouring of prayers and wishes poured out across America for the families of the victims and those who had suffered injuries and were being rushed to nearby hospitals. So many questions were being asked but there were very few available answers.

Different news agencies were trying to gather facts and at times, there were reports coming in and then being reversed due to wrong information. There was also a great deal of information coming in that was being driven by emotion and reaction but not backed up by facts because the shooter hadn’t talked nor had enough time passed to give investigators an opportunity to put together the facts.

What happened in Tucson, Arizona is an inexcusable tragedy and by no means can be something that defines who America is but what America, as a nation, is not.

For those who used their media outlet and time before this awful event to campaign Americans against Americans will hopefully see America is a United Nation. For those who look at our nation as citizens against their government, America is a civilized democracy.

People can have different ideas, different goals and debates but as a people, Americans should be looking out for the good of one person as much as for the good of another person, one family as much as for the good of another family.

Americans should look past each other’s party, race, religion, Ethnicity and to each other’s goals, ideas, needs and future and see it as America’s future, their future.

America’s best days are ahead. It is within this great nation, our great nation to accomplish what is needed to move forward and to move ahead into the future. The idea is to work alongside each other and alongside other nations, to draw on our strengths and not focus on the weakness of others.

Our nation is made up of our people, all of our people and for America to truly be as great as it can be, our nation must unite and work together for the common goals of everyone.

As different as many may be, that is also our strength when used correctly and for the right purpose.

In the face of tragedy, unity is often seen, but everyday unity can be shown.

Examiner link

Is Obama’s faith really the issue?

During the 2008 campaign, even earlier, Obama was questioned multiple times about his religion. Now it is all over the news again as the November 2010 elections near. Is it because it is truly a concern or because it is a campaign tool?

It is true, President Obama’s father was born in Kenya, raised as a Muslim but Obama’s father had lost his faith and become a “confirmed atheist”. Later, his mother married an Indonesian man, Lolo Soetoro, a “non-practicing” Muslim. None of this makes President Obama a Muslim.

For over 20 years, Obama has professed to being a Christian and has spoken publicly of his “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”


Video – Obama’s Christian Faith (unedited)




Anyone who comes out and makes a public statement on their religious belief and faith and then has numerous people turn around and say otherwise has just been called a liar. This is what has continuously happened time and time again, not only by individuals but by different journalist, religious leaders, radio commentators, talk show hosts and news organizations.

Also during the campaign, one of the churches Obama had attended, Trinity United Church of Christ, was the center of much controversy due to Reverend Wright and some of his sermons and statements made to the press. The issue came up whether his radicalized views would have had any effect on Obama during his time of attending Wright’s church. There were mixed reactions but the more Wright spoke out, the more negative the reactions became. After multiple statements of Wright’s were released, Obama stated,” I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit.” He went on to say “Let me repeat what I’ve said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.”

On May 31, 2008 Obama resigned his membership from the church.

U.S. presidents throughout history have chosen to attend churches in the D.C. area and during the time prior to the Obama’s arrival, churches in the area and even outsiders were eager to learn where the Obama Family might pick to choose as their place of worship.

Although Ronald Reagan did not attend church during his presidency, he had different spiritual advisors, one of which was Billy Graham. Reagan said it was a hassle for the church to set up security screening for all of its parishioners. The Clintons drove down the street every Sunday to Foundry United Methodist and Chelsea sang in the youth choir.

George W. Bush was never a regular member of any local church. He preferred to mostly worship in the chapel at Camp David, Evergreen Chapel.

At this time, President Obama has been following George W. Bush and worshiping at Evergreen Chapel as the primary place of worship with his family. After a 5 month search by Obama, White House aides, family and friends, this seems to be the best place. Due to security issues and the fact even longtime members were not able to get into their own churches because of long lines and feeling as though a person was worshiping on display was all part of the decision.

Although, it has been said, the search for a D.C. church continues.

When it comes to a person’s faith, it is a personal choice that is made by that person at a time when that person feels lead to make the decision. When asked what their religion of choice is and an answer is given, calling them a liar or questioning them seems senseless and Christianity is faith-based. For a Christian to question another person’s Christianity shows a lack of their own faith and for the Christian Community to continue to stand up and question the presidents walk with God after he has publicly said he has a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” shows a lack of faith within the Christian community. Does one Christian typically question another Christian?

