We Must Spread Love, Now More Than Ever

Conversation hearts cannot inspire dialogue—at least not the sort we need right now. “Text Me” and “U R Cute” will merely leave a chalky taste on your tongue. But, as Valentine’s Day continues to evolve, it’s obvious that one day dedicated to cardboard cupids and heart-shaped chocolates will not spread enough love to sustain our increasingly difficult fight against hate.

In today’s volatile political climate, it’s easy to drown underneath waves of anger. Leaders on one end of the spectrum regularly infuriate those on the opposing side, sparking outrage that results in an epic game of emotional Ping-Pong. Those wishing to instill fear go to extremes to cultivate animosity, while those working to alleviate worries aim to promote unity.

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Source: Getty Images

But on this, the greeting card holiday dedicated to love, we must look beyond romantic pursuits in order to show our affection for those who face undue persecution. Border walls and religious bans pollute the air where all the love’s supposed to be. We must treat this day as an opportunity to realign our own thought processes so we may continue to fight the good fight under the veil of justice, not disgust. If these destructive measures remain unchecked, our resistance also runs the risk of becoming disconnected from its primary purpose.

Going forward, we must pause frequently to reflect. We must collect our thoughts and reestablish our goals so we never lose sight of the love and togetherness on which this movement was built. We must commit to small actions and gestures every day so we never abandon the vital message behind our efforts.

Defend those who face unmerited hatred because their skin tone doesn’t match the winter snow. Black, Mexican, or Muslim—show these marginalized groups that their contributions to society cannot be overshadowed by the misdeeds of an extreme few. Pop that bubble you’ve been living in your entire life and engage those who don’t look or think like you. Despite popular belief, love isn’t blind. Instead, love grows from the willingness to open our hearts and minds to new people and possibilities.

But, above all else, we must not forget to love ourselves. Much of the anxiety plaguing our nation resides in the hearts of those who are unhappy with themselves. Insecure individuals project their internal doubts onto those who seem weak, punishing the innocent merely so they may reinforce their false confidence. They assert their supposed power by oppressing those who have very little power themselves.

We have the capacity to inspire revolutionary love—love that bonds people of all races, genders, and religions—but we’ve been complacent for far too long. Now’s the time to stand up for what we believe. Now’s the time to lend our voice to the voiceless. Now’s the time to spread love, not hate. Cupid doesn’t have enough arrows to take up arms against the foolish leaders of America. But if we, the people, march forth hand-in-hand, there’s nothing we can’t achieve together.

Source: Dreamy Addictions

Source: Dreamy Addictions

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Bells began to ring out from the speakers at my favorite bagel shop last Wednesday, and they have not stopped since. Holiday songs and decorations popped up overnight, albeit somewhat early even for our commercialized society, but it was easy to surmise the underlying motivation. Election Night in America effectively extinguished nearly everyone’s spark, and these establishments were determined to spread cheer in any way they could.

Many walked about aimlessly, draped in misery, cloaked in sadness. It was as if we’d all woken from the same nightmare and we couldn’t shake the feeling. Yet, despite the somber vibe throughout the day—here in the northeast, rain mixed with tears—there still seemed to be the occasional glimmer of hope. In each sweet smile and friendly greeting, melancholy mixed with kindness. Everyone realized that we’re all members of the walking wounded, that we are all in this together—that we are stronger together. We transformed our sorrow into strength by being nicer to one another. We spoke through our actions when we couldn’t find the words.

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But, elsewhere throughout the once “United” States, division and disgust crept to the fore, with Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric fueling racist outbursts across the country. From ethnic slurs to offensive graffiti, this Huffington Post article displays only the beginning of the homegrown harassment taking root. (The story of one young Muslim teacher whose student told her to “tie [her headscarf] around your neck and hang yourself with it off your neck instead of your head” remains one of the most disturbing thus far.) For each kind gesture, there have been dozens more that highlight the bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia that have raged like wildfire within the last year.

Now, more than ever, we must draw attention to these atrocious acts. While we must do our best to bring positivity to those who are scared, we must drive out the negativity by shining light on the darkness. If we normalize such behaviors—if we allow hate speech and violence to slip under the radar—people will begin to think nothing’s wrong, when in reality, Trump’s win has essentially paved the path for bullying and animosity to blossom and flourish under his watch. We need to expose and publicize said acts in an effort to demonstrate how his position (and his Cabinet) impacts everyone, including children.

Much of the hate that’s emerged comes from kids who believe it’s suitable to emulate both their parents’ and Trump’s behaviors. Bigotry of this caliber isn’t born—it’s bred. It isn’t inherited. It’s learned. These children are chanting BUILD THAT WALL at Latinos in their school lunchroom and proclaiming WHITE POWER as they march through the halls. Many now believe that bullying leads to respect and that their Caucasian skin equates to superiority. We must condemn such acts at every turn for these developments aren’t normal. We must hold lawmakers accountable, we must hold the media accountable, and we must unquestionably hold our future president accountable, above all else.

Beyond our personal well-being and the well-being of our neighbors, we must stand up and speak out to preserve and protect our children’s future.megaphone

After all, just days post-election, while most were still mourning Hillary Clinton’s crushing defeat, I saw a young Latina girl shopping with her family. She was entirely unfazed by the world around her. Instead, her only worry was whether or not her mother would cave to her begging. The desired item in question? A “Girls Rule” sweatshirt. You see? Never let anyone tell you all hope is lost.

