Why I’m Pro-Choice

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In theory, being pro-life would be nice. The name in and of itself sounds like a melody. I mean, how could you be anything but? If you’re not pro-life, does that mean you’re pro-death?

I remember being in 6th grade, sitting in art class at my super conservative elementary school. I was sitting at a large, rectangular table with my classmates, painting trees and talking serious politics as, you know, all 6th graders do.

The topic of abortion came up and everyone started playing the “what would you do?” game. Essentially the question went like this: If you were to find out you were pregnant tomorrow, would you have an abortion?

Every single person at that table said they would absolutely have the baby. And as a matter of fact, they added, they’d also raise the baby. It was only right.

I sat there painting my tree and I got a funny feeling in my stomach. It’s not that I thought they were lying to me, but rather, to themselves. It aggravated me how sure they were of their answers; how easy they thought it was. It’s so easy to be sitting in 6th grade art class and declare that you’d never have an abortion. That people who do are evil. That no matter what you’d have that baby. Right now you’re painting trees so it’s easy, but what if you were raped? Would it still be so easy?

The idea of terminating an unborn child actually makes me physically nauseous. And it’s something that I feel should absolutely never be considered after a certain period of time. I have a serious problem with ending the life of a developed baby. Trust me, I do.

But I also have a serious problem with hypocrites.

It’s just too easy. Right now I’m nowhere in that position, so it’s easy for me to say that of course I would never believe in abortion. Of course, I’d never do that. Of course, no one ever should.

But how can I say that? How can I ever know what it’s like to walk in those shoes? I can’t imagine it’s that easy.

From a young age, I’ve always been outspoken in my beliefs. And that day in 6th grade art class was no exception. As everyone sat there declaring with absolute certainty that they, under no circumstances, would ever have an abortion, I cleared my throat and said what many were surely thinking, but none would say.

Immediately, the room fell silent.

“You…what?”

I cleared my throat.

“I said I don’t know what I’d do.”

As expected, I sat there for the remainder of the class being judged, attacked, and looked down upon.

“How could you possibly do such a thing?” they snapped at me.

“How could you possibly know?” I calmly asked back, my voice shaking only a little.

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Guilty or Not Guilty?

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Back when I was interested in law, I matter-of-factly declared to my mom one day, “I want to be a prostitute.” I couldn’t understand why she was so appalled by my ambitious goals until I realized I had misspoken. What my 10-year-old self meant to say was that I wanted to be a prosecutor. Prostitute. Prosecutor. Same thing.

But upon further investigation, I realized prostitution wasn’t the only thing that wouldn’t be in my future. Prosecution would not be as well.

When most people hear of a crime on the news, their first reaction is to instantly feel sympathy for the victim and anger toward the perpetrator. But for me? I immediately jump to the defense of the criminal.

What if he didn’t do it?
What if it was a mistake?
A misunderstanding?
What if he’s sorry?

Believe me when I say how ignorant and stupid I probably sound. If someone raped and killed a woman, he doesn’t deserve redemption. And if he’s not put behind bars, he’ll probably do it again. And if he does it again, well that’s just not okay.

I know all that. And yet I always play the role of the defendant in my head. Maybe it’s because I always want to see the best in people. Or maybe I just really believe in second chances. Either way, it’s instinctual for me.

I guess it’s not so much that I side with criminals, but rather, that I need to hear both sides. Instinctually, I gravitate toward anyone who’s being targeted. If 1,000 people are hating a person, then I guess I need to be that one who doesn’t. I love exploring the other side.

Take football games for instance. When Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets throws an interception, everyone hurls insults and curse words at their TV. Sometimes I’m a part of this, but mostly, I just feel bad for the guy. While everyone’s yelling away, I’m sitting there thinking, “I can’t imagine how sad he feels right now.”

Before you call me stupid, let me just say that my brother and dad already have you covered. They assure me that he and his multi-million dollar contract will be just fine. But as an extremely empathetic person, I just can’t help my reaction.

