How it feels to be white in America.

So ready for some controversy? Good.

I am feeling a little discriminated against by…the system!

Nah, too dramatic.

Still, for all I read and hear about what it’s like to be in a minority group, I wonder.

Okay, it’s not like this bothers me every single day of my life or anything…it just occurred to me at school today when I did something mildly nice for an Asian student. I had the thought “What would my actions be construed as by the wrong person?” Any number of things i suppose, but with the blatant hostility I read about sometimes, I had to wonder. Would my help be seen as some psychological need on my part to absolve myself from the charge of prejudice? To show that i don’t see myself as a cut above non white students? Or above foreign ones.

Anyway, what really bugs me is tokenism. Which targets minority groups. It works like this, by stressing how excluded a minority is, and then including one or two members of that minority in your project, you make it seem like you’re on their side.

However, it’s kind of bizarre to make a point out of including someone just for their race or gender. Isn’t that basically the same as saying they are different? That different rules apply?

And if you should choose not to work with those people, you get accused of being bigoted. Though you could have legitimate reasons not too. I don’t choose that myself, but I know business owners who’ve been burned plenty of times by minority group members. Just because you’ve been discriminated against doesn’t make you a good employee.

That’s kind of the problem. Just as someone can’t lack worth because of a their race, neither can they gain worth. Black lives don’t matter more than anyone elses. All lives matter.

Being born one color doesn’t grant superiority, inferiority, amnesty, or guilt.

I think most of us would be surprised how many people got turned into racists simply because they were accused of being so. Maybe our idea of what racism is changed, or maybe our idea of ourselves changes if enough people say bad things about us. White people have been as much a victim of that as anyone else.

How it feels to be white living in America now is something that people don’t talk about very often. Even saying white can be a trigger word. Now, I’m sure, I’d make some eyes roll if I said being white can be hard now. Well sue me. (Not literally.) It can be kind of rough.

I hate  having to ask the question if I do things because I am kind, or because I feel guilty. Now, I don’t really entertain that thought, but the fact that it’s even come to mind is kind of sad.

I remember as a kid I used to be kind of uncomfortable around black people. I didn’t know any personally for years. I guess there weren’t that many where I lived. (There still aren’t come to think of it.) But I never considered them as inferior. Just different. On the outside.

You know, the madness has gotten to the point where my even feeling that way would be twisted by some people into saying that racism is just part of being human and I couldn’t help myself. And white supremacy, blah, blah, blah.

You now the black people I do know now are all more well off than my family is, so much for white middle class pride.

I’d be glad enough to think that when I pass a black person at school they don’t look at me and think “racist” or assume I’m privileged. Or that somehow I have advantages they don’t.

If you took race out of it, just assumed race has nothing to do with success, then the difference between me and them is…not outward.

It’d be a fair guess that most of them weren’t homeschooled, based on what I know of young people, a lot of them don’t like to read, they probably don’t really like school most of them.

That’s what I’ve seen from all students, race isn’t important. Even the Asians who are reputed to be the brainy, honor roll, geniuses complain about classwork. The few white students in my classes actually yap the least in general about the teacher. They tend to be quieter too. I can’t say if that’s race, environment, temperament, or all three.

But, here’s the thing. If I succeed academically and then at a career, it’ll be assumed by a large amount of the population that I was given preference over these other students. “Of course she did well,” they might think, “the system was rigged for her.”

It’s slippery when you can convince everyone that the system is rigged against one group, and secretly rig it against another.

Here’s a little trivia for you. Guess how many groups I can be a part of just because of my race? Guess what scholarship opportunities and clubs I get to join because of it? Guess what kind of discrimination claims I can file if I don’t get selected for something?

If you answered none to all of those, then you’d be right. Can you imagine, even in the midwestern part of this country, someone starting a white pride club?

It’s laughable isn’t it. Now this will be hard for some people to understand but bear with me…If you can’t start a club about how proud you are to be your race because that in itself would be considered racist…that’s a double standard.

