Tag Archives: @tracysolomon

Begin Within

Do you hear that? The silence.
Do you see that? The dark.
Those glances, so scolding.
Cold whispers leave marks.

Do I know you? No name.
Have I wronged you? You reach.
All I ask is conversation and
practice what you preach.

Divisions bleed existence
Is this what you seek?
Life drained from society
Hatred on a constant leak.

You matter. I matter.
We fight while they fear.
Constant anger and confusions
As nighttime draws near.

Words unheard.
Do you hear me?
Protest and hashtags.
Do you see?

Where to start, to begin?
Look inside.
Begin within.

#BeginWithin
#BeTheChange

By: Tracy Solomon

Repost from February 2013- Is there a solution to gun violence? 

Simply asking that question will not resolve anything but facing and making adequate and lasting changes can lead to actually saving lives.

Most recently, the focus from the media, political leaders, gun rights activists and many others have not been focused on long term needs or solutions but rather on short term story lines, misleading voters and pushing policies as well as allowing misunderstandings which have led to surges in firearm sales.

The story of the century would be a day without a death from gun violence or even more so, violent crime. Sound impossible? We are driven to think that way.

The sales increase of armed weapons proves this. There are many statistics on the amount of weapons in the U.S and the surge in sales but the fact is many guns aren’t registered. However, the increase in background checks shows the surge in sales and a lot is due to the speculation of what may change with new laws or regulations.

Although a majority of gun owners agree with the idea of stronger background checks, many loopholes in laws already in affect allow around 40% of sales to go through without background checks. If these issues were dealt with, would that resolve the problems at hand? No.

The majority of gun owners were well intentioned weapon purchasers. It was never their plan
to allow the weapon to get into the wrong hands, use the weapon in any way other than the
way it was first intended and certainly to abide by all laws when purchasing their weapon,
ammunition or laws pertaining to either.

This part is simple. At least it should be.

The 2nd Amendment is brought up in a great deal of discussions, arguments and as much as it is a part of this topic, it is also a big part of misguided discussions and a detour from what should be brought to the table in this matter. 

There is very little brought up about our responsibilities for our rights and freedoms and the effects of change over time. You see, it is clear today the person next door, at the office, in the church or at school may be planning something nobody could have imagined or possibly be the victim of the next violent crime. How are we to know? How can society better prepare or better prevent more deaths from these types of crimes?

Does it help when our congress continuously makes every effort to show their unwillingness to work together, compromise or communicate to efficiently get things done for those who elect them?

Does it help when people are looking for an end to gun violence in some way and a leadingorganization like the NRA comes out and takes no responsibility but instead points their finger at others? Why not accept some responsibility and work together? It is clear many NRA members do not agree with the NRA’s standing.

Does it help when our society is flooded with violence in its gaming and entertainment industry?

Do attacks on Facebook, Twitter and many of the Social Media websites help at all?

It has been made very clear bullying leads to aggressive behavior, violent crime and yes, massive shootings and often ends in suicide. So why add to that? Why attack those speaking out against violent crime and gun violence?

Does any of this help? Obviously not!

A crime very rarely starts at the moment of the attack, shooting, kidnapping, “random” event,
or murder/suicide. Our society has become self-centered and comfortable with shrugging of responsibility, passing the buck and expecting someone else to fix the issue. That is the issue. Our rights and freedoms should never cause others to live in fear. That is not freedom.

The reason gun violence is more an issue of violent crime is because that is what most often leads to it.

Life is very fast paced, more so now as many people must multi-task, never taking time to slow
down. As our economic tensions are high in the U.S., many people are financially over burdened. 

Personal lives, finances, work conditions, health conditions and the constant feed of
information can leave many people at a constant breaking point.

Emotionally, there are many struggling from childhood through adulthood, just to fit in or keep their private life out of the public eye in fear of rejection.

There is a major ongoing need to unwind in a society that is less willing and sometimes unable to allow that to happen.

As much as someone may be a responsible gun PURCHASER, there are many changing and unknown factors which come into lives leaving many gun owners unaware of how dangerous having a readily available weapon may have become. So many think nothing will ever happen to them to take them to the breaking point but the news tells the other side of that story. Nobody can be foolish enough to say something could never happen to them. That is someone that shouldn’t own a gun.