I don’t care about the fact that he just ruined the game for us. He’s human. And I guess that’s a big part of my weird instinct to defend people. If nothing else, humanity unites us all. It’s just so hard for me to give up on people. To find them purely evil. And yes, people like that do exist in the world, like ISIS. But I’m talking about the people who are sorry. Who have regrets. Who are truly human.

I’m not saying that criminals shouldn’t go to jail. Not at all. I’m just saying I could never be the one to put them there. I’m too much of a softy (in a bad way) and I have the utmost respect for the prosecutors who have the strength, skills, and resilience to put them there.

Prostitutes are pretty cool, too.

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Why Me?

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When I was younger, whenever something bad happened to me the very first thought that popped into my mind was, “why me?”

Why did I have to break my wrist?
Why did have to develop allergies?
Why do I have to wear glasses?

I can actually remember thinking, “This shouldn’t be happening to me. It should be happening to some random girl in China.” I didn’t mean this to be offensive in any way to China or Chinese people anywhere. China was just the farthest place away that my primitive brain could think of. It felt like it’d be easy to exchange my problems with a random girl across the world. Her life is probably perfect, I’d think. I’d gladly take her “problems.” Not that she probably even has any.

How naive!

Eventually I realized how horrible this mindset was and realized I needed to change. How could I be so willing to dump my problems on another human being? How could I be so stupid to assume her problems probably weren’t even that bad? Of course, my problems were the worst. was suffering the most. Oh, how wonderful it is that I’m no longer that callous.

Now whenever something bad happens to me, I immediately say to myself, “Why not me?” This is probably going to sound weird, but I always picture in my mind that little, fictitious girl in China. I’ll smile to myself and be glad that it’s me experiencing this instead of her. I know that’s not the way this whole thing works. Just because I fall and scrape my knee doesn’t mean I’m taking one for the team and preventing all kids across the world from scraping theirs. But still, it’s a comforting thought.

I just hope that little girl in China is doing okay, I’ll think to myself.

…yet another racist white woman

Ellen Degeneres made a joke…and the whole world went crazy.

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Ellen’s known for photoshopping herself onto celebrities in pictures. From posing next to a naked Kim Kardashian to joining the Harry Potter clan, she’s photoshopped it all. And Olympic athlete Usain Bolt was no exception. But because of this picture – this one singular picture – all of a sudden she’s a racist and sexist and a bigot. People immediately jumped to the defense of poor Usain Bolt who is the target of yet another racist white supremacist. How could Ellen be so insensitive?

GIVE ME A BREAK.

Sometimes it seems like there are people in this world whose sole purpose is to wait around, just looking for something to pounce on.

And honestly, these people are doing more bad than good for the fight against racism. Think about it like this: If cops were going around writing every single person tickets for absolutely no reason, we’d then have absolutely no respect for policemen and certainly no respect for the law. It would become a joke to us.

That’s precisely what happens when people try to label things as racist that just aren’t. Suddenly the word racist holds no meaning. If a lighthearted joke like Ellen’s is racist, then I guess I’m racist too. And then I guess racism isn’t even so bad after all. Obviously I’m not racist, nor do I think racism is okay in any circumstances. But labeling things as racist that aren’t is doing such an injustice to every single person involved.

The most ironic thing of all is that out of everyone involved in this situation, Ellen is probably the least racist. The opposite of racism is seeing people for who they are, regardless of skin color. It’s when you look past someone’s exterior and into their heart, without even thinking about it. That’s exactly what Ellen did when she posted that photo. Its implications didn’t even cross her mind because why should they? His skin color didn’t even matter because why should it? The truth is, if Usain Bolt was a white man, none of this would be happening. But because he’s black, people saw an entirely different meaning to the picture. Ellen, however, did not. Nor did any person who isn’t racist. Because once again, skin color didn’t even cross our minds.