“I’m painfully white,” “I’m too white,” “I’m so white, people need shades when I’m at the beach.” What kind of talk is this? And who made it okay for white people to disparage their skin color, but shameful for black people or Latinos to. (Not that they don’t still. Anyone can have this problem, it’s just how its viewed by society.)

I am not saying white people can’t make jokes at our own expense, I just don’t like the underlying shame in the tone of these jokes. We aren’t proud to be this way…we feel unable to change it.

What saddens me is that some very bitter people (not all by a long shot) in minority groups would say this is what we deserve after years of doing it to them. How does it feel?

Well, how does it feel? Guess what, my roots aren’t all in the oppressor. My grandfather’s family was the oppressed. They had to leave Europe. Now, who’s had it worse? I’m sure either side could make an argument.

But because I look white and american, no one will ever think just be seeing me “her grandpa got persecuted for his race. Her great grandparents got forced out of their homes by a corrupt government.” Just like African Americans. What is the blooming difference?

That I’m white.

What stings is not that I want payback for it all. I don’t. I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s in the past. Things change. We change with them. And maybe, dare I say, Jews understand this a little better because we are so universally despised. We adapt though we hold on to tradition.

No, what stings is the assumptions. Again, some Africans I know have a less brutal history than my family does, even if you go back a few generations. Not all of them, and probably not most of them if I’m honest. But what will be assumed?

To restate the old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Why do we keep on focusing on what divides us? I’m not the first to ask, and I won’t be the last. If they don’t care, I won’t either. But I’m not living my life feeling guilty for something I didn’t do.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

RAGE!

Okay, I normally stay away from two things when I blog: Politics and outright reprimands.

But I’ve had it!

This is not about Judge Kavnaugh, though that whole mess is partly what got me to thinking about this, but also what I’ve been reading about in my Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric book. It has a whole chapter devoted to how we justify our own bad ways of thinking.

The whole book has a liberal slant, but its not wrong.

But  my problem is not just with politics, but with how we as a culture and as a people are handling conflict. And I mean this is extremely personal, because I find it in myself. I see it in the people around me. Slapped on slogans, broadcasted over talk radio, and good gracious the  news network! For crying out loud, it’s even in our superhero movies and teen dramas.

That thing can be put into one word: Rage.

“Oh, it’s well beyond rage”–William Wallace, Braveheart.

Just take a minute and think about it, what word would you use to describe the way people talk about each other? The way they talk about policies?

What I hear and feel when I see the news is rage.

It’s mindless too. And I’ll admit my own political party is nearly as bad as the Left (clearly we’re not rioting and sending death threats.) I am disgusted by Conservatives who spend all their time blasting the left. While I wholeheartedly believe the left is wrong, and I can’t help but think they act abominably as a whole, even if as individuals I know plenty of decent liberals, but I have never felt the appropriate response was to return in kind.

Pointing fingers is not helpful, maybe we’re right, maybe we’re not, but playing the  blame game will not leave anyone innocent. In fact, it’s stupid for human beings to play this with each other.

It’s like how Adam and Eve pointed fingers in the Garden, both of them did wrong, did it help to blame others? We can argue for hours on who was more guilty, but it won’t change the past.

We can’t change the past.

I’ll tell you one thing, if tomorrow every democrat I knew of had a change of heart and started doing the right thing and standing up for the truth, then it wouldn’t matter to me what the party had done in the past. I don’t freaking care what the Clintons did, or Obama, because it’s in the past. What I care about is the future, if democrats were doing what I honestly thought was best, then I would vote for them.

My identity is not in my political party name, it’s in my morals. Conservatism lines up with what I believe in, that doesn’t mean conservatives always do things I like. I don’t support the party because I like all the people in it, but because I think the bad ones do less damage, and the good ones do more good overall.