The only way to actually make our society safer is for everyone to take responsibility for our part. We ALL have a part. The idea of more guns and less regulation is not the answer. That breeds fear and fear breeds crime. This is not one side or the other, a political rival or even a statement for or against gun control.

It will take more than gun control, gun laws or regulations to see this through but isn’t this worth it? Violent crime death does not see race, economic status, neighborhood, political party, age or anything. That has been very evident as we have watched recent deaths in just this year alone.

Understand, this is more than gun violence. It starts before someone picks up a gun so everyone is part of this solution.

NRA, that includes gun control and regulations. Just because it starts before someone picks up a gun doesn’t mean a weapon should be laying there for the wrong person nor should any weapon be there that can commit mass murder because it was available.

We all need to step up.

Is There A Solution To Gun Violence?

Simply asking that question will not resolve anything but facing and making adequate and lasting changes can lead to actually saving lives.

Most recently, the focus from the media, political leaders, gun rights activists and many others have not been focused on long-term needs or solutions but rather on short-term story lines, misleading voters and pushing policies as well as allowing misunderstandings which have led to surges in firearm sales.

The story of the century would be a day without a death from gun violence or even more so, violent crime.
Sound impossible? We are driven to think that way.

Read Full Article on EzKool.com

Time for a discussion: Guns, mental health, violence

24 Hours Ago… So much can change in a 24 hour period.

Throughout the world, lives are lost each day due to diseases, wars, drugs, mental and eating disorders, famine, violent crimes and so much more. What makes today different is not only is this happening just after the other recent tragedies in a mall, a theater, hair salon, etc but these were children, teachers a principal and those there to help our children.

They lived in one of the top 10 places to live in America. School should be a safe zone. No hate, violence, bullying or fear of dying due to any senseless act of crime. Mental disorders or not. That is not a reason or excuse for violence.

People live with mental disorders everyday without causing harm. People have guns responsibly. The fact is, not everyone is held accountable. Not everyone is responsible with a gun or keeps it away from the wrong hands.

Not everyone has proper medical diagnosis, care and/or treatment for their mental illness. The discussions and resolutions can’t be avoided. Prayers shouldn’t have to continuously go out for lives lost and communities affected by tragedy.

Prayers and attention need to focus on one thing, SAVING LIVES.

Put the politics aside.

People deserve to live and people deserve proper medical attention.

Side note:

I wanted to post this now but I was working on an article following the recent shooting in Clackamas…then this happened, the shooting at an elementary school. I will follow this up with a further article.

Please share your thoughts on this matter. Worldwide, people have been affected in different ways. 

It is time for a discussion.

President Obama – Leading with Values

President Barack Obama in Tampa October 25, 2012

Personally, I feel there is more to a President of the United States than just being the leader of the land-of-the-free, the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military in the world and a person who makes decisions each day that not only affects hundreds of millions of people in our nation but has affects around the world for many generations to come.

That is just a fraction of who our President is and therefore, I like to know a person is open and honest about their beliefs, their views on humanity, women, marriage, world aide, our troops and veterans, education, healthcare, the economy and what has led them to be the person they have become.

I personally was raised with a Republican background, registered as Republican and voted as a Republican for my first few elections.

I have always listened to all sides and tried to put myself in the shoes of others before casting my ballots in any elections. I understand I am not just voting for myself but also for my Country. I have never considered myself to be judgmental or close-minded.

As I have grown older, raised a family and faced more of life’s challenges such as raising a child fighting a terminal illness, learning disabilities, fighting with insurance companies, having pre-existing conditions of my own and dealing with hers, I do see many things differently than others may see.

I have seen many denied life-saving treatments due to insurance issues in a country that’s said to have the best medical care available, but to whom?

I know I am not the only person that has changed. Our country has changed. Many people have faced changes. There are large groups of people that were in top-income brackets who suddenly found themselves relying on government assistance, not because they didn’t believe in working hard to support their family but because of a financial market that simply thought it didn’t have to answer to anybody, took risks with money it didn’t have and lost real peoples’ money, their life savings, retirements and suddenly, people who thought they had everything planned out, had nothing to show for it.

If there was a lesson in the last 5 or 6 years, it is the fact the bottom can fall out from almost anyone if everyone isn’t playing by the same set of rules!

During elections, Parties try to focus on things to get votes. Obviously, that makes sense. The voter however is the one making the final decision and therefore, as a voter, each one should know what their candidate stands for, who they stand with and what their intentions as President would be.