These people are doing the exact opposite of what anyone who is fighting against racism should be doing. They are further segregating us; further dividing us. They are creating good guys and bad guys and enemies out of innocent people.

Do you want to know what Usain Bolt did when he saw the picture?

He retweeted it.

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The Curse of Curiosity

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I’ve always been intrigued by people who don’t wonder.

Whenever someone tells a story, no matter the topic, a million questions instantly pop into my mind. It’s like I turn into some sort of investigator who needs to know every single minute detail from the what to the who to the when. Before the (understandably) annoyed storyteller can get halfway through the story, I’ve already made her go back to the beginning a dozen times. More detail. More information. More answers.

I never thought this was odd until I became the storyteller; the roles were now reversed. Time after time, my friends would listen to my tales, but time after time it was just that: they would simply listen. They wouldn’t feel the need to interject or push for any more detail than I had provided. They’d let out a laugh if it was funny or a gasp if it was shocking. But no questions ensued. When I realized this, two things happened.

(1) I became mildly concerned that my stories simply weren’t interesting enough.

(2) I became self-conscious. I need to be more laid-back. More chill. If someone leaves something out of the story, it’s probably not that important anyway. I made a note to simply listen the next time a friend told a story.

But I just couldn’t.

Why? Because I was too curious. There was so much I needed to know.

I’ve always been very interested in human beings. I have my own set of beliefs, morals, and standards, but I’m not the type of person who thinks it’s my way or the highway. I’m always interested in hearing the other side of an issue or what a person really thinks. While I often surround myself with like-minded people, there’s nothing I love more than speaking with someone who couldn’t be any more different than me. I’m open to change. Who knows? Maybe you just might change my mind. I want to be challenged and I want to challenge others. The problem? Not everyone likes a challenge.

As a matter of fact, most people don’t. When I fire my questions, people instantly become defensive. And 9 times out of 10, they perceive it as one thing and one thing only: judgment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called judgmental in my life. And sometimes people are right. We all judge others based on what they wear or how they talk or who they’re with. It’s human nature; instinct. But most of the time, I simply just want to know.

I have no idea why, but it seems as though everyone has it in their head that two people can’t disagree. God forbid two people have opposing views on religion or politics and it’s the end of the world. But WHY? If anything, that makes things so  much more interesting. Unfortunately, most people don’t see it that way and most people don’t even care.

This brings me back to my original thought: I’ve always been intrigued by those who don’t wonder. How can people simply accept the fact that the sky is blue and the sun sets every night? How can they not ask questions?

My curiosity has led me to over-think. And be perceived as judgmental. And nosy. And argumentative. And annoying.

That is its curse.

But it has also led me to explore. And gain understanding. And knowledge. And, as a matter of fact, to be the exact opposite of judgmental.

That is its blessing.

Bottom line: We all have different personality traits that make us who we are. In my opinion, I don’t think they’re inherently good or inherently bad. I think that’s up to us to decide. I’m curious. Nothing I say or do will change that. But instead of slapping on a label of nosy or contrary or argumentative, I choose to merely say: I’m curious. And what’s wrong with that?

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Do All Lives Matter?

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“All Lives Matter.”

The first time I heard this expression, I thought, Yes. This solves everything. Why hadn’t I thought of that? It desegregates angered people and unites a divided nation. Included in this slogan are both the young black men who have been unfairly killed, as well as the brave police officers who have found themselves wrongly vilified. There. Problem solved. Or so I thought…

At a time of such unrest, people naturally tend to take sides. You’re either with the victims of color or the heroes in blue. But I can’t even begin to emphasize how outrageous that truly is. Once again, people try to generalize and label and stuff each other into neat little boxes (metaphorically, of course). And once again, that’s just not possible.

The color of your skin is not a representation of the knowledge in your brain or the love in your heart. A man who has committed manslaughter and is sitting in jail is black. But so is the president of the United States. Color is meaningless.

