I appreciate people’s views, opinions and concerns. I think those are what have driven America’s progress the most. Without those voices of the past, we would not have the freedoms to have our voices heard today.
However we share our voices, whether it be through writing, TV, radio or to those around us. The fact is, we have the desire within us to be heard and in this country, we have the right.
In many countries, that is not the case. Those rights did not come to us without fight and by others giving up their freedoms and their lives. How we use those rights and our freedoms should never be taken lightly.
I have always been one to see things through the eyes of many, not just myself. I believe that one’s freedom can not be enjoyed with another person enslaved. Justice is not won if an injustice is being done and ignored. I see that and I do not take that lightly. That is why I do what I do.
Choice is a freedom. Choice is the ability to make a decision. For someone to take that away is to take a freedom away and we have fought too long to earn those rights.
In today’s politics, it seems like there are sides. People are choosing or picking who will win this election. It is much more than sides or winners and losers. When people vote without knowing what they have to gain or lose, they have already lost. And, when people vote for a candidate knowing their win will mean freedoms are lost, what does that say about America’s freedoms? How easy is it for us to give up the freedoms of others when we feel it does not agree with our beliefs?
What if that were the way America started to work? No more separation of church and state? Church telling government how to make the laws and government telling churches to pay up taxes and what they can and cannot preach. Church and state getting into conflicts over schools. Haven’t we crossed that path?
It is called progress. It has enabled us to allow people to make choices, to find the way to move forward equally, allowing freedom of religions and freedom of speech in a nation that is more diverse than any other nation in the world.
Who would want to back up progress that has already been made? Who would want to repeat history when those times of turmoil have been fought and lives have been lost so that we can be where we are today?
We have chosen to move forward and live in a nation of progress that believes our diversity is a value and with freedom, we have more opportunity. Our country has shown how valuable freedom is and in turn, it cannot truly feel free until it is shared by everyone. Humanity is one.
As we countdown to the elections, there have been many moments that stand out. There are great moments, confusing moments and those moments that will be remembered forever.
There couldn’t be a more important time in America for people to come together and hear out what each side is saying at their campaign rallies, conventions, the upcoming debates and really be able to make an informed decision in November.
This is not an election of which Party to put into the White House but a choice of a leader for our Nation as we continue to work on strengthening our economy, building a better future for our children, putting quality and affordable healthcare in the reach of everyone, advancing our educational system to stay competitive in the world and making sure our service members, military families and veterans have their needs looked after from the time they enlist and each day after.
To lead America into the next 4 years, it means leading and listening to ALL Americans while respecting their lives and the diverse backgrounds many come from as well as the diversity within the United States of America. Without this diversity in our Nation, our great Country wouldn’t be what it is today. Pride in our Country starts with pride in its people.
There have been many speakers at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida and now the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. There has been a great deal of finger pointing, looking back at what hasn’t worked, talking to an empty chair (?) and in the Republican Convention there was a great deal of what seemed to be self promotional speeches.
The fact is, this is a time to make a point, take responsibility, state what their nominee’s plan is to move forward and nominate the person for each Party. At the end of these conventions, voters should know more about what each candidate would do to improve the lives of the American people as well as lay out some type of an idea for their overall policies. Give a glimpse into the future if they were to be the one sworn in as President of the United States in January 2013. This is not a race to win or a “family feud” of sorts. This is serious business. Can this person lead? Can this person represent the American people?
When it comes down to it, the decisions made in the past have laid down the groundwork for opportunities today. Without strong leaders, much of what our Nation is known for would not be in existence today. Many freedoms we often take for granted would not have come about. To be a great leader means working to improve the present while also taking into account lives in the future, not taking for granted what has been fought for in the past and respecting those who have given of themselves for the freedoms we have today.
Between now and election, there will be a LOT of targeted ads running on TV. A good deal of them are being put out from special interest groups saying they “represent” one side or the other. Their point is not to give facts but to get votes. They don’t care if they are misguided votes. A vote is a vote. They have money to spend and they aren’t spending it to educate the American public.
In today’s age of technology, it has never been easier to sit down and watch a speech, debate, read a full dialogue or look up anything a person may have missed during the day or week. Why take someone’s word for what was said? See things, in full for yourself. A vote shouldn’t be made based on emails received, clips on the news, coworkers ideas or based on Party affiliation.