One of the biggest battles of this election is a very important issue, choice.

The Republicans want people to believe this is about abortion. That is not the case. A big part of this choice concerns women’s healthcare. This involves a great deal of issues. It also involves the fact Romney wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood. See the article, “Romney’s Women “Issues”” to learn more.

The fact is millions more of Americans have healthcare due to progress made during President Obama’s term. That includes women, children, men, multiple income brackets, people with pre-existing conditions, students, etc.

Mitt Romney wants to go in and repeal “Obamacare” (on his first day in office). That would undo everything in the previous paragraph. He says he would leave parts in. Mind you, Romney says things to win votes and then changes them depending on who he is speaking to BUT if you believe this part, then he said he would leave the part about pre-existing conditions. His terms are this. The person would have to have been insured and stayed insured. That would not cover someone who has a condition and possibly changes jobs, therefore changing insurance companies. This would not be including them. The new insurance company could still deny them.

In the case of women’s healthcare choices, there is no line in the sand here. It is not a decision to me of which side maybe has a better idea. This is plain and simple. When it comes to my body, my family planning, pregnancy, pap smears, cancer screenings, birth control, or any healthcare concerning any women, young adult or child, the government doesn’t need to be a part of any of those decisions. I know a country that has a part in the reproductive rights of women, CHINA. I don’t live there. I live in a free country and my vote will reflect my decision on keeping it that way.

Women For Obama

I have never thought to call my Congress Person, my Governor or my President to ask their opinion on whether it was a good time for me to have a child or let them know my concerns about my neighbor having too many kids or being unable to conceive. You know why? It’s none of their business!

You know what is their business? Helping to fund preventative medical care for those that can’t afford it, vaccines to prevent deadly outbreaks, studies to lead to cures and helping keep the land with the best healthcare moving forward. You know what has been one of the best healthcare achievements in decades? Obamacare.

Again, with all of the accomplishments that have happened regarding healthcare, the GOP wants the focus to be on abortion. Okay. So, how do they feel about abortion?

Most recently, one of the newest GOP announcements that have come up (this isn’t the first time) is about whether a woman would be able (yes, that means “get permission”) to have an abortion if she were raped and became pregnant.

ROMNEY ENDORSES RICHARD MOURDOCK (Rep. Candidate for US Senate) Mourdock: “I too certainly stand for life. I know there are some who disagree and I respect their point of view but I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that the case the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize life is a gift from God and I think even when life begins in the horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”

Mourdock isn’t alone here. The Republican Party’s Platform feels the same. They are just keeping it hush hush through the election. They have tried to get Richard Mourdock to withdraw his statement much like they tried to get Todd Akin to withdraw his. However, withdrawing your statement won’t mean you change your views or your vote will change when laws are written up in the House or Senate, does it.

Paul Ryan has written up and pushed his stand on the Right of Personhood which stands on the same ground as Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin.

The GOP, Republicans and many Christian groups have tried to turn this election into a vote for or against abortion. It is not about abortion. It is about choice. It is turning into more than just choices about healthcare. It is voting rights, healthcare choices and leading our country either forward or taking it back to times we have already fought through to gain the rights and equalities we have today.

I am a Christian women, 43 years old, white, a registered Republican and although I would have considered myself conservative back when I was in my 30’s, I would have never made my decisions differently or based on different thoughts than I do today.

REPUBLICAN WOMEN FOR OBAMA

I feel the Republican Party has gotten to a point where they believe their core beliefs and values are the only way people should live. Therefore, they want the laws and everyone in this Country to live that way or they should just do without and be penalized.

I don’t believe in a system where my values or beliefs should take away from another person’s freedoms. What does that say for freedom of religion, freedom of speech or having one of the most diverse nations in the world? To make that work in the United States would be living under a dictatorship.

The GOP has distorted the facts trying to get as many of their Party into office. Their own Party didn’t stand behind Romney.

Their Party has made it a point to say they back Israel, always. Yet, when asked in the debate what Romney would do (in a scenario) of receiving an emergency call with Israel under an imminent attack, Romney became upset and refused to answer the question. Has he never thought of this? This is a country that is always under the threat of an attack.

Yet, the GOP Party questions Obama’s stand with Israel?

OBAMA’S CONSISTENT STAND WITH ISRAEL

The fact is this.

