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war
Posts

  • Don’t even think of leaving your kid alone… EVER

    I don’t know about you guys, but I had a lot of independence as a kid. Maybe my parents were quasi neglectful, or maybe I was just exceptionally mature. After all, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and believed marshmallow “Fluff” was a legitimate food source. So there you go.

    I started walking to school on my own in the first grade. The journey was about a mile and I embarked on this solitary excursion with my pride packed in my little backpack (which I ONLY ever wore on my right shoulder because I was NOT a NERD who wore their bag on BOTH shoulders….that would be CRAZY!!!!!) After school let out, I walked back to our empty house, put on my roller-skates, and glided around aimlessly until it got dark.

    When I was eight years old, I began babysitting for our neighbor’s twins. They were six months old and I got paid $5 an hour. I guess I was an innocent victim of a child labor ring – obviously I should have gotten $10 for two kids! I would play with these baby girls, change their diapers, sometimes remember to feed them, and play some more. I may not have been the most diligent baby sitter of all time, but I kept them alive and we had fun.

    In the summertime, I easily biked 15 miles a day because my mom thought driving her kid around was a “republican thing to do.” The majority of my childhood I was either alone or frolicking with friends making wise decisions like eating half a pound of cookie dough for dinner. Maybe this lead to a bout of serious diarrhea, but I also gained a sense of responsibility over my own person. I learned to rely on my instincts of self-preservation and subsequently understood how to take care of both myself and other people. The more my parents trusted me the more I trusted myself.

    It turns out that my mother, my neighbors, and half the parents I knew as a child, would have been arrested if they were parents today. According to a recent pole, 68% of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids age nine and younger from playing in parks unsupervised and 43% feel the same way about 12-year-olds. Despite the fact that people in this country are enjoying the lowest crime rates in decades. When asked: “Do kids today face more threats to their physical safety?” 62% answered “yes.”

    Americans are living with unprecedented fear. Enter the presence of modern day news. The pressure that 24-hour “news” channels have to fill each hour with content, every story is magnified to epic proportions. Media relies on people tuning in, so the more intense the tragedies, the higher the viewership. We have a morbid fascination with catastrophe, so media companies have a vested interest in amplifying every horrific detail to make more money, unconcerned that this ultimately exacerbates our culture of fear and paranoia.

    Call me crazy but parents today are in deep denial thinking the dangers facing their children are lurking in the park rather than I don’t know…THE FACT THAT CORPORATIONS AND THE BANKING INDUSTRY ARE RAPING THE PLANET OF ALL ITS RESOURCES SO THERE WILL BE NOTHING LEFT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS? Or how about our foreign policy: the U.S. is currently fighting SEVENTY-FOUR different wars right now? It is comparable to someone refusing to swim in the ocean for fear of sharks but then driving down the street because they don’t feel like walking—turning a blind eye to the reality that the likelihood of getting eaten by a sharped tooth bony fish is INFINITELY smaller than dying in a car crash.

    The benefits of allowing children to be accountable for themselves by playing with other kids without constant supervision and micromanaging of adults seems much more meaningful than our culture’s current obsessive panic over safety. Imagine if the movie “Stand by Me” took place today? The boys would be like “wanna see a dead body” and then some medley mom in the background would be like “no, you boys do not – now get back inside.” Roll credits.

    Of course we need to protect our children, but that also means helping them learn how to protect themselves. A generation of kids who has never once felt the autonomy of making their own decisions will potentially grow up to be a generation of very insecure adults. Although a 12 year old is still young, it is also kind of old. I mean… Mary was 12 when she had Jesus. If she can raise the Son of God, then I am pretty sure our kids can swing on a damn swing without their mommy having to observe their pumping skills.

    Maybe I am wrong. Maybe these kids will be happy and well adjusted. Maybe part of the problem is that too many of us were raised by inattentive parents. Who knows. I do know that the fun of playing outside until dusk with no one telling what to do so maybe you try a cigarette that makes you puke seconds after the rush of your life–those memories will last a lifetime.