Each candidate has their own website and many of their speeches are posted shortly after they are given along the campaign trail. This enables voters to see for themselves what is happening as voting day gets closer.
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!
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)
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.
America is a nation that was built on diversity. It wasn’t something that was a choice or a point in the nation’s history where a vote was held to allow immigrants to start coming in. No, America has been a land of freedom for immigrants all through the many years of its history.
Having people from all around the world living and working in one country, with different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs means an absolute necessity to come together with respect, tolerance and understanding. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to become who the other person is but it means that each person does need to understand each others’ differences and learn to respect those and realize that each person has many likenesses and common goals which is what drives America to move forward.
America has always been known as the land of opportunity and has been looked to for its great medical advances, technological advances, freedoms and many other qualities that have been part of what has made America a place of growth, opportunity and achievement.
What gives that edge to America? America has qualified input from its citizens and residents that reside here from all over the world. Everyone that comes here brings with them their expertise, their dreams, goals and determination to have a better life. Whether they come here to be a doctor, a scientist, a student, an engineer, a chef or whatever they desire to be, they become part of the American fabric.
Too often, a person is judged by the way they speak or the way they look or by what part of history their culture or religion has played in America’s past but has that individual personally been part of that history?
Why should they be judged? Why would their religion be held responsible for a group of extremist?
Throughout America, look around, there are many different people. Different races, cultures, religions and with each person there is a story. Until people take time to talk to each other, there is no way of knowing who the other person is. There is no reason to judge someone without knowing that particular individual, not by something that someone said or what someone may think but by talking to them and knowing them individually.
Without this effort and getting to know those around this great land of diversity and culture, a lot of what America has to offer is being put to the wayside and being wasted. So many people are in the shadows. Showing respect, tolerance and understanding may be the best thing to start moving the U.S. out of the struggles it seems to be stuck in. This is not just something to learn when it comes to working within different cultures, races, religions and beliefs. This is also true when working with anyone, for any reason. This is true within our political parties, our Congress and our House. This is true in our schools with our young people. This is true within the workplace. This should just be part of daily life in America.
It starts with wanting to make a difference, stop arguing, end hate and intolerance and be willing to do what it takes to move America forward and making life better for everyone and each generation to come.
The best America has to offer may be one conversation away, one handshake away or one smile away.
Everyday there are more stories, news coverage, talk between friends and families about issues that are not only dividing the nation but are also dividing people, even causing arguments between complete strangers. The discussion is over the building of the mosque (Islamic Center) at Ground Zero.
The online social media website such as Facebook and Twitter show these divisions as well. On Facebook, soon after a ”hot topic” news story runs, the headlines or video clips will post and the comments themselves become a place for open arguments going back and forth, lines drawn down the middle. On Twitter, “hashtags” which typically are names to form groups, can often be used to make a clear point or in 140 characters or less, a clear confrontation can take place back and forth for all to see or jump in and join.
What are the issues? The arguments are more often about things that have nothing to do with things that a person can change or have control over and more about things that fall into a person’s constitutional rights, religion, race and a person’s national origin. What’s different about these arguments is the social media and the internet’s ability for things to swell up much quicker into larger groups of both support and hate, so both sides seem to grow much larger overnight. Both good and bad information gets passed around much quicker and what is said on the news, on a website or in an interview makes its way around the world in a moment. However, most often good things don’t go “viral”. Bad news travels fast.
As each new generation begins, it has been a new opportunity to bring up a more open-minded generation. That does not mean a generation of people that “give in” or a generation that does not understand its culture. It means a generation that does not carry with them the burdens of intolerance but a generation that has the ability to see each other as who they are and not what they are. A generation that sees people for what they bring to society and not what a group of them has done or what has been done to them. It is okay to understand history but not let history control the future but to learn from history and not allow it to repeat itself.
With the U.S. having such a diverse people within its borders, there is only more to gain, more to grow and more to learn. By having so many adverse feelings against each other, it is only hurting the nation as a whole and many opportunities are being lost for everyone.
In NYC, many people are upset about the idea of the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. This has been an extremely sensitive subject for so many.
President Obama released a statement on a person’s right to practice religion this past Friday.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has risen in New York City and the nation.
“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”
The plan now is to turn the property into a 13-story, $100 million Islamic Center. This is being developed by a group call the Cordoba Initiative. The Cordoba Initiative says on its website that its goal is to foster a better relationship between the Muslim World and the West, “steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions.”