What the GOP wants is a majority in the House and the Senate. That would give them the ability to write and pass legislation. With a President of their party, they would not have to worry about a Veto.

This would also open up their Party to nominate at least 2 Supreme Court Justices.

Imagine how many laws could be passed and changes could be made with all of this control in the hands of the GOP.

It won’t matter that Romney doesn’t answer question or what he does or doesn’t say. They are relying on those that just don’t want to vote for Obama or those higher income people not wanting to pay more taxes. Right now, they also are relying on those who are against abortion.

I ask you though, if a 12 year girl was raped and became pregnant, should she have to carry that child while she is still coping with the tragedy of being raped?

A child suffering through incest at home or a family members house gets pregnant, should she? What if they don’t know who the father is? She will have to face this person while carrying the baby even though she is still a baby herself who has just been traumatized, been assaulted and now is expected to go through more trauma and emotional abuse. Is that is okay?

I think the suicide rate of young adults, both young boys and girls, in our country is high enough due to bullying. If you don’t think rape is worse than bullying and isn’t something traumatic for a person to live through, can cause life-long trauma, PTSD and then making the victim have to be reminded each day while they carry the baby of their rapist inside, then maybe the GOP Party is for you. I don’t think most people feel that way though.

I want a President with values who believes in treating others as he would want to be treated, how he wants his wife and children to be treated. I want a President who can look through the eyes of others and see how they feel, talk to them and make decisions based on real people, not Party or political popularity.

Obama: Re: His faith, “In time I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community.”

“These are not Democratic values. These are not Republican Values. They’re American Values.”

Belief: “For unto whom much is given is given, much shall be required.”

(View the above video to see more about the man behind the Presidency)

For a person to say they are a Christian, it is not just a title but more than that. I don’t see real Christian values in much of the GOP Party, its candidates or those pushing for them… I see a lot of people who just want to vote against Obama.

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?

Not just a story

Our world is under a constant change. That is a given. Those who try to stop change or stand in the way of progress are slowly being rooted out.
That is certainly being seen across the Middle East as they continue to fight for their freedom of speech, equalities and the ability to finally be out from under the unspeakable acts of cowardly dictators that have ruled over them for decades.

As each day passes, bravery becomes more evident because to share the turmoil going on in places such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it literally means risking arrest or even one’s life. Making a phone call, sending a picture, a tweet, updating a blog or even carrying on a conversation on the street or anywhere in public can cost a person their life on the spot or have them detained, tortured, or kidnapped leaving their family to wonder whatever became of them. This is not something that is exaggerated or made up. This is life for the people of these countries and has been for decades.

Most reporters sent in are there under government watch and only go places with government permission, in government convoys and to places the governments wants them to see. Example of this is in Tripoli’s famous Rixos Hotel where a large group of reporters have stayed and covered Libya’s conflict for an ongoing amount of time. This is where Iman Al Obaidi ran in to share her story of what happened while she was held by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Her story became internationally known once it was shared by worldwide news organizations and across social media websites. This became possible only because she risked her life to go into that hotel in the first place.

Other reporters have been thrown out of Libya and other countries for sharing too much of the truth as well as having been detained, beaten, raped or are still missing or or have been killed.

To name just a few, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Mohammed Al-Nabbous, Anton Hammerl were killed just recently. These are just a few and are just naming ones killed in Libya.

Why do “outsiders” risk their lives to share these “stories”?

I’ll answer this question very directly so as to be very clear.

These aren’t just stories, this is life. Just because I am an American writing about people that are living all the way around the world, doesn’t make this any less relevant than if I were writing about something locally, not to me.

You see, these people in many ways are just like me. They have hopes, dreams, families, loved ones, and friends.

Rebel fighters at the Wazin Border Crossing(Tunisia and Nafusa Mountains) May11th
Photo Courtesy of: @ShababLibya

A mother losing her child or a child losing their parents somewhere else in the world is just as upsetting as if that happened here, or to me. A friend watching their friend die is no less painful because it is further away or because it is in a time of war. Many of those fighting in these current revolutions are students, lawyers, doctors or young kids. Most are not soldiers and had never held a weapon before in their life. They are protecting their homes, businesses, families and their lives. They didn’t want to fight. They don’t want to fight. They want to be free which is the opposite of fighting.

As an American, I want our government to be able to help, of course.