    (I would be scared of Munch if I came across her alone at the park)

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    August 26, 2014 • Behavior, Current Events, Disciplining, Mommyhood, Parenting, Playing • Views: 1269

  • James Foley, ISIS, The Perpetual War for Resources

    James Foley was a courageous man who knowingly risked his life for the pursuit of the truth. He wanted to expose the injustices committed against the Syrian people, and his morality took precedent over his safety. The Islamic extremist group ISIS recently beheaded him, and is now threatening to kill more.

    Murdering a journalist is a horrific attempt to have an impact on American foreign policy. ISIS is demanding Obama leave Iraq or else another kidnapped journalist will be executed. Yet they have to know these brutal acts are ultimately ineffective when it comes to having genuine influence on the White House’s decisions. Even though the American people will be devastated to watch more innocent citizens die, the political system will not adapt because of the sacrifice of the few.

    The American government has an agenda with Iraq, and it is far more complex than conceding to ISIS. ISIS is targeting the US because the American vision for Iraq is in direct conflict with what ISIS is trying to organize. ISIS wants a complete failure of Iraq in order to create a Sunni Islamic state – the rationale being that if there is going to be a Jewish State, then there must be an Islamic one as well. ISIS has exploited the chaos in Syria to hold territory, and funds itself through oil and extortion. The land ISIS is trying to dominate is obviously rich with oil, as Iraq is home to 4% of the earth’s oil supply – which is the 5th largest in the world.

    A military presence in the Middle East gives the U.S. leverage to shape political outcomes, and benefit economically from that molding. America has already empowered the Shia majority – whose Prime Minster refuses to accommodate Sunnis. That is like if Iraq came to the US during our Civil War and gave tanks and advanced military gear to the South/North. Our intervention to embolden one group has drastically angered the other.

    Despite how much trauma it would cause if subsequent journalists suffer the same fate as James Foley, the stakes are too high for the US government. This is hard to conceptualize because the wars we fight are not on our land. The relationships we have to them are more abstract than if we were being constantly attacked on our home turf. We can feel compassion for the families who lose their loved ones overseas, or a deep anger for the injustices of good people dying – but our daily lives are impacted differently by war than in the lands where the actual fighting is occurring. Bombing and airstrikes are not going to stop a momentum so strong it has taken over the Middle East.

    There is an extreme desperateness on the part of this radical faction, because although ISIS craves supremacy, it is still dwarfed by the Iraqi army and its allies. This has created a culture where barbaric acts amplify their voice on the global stage. To get attention politically, ISIS engages in drastic attempts to be heard. The pursuit for power blended with religious fundamentalism breeds a mentality that rejects humanity. Yet this story is not new, and will continue to be a theme because religion and the fight over resources are the prevailing components of war. They represent the most fundamental parts of the human experience – the will to survive, the desire for power, and the fear of death.

    The violence won’t stop with ISIS just as it didn’t stop with Al-Qaeda (who recently splintered from ISIS). Many predicted this type of uprising, as it is the logical consequence of US interference. The only way these perpetual wars will end is if the heads of state recognize the importance of sharing and distributing the earth’s precious resources in a more reasonable way that prioritizes humanity over power.

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    August 21, 2014 • Current Events, Political Banter • Views: 2133

  • Being White Won’t Save You From The Police State

    With the recent events in Ferguson a lot of people are talking about race, racial profiling, and the blatant targeting of police towards the black youth of America. There is a flurry of white people who are now faced with a very publicized example of the depths of injustice, and forced to think to themselves “Wow, that could be my kid, yet I am white so I don’t have that same problem.” This flood of empathy and compassion is meaningful, yet as a white person myself; I am surprised by how many white people are surprised by their white privilege.

    I would like to think that the LA riots inspired by the release of the Rodney King tapes would have shed a spotlight on police brutality so bright there would have been major bureaucratic overhauling. That physical proof demonstrated the flagrant prejudice, and the need for intervention. Yet since that time, there have been COUNTLESS instances of police shooting black men because they had a wallet, candy bar, or phone in their hand. Some of these stories, like Amadou Diallo or Trayvon Martin get mainstream press, but it is only when people take to the streets in rebellion that white America is like “Whoa, I guess police killing black people really is a problem.”