Fixing the politics in this country would take a number of miracles, and both the left and the right are holding us back. I’m not ashamed for my party’s ideals, but I’m ashamed of the way we uphold them,

Rage is a virus. It’s contagious. And it’s all about returning in kind. The Left has been awful to the Right, no mistake, but being awful back…this bickering, name calling, mocking, and whining…I consider it beneath us.

Look, I’ll get frustrated with liberals just as much as the next conservative, but I do not hate them. I don’t consider them all to be the worst of humanity. (Some yes, but you’ll find those in every party.) I may get mad at what they do, but I do not want to let myself be consumed by rage every day. It has to be exhausting to do a talk show on politics.

Now, I know there would be protests here. Some would argue that conservatives have to be more aggressive because we own so little of the networks. True enough. I’m not against showing initiative. But, if we’re really as better at politics and morals as we claim, then we shouldn’t have to stoop to yelling and verbal jabs. Or generalizations.

What are we so mad about anyway? That evil exists? That in our mind it’s represented by the opposition? That people can be liars, thieves, abusers, backstabbers, accept bribes, and be unbelievably biased (the ironic thing here is that for some of you I just described my own party.) Did it surprise anyone? Why is that making us angry?

The Bible says not to fret over evildoers, and to not give way to wrath or let anger consume us because it only leads to harm.

I challenge you, whether you’re right or left, to take a long hard look at how your party acts toward the opposition. Ask yourself, is that how I believe people should be treated?

I admit, no. There, I said it.

I especially implore you college students and teens, many of you are liberal, and it’s easy for young people to feel anger over causes (I ought to know, I am one.) But, is this the legacy you want to leave? Rage? Ten years from now, will you be glad of what you did out of rage, or what you did out of mercy?

I’m not letting conservative young people off the hook, how cruel can we be to the others? What kinds of things do we call them on social media.

If there’s one thing I do agree with liberals on, it’s that human rights include not being disrespected and then having it justified because of prejudice. But that goes for them too. If you believe racism is wrong, stop labeling everyone who disagrees with you a racist…because that’s still being bigoted. Does that make you better than us?

Conservatives, stop accusing liberals of destroying the country. We’re all doing it. It’s not just them. And it’s not really the wisest way to change their minds either.

Lastly, everyone for your own sanity and relationship’s sake, please, for the love of all things holy, let go of your rage. It’s blinding us all to the truth. Blame is a waste of time. It doesn’t matter. At the very least, Christians should be comforted by the thought that God will judge in the end who is to blame. He won’t play favorites.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Incredibles 2

Whew! I’m sorry I haven’t posted, I’ve been working on a different project and there’s only so much screen time my eyes can take per day.

But I had to get this out, late as it is, but I have finally gotten to see The Incredibles 2!

I know I’m tardy, but hey, I can’t afford movie tickets, my dad took us. I know that some people may still have not seen it, so I’ll warn you there will be spoilers in this review.

But my overall impression was that the movie surprised me. Given the kind of sub-par Disney and Dreamworks sequels we’ve gotten over the past five years or so, (with how to Train your Dragon being an exception) and the reboots of old Disney Classics that did not go over well, it would have been hard not to be skeptical, add that to the fact that The Incredibles is one of the most brilliant superhero movies or kids movies ever made, and who was not cynical about it’s prospects. Everyone I heard was.

And we were partly right, the movie is not as good as the original, but strangely enough, it’s not a bad movie either. It’s actually above what’s come to be average.

What did I not like?

There’s plenty to not like in the film, mostly int he first 40 minutes or so. The movie had a bad case of the 15 year later addition loss of personality syndrome. Even Toy Story 3 lost a little, though I still think that movie is freaking amazing and it makes me cry, and the characters didn’t change much in it. But you can’t say that in this case, Mr. Incredible,or Bob, is the most notable example. On the surface he has the same issues of wanting to be superhero as he did before, but they really ignored all his vies on mediocrity and his concern about helping people. The mediocrity stint comes in a little bit but the focus was more on how unfair the law was. More on that later.