I also know that many times, U.S. involvement comes with a cost and although at first glance and in a time of crisis, it seems great and the right thing to do when making arrangements but the long term effects, due to diplomatic arrangements made to reach that original agreement, often far outweigh the long term benefit. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

Let me explain. Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need for help is there and the desire to help is there but the actual response and outcome is often so jumbled up in politics, the RSVP would have been better to have been lost in the mail.

Some situations are so clear, up front, one would think there wouldn’t be any issues. One would think.

In Libya, Gaddafi was making it abundantly clear that he had no problem with taking as many lives each day as he could without any given reason. He also made it clear he wasn’t listening to reason. Once the UN came to an agreement and NATO started its response against Gaddafi’s crimes against his own people, it wasn’t as quick of a process as it would have once been thought.

At this point, it seems communication on the ground (what little there is) doesn’t get heard by the right people, quickly enough. I personally think if it were, Gaddafi would have been cut off much quicker.

Syria has tried to hide what is going on in their country but they haven’t been able to do this, not completely. The government says one thing and does another. It seems they want to act like Iran, dress like Iran but not be treated like Iran. When do threats from the U.S. end? Syria’s government has clearly chosen its path.

In Yemen today, President Saleh refused to sign the exit deal to hopefully bring an end to the political crises. Saleh has ruled for 32 years.
For months now, Yemen has been filled with protests for him to step down. Hundreds have been killed and he has refused to sign a deal at least twice before.

Saleh is demanding the opposition be present at the signing. The opposition refuses saying it will send the wrong message to the revolution leaders in Sanaa, making Saleh look victorious.

The opposition signed their part of the agreement on Saturday, May 21st with the understanding Saleh would sign his on Sunday.
About Saudi Arabia…this is a country with a great deal of oppression toward women.

I am a woman. I drive. Recently Manal Al Sharif was arrested for doing exactly the same thing in the eastern town of Khobar, Saudi Arabia which defies a long standing ban on women’s driving. Yeh, that’s right.

Manal Al Sharif 32 year old Saudi Arabian woman detained for driving in Saudi Arabia

It’s said that about two-thirds of a woman’s salary goes toward their transportation. They can’t walk on the street or drive so they must pay a taxi or private driver. There’s no public transportation.

On June 17th, there’s a campaign #Women2Drive which is growing in numbers on their Facebook page. The idea is for those women, with foreign licenses, to go out in the Kingdom of Saudi and drive that day. Some are even offering to teach others how to drive. Manal Al Sharif remains detained at this moment but in an interview to Gulf news she said, “Every lady has something to do in the city, she’ll just drive, do her business and come back. So it’s as simple as that. People can’t call it a demonstration, we’re not going against the law, we’re not going against anyone, we’re not even demonstrating.”

I was going to divide this article into two parts but I think it’s important to keep it as one.

You see, as a nation, we have an enormous amount of freedoms. I am writing this article which I will shortly post because I have the freedom to do so. I have the ability to share the information which I freely read about on the Internet or via links that were sent to me. Information is golden.

Education is priceless. The ability to have those available to us should never be taken for granted.

In many parts of our world, these freedoms or abilities do not exist. Our freedoms were fought for by very brave people before us and to take anything at all for granted, to me, just seems wrong. It also seems wrong to take lightly why others would want these same freedoms as well as the loss of lives they are experiencing while fighting for their freedom.

Many have chosen to come here, to the U.S., seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Around the world, America has been known as the “Land of the Free”, but is it? Do we truly know where these people are coming from, why they are seeking freedom and can they still find it here? In coming here, they have often made many sacrifices leaving behind the only homes they have ever known and family members to still live under dictators and the very life they are running from.

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been following much of what has been going on around the world, devastating natural disasters, revolutions and our own nation and its many ups and downs.

I hadn’t planned to write quite yet until I read a comment about the woman in Saudi, Manal, who had been arrested for, driving. The comment was basically along the lines of the fact the reader would never live in a place that wouldn’t allow a woman to drive!

My question: What if you were born there?

Step one-Topple the dictator!

Protests around the world want to see the end of Gaddafi's rule
Photo by: jetalone

Although the information from Libya has been a struggle to get and hard to confirm due to the communications lock-down set in place by the country’s dictator of 42+ years, Muammar Gaddafi himself, a few facts are very clear.

The Libyan people are standing together and want to see the end of the Gaddafi regime, immediately.