    Yet being white is not going to save you from the police state America is becoming. The black population may have been the first to suffer from this transitioning, but get ready White America – because you are going to be just as impacted. There is a naivety in assuming that whiteness will save you from an ever-growing corruption and militarization of the police force.

    White children are being arrested for lemonade stands, white moms are being arrested for letting their children play in the park or for saying “fuck” in front of them, white girls are being arrested for reading subversive books, white families are being arrested for growing vegetables in their yard / having chickens / putting solar panels on their roof. Do you remember The Occupy Wall Street movement? Can you recall the police in military grade riot gear spraying pepper spray and assaulting peaceful white protesters? Although racism is an OBVIOUS problem when it comes to police treatment, so is dissent.

    There are over 50,000 SWAT team raids in America Annually – that is more than 100 every day! Modern officers are groomed to be more like soldiers than neighborly protectors. The pentagon has given over $500 million worth of equipment to the police, and Homeland Security has granted over $35 billion in grants. 13,000 agencies are participating in a military recycling program. Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t now about you, but I am not sure a man who was just fighting a war is best suited for the position of a police man who I hope might save my cat from being stuck up a tree. Can we just take a moment to think of how cops in England only have batons as weapons, and our cops have ½ million dollar tanks?!

    It is not individual policemen who are the problem, but the culture that is being cultivated. There is a prevailing message that the American people are the enemy, not citizens who need to be safeguarded. The drone invasion of American air space, internal check points, stop and searches, uncalled for strip searches, the prison industrial complex (which includes half of the prison population incarcerated for non violent crimes), police officers not receiving the same jail time as citizens for the same offenses, NSA surveillance / government spying – are a all clear indicators of the mentality behind the police state.

    The police in question can easily justify this behavior by insisting they are just “doing their job.” Which in many ways they are. Yet what we as the citizens must begin to question is what exactly is the “job” of the police, and why are we the targets? There is an element of complacency and blind obedience involved because ultimately we are allowing ourselves to be treated like criminals.

    That is why we have to have respect for the people of Ferguson who are standing up for their rights, albeit in a complicated manner, but the intention is profound and the message is clear. No! We have had enough of this treatment. They are braver than me, because currently I am not fighting back in exchange for the perceived freedoms that make it easier for me to live my life. Even though intellectually I am aware that the American public is becoming increasingly more oppressed, practically the effect still seems esoteric. Sure the NSA reads all my emails, but I allow it figuring they are bored or disinterested in my puny life. Yet that illusion of “oh well, what can I do?” is by far the most dangerous part of this police state. Many of us are too comfortable to fight back, turning away from the reality that our freedoms are increasingly being taken away. It is like we are lobsters who have been put in a pot of cold water, and are not noticing that someone has turned up the heat and soon we will boil.

    It is times like this where we have to remind ourselves of this poem about the atrocity of the Holocaust, because regardless of race, you are drastically impacted by the police state America has become.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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    August 19, 2014 • Current Events, Political Banter • Views: 3197

  • We Pass More Than Genes To Our Children

    I have always felt that the lives we live somehow can become imprinted onto the next generation. Our memories are not just abstract apparitions, but there is an actual tangible substance to experiences, and that information gets transferred into our cells. The body is not just a functional apparatus unaware of the emotions the heart/brain/soul feel, but is intimately connected to all that we go through.

    Maybe that sounds like some hippy new age esoteric frou frou la la land… but guess what!? Science kind of agrees with me.

    “New research from Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA. During the tests they learned that that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.”

    I have been thinking a lot about war lately because of all the turmoil in Gaza. There is so much suffering people are forced to endure. How can that not be transferred onto their children? When you think about slavery, the holocaust, genocide, war torn countries… what humans have been exposed to is so extreme, so extraordinarily brutal, how could those remembrances not be part of generations to come?