We have officially grieved long enough. Now we must act. For many who are still trying to make sense of this new reality, those actions may amount to nothing more than Facebook posts and retweets. Others may wear safety pins on their sweaters to show their support for marginalized groups. Thousands have already taken to the streets to protest Trump’s victory. Regardless of your choice, keep it up. Your effort will not go to waste. No one truly knows which steps are the correct steps to take next, but we can agree on one factor—we must not go quietly into the night.

Stay positive. Stay focused. Stay loud.

 

(Image courtesy of Fotolia and Catalyst HCC)

‘Bern’ Up the Polls: Why Sanders Supporters Must Vote for Hillary Clinton

board2Imagine, if you will, an intricate—albeit, metaphorical—game of Candy Land in which each block along the path represents the progress of the American political system. After years of gameplay, someone finally pulled the Ice Cream Floats card and we forged ahead with hope in our hearts. Barack Obama became our first African-American president, renewing the fervor that defines our country’s spirit.

Now, as we stand on the doorstep of that glorious candy cottage, our feet sticky and sweet with victory among the Molasses Swamp, Hillary Clinton’s nomination represents another breakdown of the barriers perpetuated by white men since the birth of our great nation.

But alas, as with any game of chance, risks and obstacles come with the territory. Donald J. Trump, for instance? Well, he’s the human equivalent of the Crooked Old Peanut Brittle House. Many may prefer to forget he’s lurking below the dwindling stack of cards, but picking him from the pile could set our hard-fought progress back immeasurably.

However, before Clinton can effectively start to chip away at the crumbling foundation of this nutcase—I mean, nut house—she must conquer one other complication: Bernie Bros. Much like landing on the blue space that requires you to stay put until you pull another blue card, Clinton has no choice but to stand firm and hope that these passionate, stubborn supporters eventually comprehend that, to bring Sanders’ visions to light, we must look to her as our guiding star.

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Bernie Sanders’ supporters have always seemed enlightened and informed, but I can’t help thinking that the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd hasn’t been listening at all. For many, voting for third-party candidates, or not voting at all, offers the most appeal—an ideal way to stick it to the establishment—but the only people who will pay for such obstinacy are the citizens these advocates supposedly stand behind in the first place. Not voting for Clinton ultimately equates to votes for Trump…and any Sanders supporter who’d prefer to see Trump in the White House clearly never understood Sanders’ “revolution” from the start.

One can easily deduce that Trump’s rise has fueled heightened racial and religious tensions because he serves as the mouthpiece for bigots who now know that they’re not alone in their way of thinking. Such backwards beliefs continue to run rampant throughout America, threatening to reverse decades of slow but steady advances toward justice and equality. Every word out of his mouth incites violence and anger in the hearts and minds of his most avid followers, positioning him as a bonafide danger to our national security. Countless politicians and officials have denounced his platform, citing his vitriol as fodder for inevitable disaster, yet blind supporters continue to rationalize his outbursts via borderline admissions that he’s simply not suited to fill this powerful position.

tumblr_oay4gm40Sd1qiuiebo1_540Yet while Clinton haters are also quick to recite her laundry list of transgressions, only the ignorant (and possibly mentally unstable?) can honestly believe that Trump has what it takes to guide our country. No matter your take on Benghazi or Clinton’s private email server, one cannot deny that she’s spent literal decades dedicating her life to public service. And I can’t help but wonder how voters and mainstream media would perceive said missteps if she were of the male persuasion. After all, former president Bill Clinton—our dear candidate’s husband—has managed to shirk his adulterous legacy in exchange for one of supporter-in-chief. Spectators marvel at his fascination with balloons, but fail to acknowledge the strength of the woman running the show—the woman who forgave him and repaired her marriage at a time when she could’ve easily given up. Her personal resilience and determination, right there, indicate that she will always persist when pushed to the breaking point.

Much like the public’s perception of President Obama (and every president in recent history, honestly), people assume that Hillary Clinton’s past, present, and future positions function independently. Most fail to recognize that each elected official works within the body of our government. Trump believes he can singlehandedly solve any and all problems throughout America, but true leaders understand that both successes and failures have been and always will be a team effort. Clinton will continue to command the support and respect of her most competent peers, as she walks alongside, not ahead of, them during her time in office. Most Democrats have already come together to back Clinton’s candidacy, while notable Republicans continue to condemn Trump and break party ties in support of Clinton, too. If that doesn’t make an indelible statement, I don’t know what will…

Despite all this, I completely understand how Bernie Sanders’ supporters feel because, honestly, Hillary Clinton wasn’t my first choice, either. But no candidate can guarantee that all their promises will come to fruition and no candidate can foresee the hurdles that will test their resolve. Our volatile atmosphere has left us all on edge, which is precisely why we need to come together to defeat Trump once and for all, even if that means voting for the lesser of two evils, as Stephen Colbert explains in the clip below.

 

 

I’m not saying I trust Clinton implicitly, but with so many well respected leaders—including Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders himself—in her corner, she certainly can’t be as bad as the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd may think. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and do everything in my power to ensure she earns the opportunity to prove herself over the next four years. (I’d still love to know if a man in her shoes would face this much incessant scrutiny, thought…) I recognize that I am privileged to vote for another historic candidate and that her success will inspire the next generation to chase their dreams.

For many, Hillary Clinton isn’t the candidate they want, but when faced with the alternative, we must all admit that she’s the one we need. Hopefully her promises and policies won’t ultimately leave a bad taste in our mouths for years to come.

 

(Images courtesy of Games MuseumThe Huffington Post, and Sarah Andersen)