Gaddafi has also made it clear he does not plan to step away from the power he has held onto for over four decades while oppressing the people of Libya, torturing them, stealing from them and telling them everyone else is the problem and only through him can there be an ongoing future for Libya.

The problem for him is, times have changed and the nation and its people want to take hold of this change. They certainly have a strong grasp with no plans to let go or back down.

Many have called these recent revolutions going on in Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Yemen the “Facebook Revolutions” or the “Internet Revolutions”, due to the fact much of the organization and taking the idea from something a few could do to something a country could do together, happened online through social media websites.

However, these revolutions are the people showing they have had too many years of, too much and not enough. It shows that each of these protesters from each of these countries are coming together to bring an end to the decades of dictatorships and the abuses being done to the citizens of their countries, the economies of these countries and they are wanting to establish a better future for themselves and generations to come.

These protesters want to be able to speak up and be heard without the fear of being arrested, tortured or forever silenced for doing what we, here in America, are able to do every day thanks to those who have fought for our freedoms ahead of us.

There have been numerous voices on Facebook, blogs, and Twitter speaking out and sharing, not only what they want outsiders to understand, but also showing support for one another in neighboring Middle East countries as one country’s rise against their dictator shows others they can accomplish the same. They can stand up for freedom and focus on a future with more opportunities and long term goals with the hope they can see their dreams through and stop living in daily fear.

As these revolutions have risen up and the people have stood together
in these countries against the regimes, the message is not only being seen across the region but around the world.

The messages being sent out over blogs, Facebook and Twitter are being read around the world and these voices are finally being heard. Other dictatorships and those living under them have more hope today due to these current transitions, not only due to the violence but due to the realization the people were able to come together and no longer live under the fear that has ruled them for so long.

In the recent toppling of these dictators, there are a few noticeable facts that really drove people to the edge over the many years of repetitive abuse and oppression. Those words don’t seem to cover what truly needs to be said.

There was no respect for the people, understanding of the citizens’ day to day struggles or a genuine compassion for a better future for the country or its people.

These dictators are completely detached from everything but the power their position brings to them and they will do anything to continue holding on to that power.

Although it is a very difficult process at times to clarify certain facts or detailed information coming in, it is very clear who the international community should stand behind, the people.

It may not be a detailed path where the Middle East may be headed but when we look back over history and see how the regimes and their dictators have handled the past, it seems the future has a much better outlook without them, their ideals, deceitfulness and their disdain for anyone aside from themselves or those that can benefit them at the time.

In 2010 and 2011, that power and the longevity of the power of these dictators have been greatly diminished with social media as the people of these countries quickly found a way to unite, form their ideals, stand together and once and for all, topple these dictators!

Times are changing.

Change for Egypt

Protest in Tahrir Square
Photo by: AlJazeer


Soon after large demonstrations started in Egypt on January 25th, support poured in across Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter for Egyptians seeking freedoms, a better future and asking Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to immediately step down.

Protestors had gathered in Tahrir Square and said they would not leave till Mubarak he had given up his 30 year position as President of Egypt. As time passed, the crowd grew. The numbers following via Facebook and Twitter also grew. (#Egypt #Jan25)

Many of the demonstrators were tweeting and texting directly from their locations and also giving information of what would be going on the following hours and days. In today’s fast-paced Internet world, picture uploading, video uploading, texting, blogging and sharing information is instant and with the world’s changing times, this allows millions of people to know instantly what is going on across the world and to alert others.

Egypt’s government has in its constitution a law, the “Emergency Law” which, among other things, gives the government the right, at its discretion to shut down the Internet and on January 28th, Internet Service Providers were told to cut services.

This “Emergency Law” has been in place nearly all of Mubarak’s time in office. This law is one of many grievances the people have with the Egyptian government and it was recently extended to remain another two years. When the law is enacted, it gives the government the right to arrest people without cause, hold prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly and more. At the time Internet was cut, most mobile phone services also were disabled especially text messaging. This greatly handicapped the ability not only for Egyptians to communicate internationally but also with one another in the country.

Until February 1st, the protestors mostly were peaceful. Tahrir Square remained full of protestors waiting for President Mubarak to step down. News had come that he had sworn in a Vice President which was a first in the country in over 30 years.