    A child doesn’t have to live the pain of their parents to still be impacted. A young black child in America can still feel the rage of slavery that their great great grandmother lived through. A Jewish child in Germany may still sense the terror of the concentration camp their grandfather barely survived from. So many kids who perhaps live charmed lives compared to what their families underwent are still viscerally affected by the crimes of history.

    Considering how there is this tangible prospect that trauma permeates through the people who live through it, how does a society that has been fractured truly heal from the past? Injustice is so powerful it has a life of its own. At what point will we cleanse the horror of how we treat each other and birth a generation that is free from the burden of agony?

    Sigh

    On that note… have an awsum weekend!

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    July 25, 2014 • Current Events, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 1289

  • I have a lot of fear about the power of fear

    This morning I had breakfast with my grandmother and she was telling me about a memory she had as a young girl with scarlet fever.  Now I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer a scarlet letter to scarlet fever.  Not only was she on the brink of death, but also during her affliction she was quarantined in the hospital with all the other infected children.  Something about the thought of being isolated to deal with my own mortality as a 7-year old seems kind of extreme.  Especially because in my imagination she was covered in leaches because I assume that is how they took care of things back then.

    My Grandmother: So you see Toni, there I was unable to see my mother or anyone else I loved because we were confined.  My roommate was a little girl from New Hampshire who I guess came from a very religious family.  Before we went to bed the first night she asked me if I was Protestant of Catholic.  Now, I had no idea what she was talking about.  I had never heard either of those words so I told her that I didn’t know.  And do you know what she said to me?

    Toni: I don’t

    My Grandmother: She said that I was probably Protestant, and I was going to burn in hell.

    Toni: Oh dear.

    My Grandmother: Now I was terrified.  I didn’t want to burn in hell, and was afraid I might die and do just that! So my mother would visit the hospital, but I could only look out the window and wave to her.  To cheer me up she would bring various pets from home – like our duck, or guinea pig.  She would hold them up and I would lean my head against the glass with tears in my eyes.  My mother of course thought I was crying because I was homesick.  But really I was lamenting because I was going to hell, while all my animals would still be frolicking in the fields without me.  When I was finally allowed to leave the hospital I ran into my mothers arms weeping.  She asked me what was wrong and I told her how I was going to hell and that I was terrified.  And do you know what she said?

    Toni: What?

    My Grandmother: She said ‘whatever made you think there was a hell you silly goose?’

    This conversation made me think a lot about the concept of fear, and what a motivating force it is. I had always assumed that the opposite of love is hate, but maybe it is actually fear.  Fear and love are move people more than anything else.

    I think both politics and religion directly address, and in someone ways manipulate, the fear we all have in our hearts. Religion helps calm the fear of the unknown and politics pray on the fear of vulnerability.  When I think of Syria and the pending threat of war, I believe politics, religion, and fear are all playing major roles in the escalation.  I keep asking myself how the threat of a World War is even possible considering we can all look at the history books and see the devastating impact of World Wars.  Not to mention the obvious consequences of technology of modern weaponry.

    In my word view, I often look at capitalism and corporate greed as the major driving force of war. And maybe that is true, but only for the very few elite who actually profit from it.  I think the majority of people that are fighting these wars, the citizens on the ground level, are not killing each other with the idea of financial gain, but because of ideological reasoning.  Politics exploit the fundamental belief systems of the people that are actually dying.  The real causes of war are hardly discussed in the public sphere.

    I think the paradigm of fear, although powerful, can be turned on its head if love could become just a profitable.  I say, “go ahead global elites, have all the money and power you want.  But why not manipulate the people with love instead of fear so we don’t all die?” Thanks.  Love Toni and Munch.

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    September 5, 2013 • Current Events, Musings, Political Banter, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 1153

  • March Against Monsanto

    On May 25th a mass protest is being organized against Monsanto.  I do not necessarily believe that protesting alone can change policy in this day and age, yet I do think that it is worth our time to do whatever we can to express our discontent with corporate plutocracy.  If anything it is at least an opportunity to better network with each other.