Dash also got hit hard, it wasn’t so much that he lost his personality as that he was barely in the movie at all except as a background character. Somehow the first one managed to give even the characters with no lines, like Jack-Jack, or minimal lines, like Violet, a lot of personality. And Dash just seems…out of it. He was still fun for what he did do, but I miss the kid who just loved using his powers.

The biggest thing not to like however was how they dumped on poor Tony Ryanger. What happened to him was completely unnecessary. The movie opens up with his perspective, which is an interesting idea that I would normally like. What does it look like to a normal kid to see a super villain shoot up out of the ground near his school? Him seeing Violet without her mask might have been interesting too. But then he gets his memory of her erased…and never gets it back. If you knew me and how many times I’ve ranted about this very thing in shows, and I watch so much super-related stuff that you can guess I’ve seen it quite a few times. It’s a common action theme also. Suffice to say, I didn’t like it in X-Men first class, I didn’t like it in Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension, I don’t like it any other time it pops up. Even Barbie has done it. My reasons are: First of all, memory erasing is unethical, and it’s always good guys who are doing it, usually the government. Which is disturbing on so may levels. Second of all: It’s unfair. Often the character never even gets a chance to be found trustworthy or mature, which happened in this case, they get their free will removed by the event. Third: This is the least wrong thing, but it is just lazy writing. You get someone to forget and you don’t have to deal with the far reaching effects of the dumb idea. Like, it was dumb to do it in the first place if it couldn’t be resolved any other way…which it could have!

I really was almost ready to cry for poor Violet, she’s always been my favorite character and I completely felt her pain. What teenager doesn’t know the frustration of your crush not even knowing you exist!…this time literally.

And Tony, who I also liked as much as he was in it, never gets his memory back, which seems just too unfair. Why should someone’s mind be able to be messed with that much?

Anyway, that was the bad, and it did leave a sour taste in my mouth even at the end of the movie, so that’s a big problem. But now for the not bad.

Though this will depend on your point of view, because the villain in this movie was full on Scary. And I mean that I started getting a Matrix/horror film vibes during one part. It was like a much more mature movie. Now I know a lot of my shortsighted peers are gong to think that’s a good thing, but as someone who works with kids and still remembers what it was like a thing movies like that when I was younger, I cans ya I’m not sure I would show this to my seven year old. Maybe it would go over their heads, but it’s pretty interest. The hypnotism, seeing the heroes you loved being mind controlled into doing evil, and it was scary. They were more terrifying then Baymax going all hulk like for a few seconds in Big Hero 6. No one would have a hard time empathizing with Violet and Dash when first their parents and then their Uncle Lucius end up controlled by the Screen Slaver.

However, because the movie does turn serious rather suddenly, it did have a compelling message. Unfortunately, the compelling one was the villain’s. The Screenslaver calls out our society for being very much like the one in Farenheit 451 (which I just recently read) how we like everything packaged to us, deliver to us in a safe format that we can process. Our danger come s via screens, our talks shows substitute for talking to each other, and we prefer to let superhero take care of a our problem while we watch form a distance, safe. Which is exactly what happens in Farenheit 451, only the problem the police are taking care of is actually the worlds’ salvation. It would be easy enough to see how the Screenslaver would put themself in that position Especially since that protagonist murdered and framed people also to ensure his escape. It’s not the happiest book.

The things is, as the villain points out at the end of the movie to Mrs Incredible. “Just because you saved me doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” And it doesn’t. However well-intentioned Mrs. Incredible might be, she cannot really disprove the villain’s points because by nature she is outside regular society. She has to be. Supers can’t afford to be lazy and indolent.

I love good characters, and I hate it when people say the villain was them more interesting one. And I won’t say she was more interesting, but in a very Marvel like fashion, this movie makes the villain’s case and fails to make the heroes.