To become a Christian, it doesn’t matter who your Mom is or who your Dad is. It doesn’t matter where you were born or where you were raised. It doesn’t matter what your past is or what your job is. But by faith, you can ask Christ into your heart to live within you and forgive you of your sins. It is having a personal relationship with Christ.

You see it doesn’t matter if you were Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic, Atheist or whatever. A person can always become a Christian. A Christian doesn’t have to be someone that is wearing a sign saying they are a Christian or out yelling at others that they are a Christian and someone else isn’t a Christian. That doesn’t make someone more of a Christian or a better Christian. Going to church every Sunday doesn’t make someone a better Christian. What matters is the person you are and how you are treating others and living as Christ would want you to. Being full of hate and causing others to be the same way doesn’t seem to be a very Christian thing to do.

If someone says they are a Christian, who is someone else to say they aren’t or say they are lying?

God?


Video (34 minutes unedited)



This video is very worth viewing, especially with the way things have been recently.

In 2008 Obama spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He spoke about Unity, deficit of morality, empathy deficit and about the problems with people looking too much at the differences of others and not their likenesses. He spoke about politicians and media exploiting these issues. He goes on to say in this 34 minute video to say we each carry the challenge to change this. “We can’t build ourselves up by tearing each other down.”

Recovery for America Pt. 3 – Is education a priority?

In the last article of this series, “Education Reform”, the different issues concerning education in America was looked at and some of the changes currently being made were focused on. Please take the time to read over the previous article. Is education a priority in America?

In the United States, nearly 6.2 million students dropped out of high school in 2007, according to a report by the center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, Illinois. Why?

Students across the nation drop out for different reasons. In some areas there is gang violence, racial issues or drugs. Other students lose interest due to poor grades, lack of incentive, situations at home, lack of teacher involvement or the loss of ambition and many times due to outside influence.

Many people believe the students dropping out are low achievers but actually quite often, they were receiving high tests scores and just felt unmotivated and uninspired. These dropouts could have been avoided by more challenging work and more relevant studies as well as more positive influences.

Of course, there are those that drop out due to failing grades but even then, the question is who is failing who?

The fact is education is a necessity for a productive and successful life. This must be a priority for everyone including children, parents, government and community.

It is a must for everyone to work together from the time each child begins their school years till they complete their schooling. A parent’s involvement not only helps to keep their student motivated but also helps enforce what goes on at school. Understanding what the school expects and what homework assignments are being sent home helps keep the student more on track and allows the teacher and school administration the ability to communicate any concerns or feedback to the parents or guardians. Communication is a key element and allows even more possibility for the student’s potential to become that much more attainable.

In a student’s high school years, many freedoms come their way with more activities, a different type of high school schedule and many students will start driving and possibly working a part-time or even full-time job.

However, it is during this time many students find their education and goals starting to collide or become unclear. Teachers don’t always have the time to personally interact with their students and in larger schools especially, a student can feel more in the background and unsure of what their future holds.

With less personal interaction from teachers, and parents becoming less involved due to their child seeming more independent now being in high school, grades and goals can begin to diminish. It is during this time when students need more interaction and help with setting up their plans and keeping up with their grades, school attendance and graduation requirements.

What about the United States standard graduation requirements? Over time, the U.S. has dropped in education throughout the world. Not only should our students meet the graduation requirements but our students should be able to face the world, head on.

In order to do this, we as a nation need to make education a top priority. Our students need to not only learn the basic requirements to graduate but also how to face a situation, think and resolve, form ideas and opinions and learn about the world and its people around them. Our students need to be inspired to excel in all they do and go beyond what is expected because they want to exceed in the world. The tools need to be there for them to live up to their full potential.

For students to achieve in school and regain our standing in the world, this needs to be a national priority. With voting coming up, let your candidates know where you stand. Let them know this is a top priority. Let your school know this is a priority and you plan to be involved starting this year. Education in America must return to a top priority for the sake of all students and the future.





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