    We need to be as proactive as possible to an impact on how our food system works.  It is important to organize and educate each other, as well as deeply investigate the companies that are feeding us.  Right now, the best form of activism is being hyper aware of how you spend your money, and not supporting companies that are contaminating the land and their product.

    People are very impassioned when it comes to this issue, and there are many different ways to analyze information.  But no matter what your opinion on GMO’s and pesticides… whether you seem them as problematic or necessary… here are two ideas worth chewing on.

    Do you remember Russia… you know, the country we were at war with for WORLD POWER? Yeah, well they haven’t gone away – even if we did break up their empire.  Recently the president of Russia met with John Kerry and he is pretty pissed.

    “President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war… At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.”

    I don’t know about you, but a world war sounds terrifying.  Especially one that is based on corporate greed and a refusal to adapt their business model.  I am not saying Monsanto can’t make money.  Make all the money you want Monsanto.  Have it all.  But maybe not murder the bees while you are doing it?

    I think we all know how important bees are to our food system, and the rest of the world seems pretty concerned that they are all dying.  And if all the bees die what are our options? To get children to pollinate the flowers with their tiny fingers?

    The other thing worth thinking about is that Monsanto impacts the entire world’s food system.  That is too much power for any one company to have over the most precious resource on the planet.  You could have more money than god, but if you are hungry and thirsty you are going to be in a bad mood, and eventually die.  Food is vital.  Our food system needs to be governed by a collective effort, not ruled by a dictatorship.

    There are many things we can argue about when it comes to geopolitical issues, but can’t we all agree that we don’t want to die in a world war, and that eating is important?

    I am inspired by the fact that Monsanto has already been removed from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South Australia, Russia, France, and Switzerland.  It gives me hope that we can do it here too.

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    May 24, 2013 • 2 years old, Current Events, Eating, Environmental Impact, Health, Musings • Views: 1375

  • Tragedy Should Breed Empathy

    In the face of tragedy it is hard not be consumed with anger.  There is an intense need to feel relief from the pain and confusion of people being harmed.  Rage and blame can almost comfort suffering, or at least serve as a distraction from devastation.  Yet as much as everyone craves answers regarding the events in Boston, there is much to learn from this horrific occurrence beyond the details that have yet be revealed.

    My Facebook newsfeed has been divided between those sending prayers to Boston, those furious and wanting answers, and those who are showing a sort of indifference because this type of violence happens all the time all over the world.  Although I find all of these reactions to be legitimate, why do they have to be mutually exclusive?  Can’t there be a balance between acknowledging the pain and fear that exist not only here, but abroad as well?

    One post I found most revealing states “While the world is ‘shocked’ by Boston Bombing: at the same time 7 Palestinians were killed 55 deaths in Iraq by bombings 32 other radon killings in Iraq 12 deaths in Afghanistan…and we could go on… But ‘less’ important?”

    Yes that point is true.  But is death a competition? Is disaster?  America hasn’t fought a war on its land since the 1800’s.  The vast majority of the American public has no idea what war is like or how what it would be like to fear for your life daily because of military activity.  The American people are beyond sheltered when it comes to understanding the true impact of war. As a nation we are disconnected from the realities that millions of people suffer from because of the decisions of our government.

    We vote politicians into office that have an agenda of war because our physical distance keeps us ignorant of the consequences.  Of course not every war is because of American involvement, but there are enough for us to examine our foreign policy and recognize that change is within our power.  If events in Boston only elicit more divisive energy and hatred towards other nations we are missing the point.  In order for this culture of war to change, birthing empathy from these types of experiences is the first step.

    Of course those directly impacted by loss will be in a different state of mourning, but those of us observing this catastrophe have an opportunity to extend compassion not only to those in Boston, but those throughout the globe who live with violence as part of their every day existence.  Let moments like these inspire us to truly connect to our empathetic nature and remember that nothing, not money, not oil, not power, is worth innocent children dying for.

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    April 16, 2013 • 2 years old, Current Events, Parenting, Political Banter • Views: 1545