My family and I discussed how in real life when disaster strikes, you do see ordinary people coming to the rescue. My dad pointed out that it happen during 911 on the planes, where passengers stopped the terrorist. It happened at the shooting at Columbine high school. It’s happened recently. In fact disaster brings out the best and worst in people. Humans who have some mettle in them rise to the occasion. It is because we have such boring lives that most of us are neither bad nor good. And it is also why Moral Relativism can be so popular. Frankly, only a bored and lazy society could even buy into it. Disaster forces you to pick a right or wrong, you have no choice.

That said, the villain’s professed intent is to scare people into waking up to how fake their society is by using that against them. However the movie show no ordinary people coming to help the Incredibles. In fact the ordinary people are either fired, taken out, or have their freaking memory erased. Anyone who might’ve disproved her point is removed from the equation and no one else is provided. Unlike in Spiderman where the New Yorkers were inspired by his heroism to stand up to the Goblin and Doctor Octopus.

It may be true that many of us here in the real world prefer to watch superhero movies because of escapism. But some of us, like me, are looking for inspiration. Looking for an example to be held up somewhere for us to follow. Oddly enough, in the first movie, Buddy gets this. Though he gets it in an obsessive way.

I call it Marvel Syndrome, the disappointing fact that a movie can explain the villains perspective and even back it up with its own fictitious events, but not do the same for the hero. And that’ a problem. because words have power, and people will remember them. I see the disrespect for human beings spreading in these movies. And though we give lip service to the heroes, we are are sympathizing a lot more with the villains because it seems like they are right. I have endless examples of this just form Marvel. Thankfully at leas Wonder Woman did not fall into this trap. She rocks.

Anyway, despite all the time I jsut spent on what eas wiehter bad or problematice, there is a lot of good in this movie.

I loved having Violet being the smart, take charge character that she became in the fist movie. She didn’t lose that, and that was huge since a lot of the other characters suffered set backs in their personalities. Even though Violet gets burned by being different more than anyone except her dad, she was still willing to don her suit and jump in as soon as she realized what was going on. and she’s definitely the one who can think, she figured out the villain’s plan, how to save the ship, and creative ways to fight the bad guys. She and Dash still have their funny brother-sister exchange.

Dash’es one real charcter moment was usning the incrdibile. Taht was funny. And a good chekovs’s ugn pay off.

And I’ll give Helen this much, she does get fleshed out more. We come to see why she loved being a super hero. And we know she gave that up more willingly then Bob, but she gets to rediscover why she was all “Hey, we’re not letting the men do all the saving. I’m at the top of my game!” And though Bob of course originally was the one who wanted to settle down she was the one who made it work, and she still keeps her family at the top of her priority list even in the midst of chasing down a train. It was great to Helen have her time to shine, yet to be honest, I came to the movie for the family. And we do get it for the last 20 minutes, similarly to the first one.

Now the final battle was not quite as climatic. A ship crashing into a city jsut doens’ thave the smae irng to it as a giant Robot wrecking havoc. But it was dramitc enough to give everyoen time to shine. wE get to see FRozone do a lto more and be a lot mro powerful, which was cool. No pun intended. Mrs. Incrdibles’ fake out to get eh villains’ guard down was clever, had me going almost. I kind of missed Bob having a more cirtical role, but fair enough, he got the winning shot int he last movie. It’s not all about him.

Now to talk about the other message of this movie. There’s a few different one.s One is that people who are true heroes will rise both the family and to hero work equally. Both Bob and Helen have to do this. And so do Vi and Dash, by keeping an eye on Jack-Jack even while rescuing their parents.

But I think there’s a more interesting message. No counter point is ever made to the villain, except just once, when Helen points out that she at least has core values, even if the villain thinks they are stupid.

And that is the hypocrisy of the villain’s plan, claiming you are trying to help, but being wiling to sacrifice other people to get your way and ave your own skin. That’s not heroism.