The Center’s board will include members from other religions and will explore including an interfaith chapel at the center.
The Center will include a basketball court, swimming pool, auditorium and culinary school as well as a mosque and mediation rooms.
We believe it will be a place where the counter momentum against extremism will begin, “the Imam’s wife, Daisy Khan to the Associated Press. “We are committed to peace.
Across the U.S., different towns have rallied against mosque being built as well. This isn’t just in NYC near Ground Zero. In Temecula, California, opponents brought dogs to protest a 25,000 sq. ft. mosque that would sit on 4 acres. Opponents say it would turn the town into a haven for Islamic extremist, but mosque leaders say they are peaceful and just need more room to serve members.
A proposed mosque in July is raising concerns in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Proponents allege the opponents are displaying religious intolerance while people fighting the mosque say zoning issues and worries about Islamic radicalism are their chief concerns.
Several hundred opponents faced off to counter protesters. The rhetoric was heated. Protestors bore signs with slogans such as “MOSQUE LEADERS SUPPORT KILLING CONVERTS.”
Mosque leader Essam Fathy, who helped plan the new building in Murfreesboro, has lived there for 30 years. “I didn’t think people would try that hard to oppose something that’s in the Constitution,” he said. “The Islamic center has been here since the early 80’s, 12 years at this location. There’s nothing new except it’s going to be a little bigger.”
Zuhdi Jasser, president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a nonprofit that advocates for reform and modernization of Islam, said opposing mosque is no way to prevent terrorism.
A study by professors at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina back up Jasser’s statement. The study found that mosque, religious bookstores, and other communal associations that bring Muslim-Americans together, prevent radicalization.
By taking the time to learn and understand a person, their religion and culture, it gives more of a chance to grow and develop in one’s own life as well as allowing one to accept a person more for their character and who they are and not judging them by who one thinks they are by their appearance, misunderstandings or what may have been heard by someone else.
Today it may be someone else being unfairly judged, someone else’s religion, race or culture. The hateful words may be directed at someone else. Those tables can be turned. Intolerance is never okay. Hate is never okay. Discrimination is never okay. Sitting by while a hate crime happens is never okay. Embrace our diverse Nation and learn about others, their culture and religions. Practice tolerance and pass it down to the younger generations.
The Bay Area and its surroundings are what postcards are made of, not only for its natural beauty and historical areas but also for the numerous amusement parks and endless shopping availability. The Bay Area has it all. For the Bay Area’s residents however, this is just a few of the many assets to their advantage.
In a follow-up to my previous article, another asset the Bay Area has is its rich cultural diversity. To go around the Bay Area and its surrounding counties, it is easy to find nearly any type of ethnic cuisine a person would want or any grocery item for a recipe. There are constant festivals going on and this of course, is a popular tourist attraction as well. But, it has been so much more for the area’s history and it can be an even greater asset to the Bay Area’s future.
To grow up around diversity is to have a chance of growth everyday in one’s life with the development of key skills necessary in life such as compassion for others, tolerance, understanding and the desire to reach out to learn, educate, help and be there for each other every day for anyone. It’s a chance to build core values as well as to learn about different cultures having not even traveled to those distant places. It is having a chance to see a friend as a friend and a doctor as a doctor and not looking at them differently because of where they may be from but smiling and loving them just because they made you feel better. That’s what it was like for me growing up in the Bay Area.
The future of the Bay Area and its opportunities are all still there and even more so because of the growth that is happening by leaps and bounds. Also, the cultural expansion is even more diverse than ever before. When someone brings their profession from someplace else, let’s say to the medical field, engineering, communications, etc, they bring with them their outside expertise. As an American travels abroad to work, they take their expertise with them to help overseas. This is the same thing, yet reversed.
The Bay Area has the opportunity to be the leader in how to make diversity work for everyone and to show this both locally, nationally and internationally. Although than words can make changes, actions will make a remarkable and lasting difference. By making efforts in the work place, in schools and just around town, word will spread. Changes can happen on Twitter in 140 characters or less quite rapidly as everyone has seen. Good changes are the ones the Bay Area wants to get noted for and right now, the U.S. can use positive example. Tampa can be the positive influence for the state, the nation and the world.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
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