Likewise, the occupation you choose doesn’t determine the type of person you are. Just because you put on a uniform, doesn’t mean you’re automatically a good person. At the same time, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you person. You go to work, eat 3 meals a day, and say goodnight to your family at bedtime. You’re human.

There are good cops and there are bad cops. There are cops who are mean and cops who are nice. Cops who are funny and cops who are not. The same goes for black people. Particularly, young black men.

So how can someone possibly take a side? There are no sides to take. It’s not a case of good vs. evil. It’d be easy for me to tie up my argument here and slap on a giant bow that reads, “All Lives Matter.” But honestly, that would be the most ignorant, nonsensical thing I could possibly do.

The “All Lives Matter” quip came as a response to the all-too-familiar “Black Lives Matter” movement. At its core, BLM is a wonderful thing that garners attention toward a horrible thing: innocent black men falling prey to the bullets of policemen. Unfortunately, it has escalated into hate and violence. Blacks – and whites – all around the country are burning down businesses, assaulting police officers, and setting fires. While doing so, they chant their motto: Black Lives Matter. As easy as it is to now look at this movement with disgust, you have to remember that this wasn’t the original intent. But when you see the fires and murders and violence, it’s easy to forget and it’s easy to counteract BLM with our own mantra; one that’s not seeping with violence or hate. It seems, as I thought upon first hearing it, to be the much more practical solution.

But it’s not.

I thought about it like this: Pretend you’re holding a charity event for gallbladder cancer. You gather a bunch of friends, unite under this wonderful cause, and raise a lot of money. But then, all of a sudden, a mob of people rush in and shut down your event. They kick over your money box and rip down your signs. The reason? All cancers matter. What about leukemia? they sneer. Is that not important too? Yes, leukemia is certainly important too. So is cancer of the brain, skin, and colon. But right now it’s about gallbladder cancer. Right now the mortality rate is almost 100%. People are dying of this disease more than any other. Right now those dying of gallbladder cancer need us. You can go and have a fundraiser for whatever cancer you want, but right now, this is what we’re doing.

That’s kind of what this whole Black Lives vs. All Lives is like. Yeah, white people matter. So do brown people and yellow people and orange people (spray tan crew, where you at?). But right now, black people need our attention; our help. Right now, they’re the ones suffering.

I will support the Black Lives Matter movement that was originally created. My hope is that they look to the nonviolent people of history who forged a path for us all. I hope they put away their weapons and put down their fists.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said:

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Can Emojis Change the World?

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You know that cute little gun emoji that you always use? The one that would sum up your feelings toward tomorrow’s math test that no words ever could? Well, get ready to say goodbye because as soon as you update to iOS 10, it’ll be no longer.

The issue of guns is a hot topic currently sweeping the nation. Whether or not you’re for them, there’s no arguing the fact that they can be deadly. If they fall into the wrong hands, mayhem can ensue. And it has. Something needs to be done, but no one can seem to agree on what. In a time of so much confusion, I can tell you with absolute certainty that discarding an emoji isn’t going to fix anything. But could it be a place to start?

Here’s the thing: words without actions are meaningless. At the same time, however, actions are not possible without words. After all, everything you see in this world started with a thought.

Once you install iOS 10, that silver gun emoji will suddenly turn into a harmless, green water gun. There! Problem solved! Right?! Obviously not. But not everything is meant to lead directly to change. Any movement in history – from color equality to women’s rights – required thousands of failures and an unremitting dialogue. No, that one protest isn’t going to make a huge difference, but it’ll make difference. And that’s all you need.

When I first heard about this emoji fiasco, my first instinct was to roll my eyes. It was dumb, pointless, and honestly? I happened to love that gun emoji.

But then I gave it a bit more of a thought, and I realized how cool of Apple this really is. What a subtle statement. No, Apple didn’t solve world hunger or put an end to violence. But you have to realize, that’s not Apple’s job. As a tech company, Apple simply can’t do those things. What it can do, however, is start a conversation, and hopefully that conversation can one day lead to change.

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