However, on the 1st, Mubarak made a speech on State T.V. which played on a large screen for all to see in the square. He stated he would not seek another term as president in the upcoming elections. The people quietly watched his entire speech and closer to the end he stated he would not be willing to step down before the end of his term in September, later this year.

On the ground in Tahrir Square and close by violence grew as the crowd became angry. There became a rise in violence and coverage of this was being shown internationally soon after the world had viewed not only this speech by President Mubarak but also a speech by President Obama on his thoughts concerning the situation in Egypt.

The rise in violence around Tahrir Square grew as pro-Mubarak groups grew larger in the square and clashes between them and the anti-government group became more violent causing a growing number of injuries and fatalities.

The following day as journalists were covering the clashes, they themselves became the targets of violence. They were being harassed, beaten up, having their equipment confiscated, being arrested, vehicles or teams attacked and as this grew increasingly worse, some were forced to leave for their safety and others went into hiding to continue reporting but to protect themselves and their crews.

This same day, Internet service began to slowly return across the country and as this happened, updates from Egyptians started to come in on Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other sources. These updates showed personal accounts of what had been happening around Egypt and confirming an even greater desire for freedom but also confirmed the fact journalists were being targeted on the ground, in hotels and around the country. Egypt’s government, it appeared, did not want the continued coverage of what was going on in the streets of Egypt during this crisis.

The question was, why?

Was the fear this coverage was making Egypt look bad internationally or was the fear the international coverage and the feedback it was getting influencing Egypt’s youth, inciting more displays of protests? Whatever the reasoning, the amount of international journalists in the country was greatly diminishing and those remaining were not being able to cover the revolution on the streets, the people, Tahrir Square up close as they had been doing, they now needed to look out for their safety and cover the crisis from afar.

The fact is though, covering the situation in Egypt is extremely important. It is extremely important to see the crisis and transformation as it unfolds. It’s more truthful and honest to see it from the eyes of the people and the government’s reaction and the angles there in Egypt and to have those views involved.

Egypt’s crisis and this transformation as some view it or revolution as it is turning out to be is not just a small event or something that will soon pass. It is much larger and significant.

Egypt has a population of more than 80 million people, the largest population in the 22 Arabic speaking countries.

Although the overthrow of Tunisia’s president in December ignited many frustrations and long held grievances of the citizens in other countries across the region, eyes are now on Egypt and at the moment, the leaders of Jordan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere are looking at their own government and making tremendous changes and reforms to try to prevent many of the same actions. Protests are currently taking place.

As for the U.S. and its involvement in this crisis, of course there is a great deal of concern and the crisis in Egypt has great significance to the U.S. We have many Egyptian-Americans living in the United States and many have called this their home for generations but still, Egypt is their home as well. Compassion must always be shown not only to our fellow Americans but, all others.

What would you go to a demonstration for? What freedom would you not be willing to give up?

Much of what the Egyptians are protesting for, Americans not only have but take for granted. Fair elections, presidential term limit restrictions, freedom of speech and assembly and the right these freedoms can’t just be taken away at the whim of the government (like what is currently happening in Egypt and has been over the past 3 decades due to “Emergency Law”).

What is the United State’s position on making Mubarak step down being President?

This is a political revolution of the Egyptian people. They desire freedom and change in the way their country and government functions. Therefore it is up to Egypt and its people to unfold their new political system, laws and government, not outside countries. True change will come from within.

Since Mubarak has been an ally of the United States, there has been communication between Mubarak and President Obama as well as the Administration and other key officials in Egypt. It is important for the U.S. to point out certain views pertaining to matters that does affect the U.S. as well as what effects U.S. citizens in Egypt, humanitarian efforts and the safety of international journalists. The U.S. has remained a close ally with Egypt for many years and as long as diplomatically possible, this is important to continue without forgetting about the rights of the Egyptian citizens.

However, for the U.S. Administration or U.S. Citizens to act as though we can tell another country’s leader to step down does nothing to aide that country or the real long term efforts toward transformation they are working on. It also hurts our diplomacy efforts with other countries and in the long run would hurt our relations with the government that ends up being formed in Egypt. The U.S. cannot see itself as the strong hold over the world.

The best seat for the U.S. to strategically plan for what needs to be done after Egypt’s transition and the actions that follow in Yemen, Jordan, Syria and other neighboring governments may be in the observation area allowing the people of Egypt and its current government to build its own future out of its current turmoil.

Allow them to have change.

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