But even more than that the overall attitude that the law has in this movie, that supers are too dangerous to have around. And yeah, that’ about as original as capes and cowls by now, but the movie approaches it a little differently. The idea being that people are afraid of people who are special. That’s in the fist movie more, but if you take that foundation, then this movie makes more sense. It’s kind of like the whole anti-gun movement. Something is powerful, it’s dangerous, so that automatically makes it bad unless the government controls it. (Ri-ight.)

It’s too risky. But the movie shows that when we remove something good just because it has dangerous potential, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Because danger is what protects us as well as threatens us. Just like we need germs to have a strong immune system, we need danger in order to not be taken out by it.

Superheroes are like that. It’s not only unfair to outlaw them, but it is  unwise. Threats arise, and accidents happen because of them. But how much more could and would happen if they weren’t there? The villain could have hated people just as much without the added motivation of hating supers. And then who would have stopped her?

Eden if supers are not strictly necessary, they have gifts and they should use them for good. It goes back to being special. The question might be do we need exceptional people to keep moving us froward in order to survive? Maybe not, but we need them for other reasons. We have to have leaders, we have to have heroes. They remind us to not just subsist, but to do good.

And that’s what I’m leaving you with. Until next time–Natasha.

Hello again

I’m back!

My vacation was exhausting. I don’t think we go on vacations to rest, we do it to get away from our routine. that’s why it’s so tiring, New things make us tired.

Human beings are adaptable, but it’s not easy. After a week or so your body just wants to go home and sleep in your own bed.

My vacation was not one of those eye opening soul discovery ones. I was surrounded by various members of my family almost he entire time, jammed into a small car not meant to carry so much stuff, and on the road for 2 hours on a short day and 5-8 hours on a regular day.

But it did surprise me how, when I finally had a few hours to myself, and I settled down, I felt much clearer about what I needed to do.

In my life there’s so much noise, but what getting away from it made me realize that noise isn’t something that you ecape by switching location.

I went from a Suburban  area in a west coast state to the empty wilderness of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Hiking over mountains, driving through Yellowstone, and staying in towns of less than 2,000 people, which is unheard of where I live. As someone aware of how hard it can be to support a small business when you advertise to thousands of people, I wonder how motels in these tiny towns stay afloat, I guess the cost of living is less. Plus people might work a few different jobs.

Anyway, I always thought of myself as someone who liked quieter areas, but I realized I don’t. I like nature, but I feel out of place in rural country. It reminds me of one of the essays I read for English class “The Trouble with Wilderness.” The real wilderness left in this country is between the cities, it’s not even really our national parks. It’s the places no one goes to except wild horses. It’s the undergrowth that keeps animals out of sight form the road.

The truth is, wilderness is only something you find off the beaten (or paved) path. My sister and I got close to it driving a quad over a desert area. But even so, that’s not quite it. And I got to visit some dinosaur tracks, which I’m a big fan of, there were some paw prints there too, probably from a more recent animal. Still, that’s not really wilderness.

Wilderness is something you find when it’s just you alone with God and with nature.

Civilization is really just what you call it when two people meet and settle down. Why else does marriage represent civilization not just in the Bible, but in many religions and stories?

I don’t think it’s impossible for a couple to experience wilderness together, but when it comes to being in it even when you’re not out in nature, you need to be alone.

Capturing that feeling of wildness is something we can only do when we’re either by ourselves, or with someone else who has felt it and understands it.

The feeling you get when you’re out in the wind, or when you gaze at a sunset, or look at the mountains. When you feel really alone, but not lonely. That’s being wild. Because in those moments you dare to dream anything and you believe in anything.

It’s no surprise really that folks who live surrounded by nature used to come up with stories about fairies and elves and sprites, something about it makes you believe in what you can’t see.

After all Romans does say that the invisible attributes of God are plain to us because of nature.

The real reason science isn’t enough to produce faith isn’t that science disproves God, but that sciences deals with what our eyes see, while faith deals with the unseen world, because that’s where the spiritual, the most important part of life, takes place.

I realized that finding peace and quiet in my life isn’t something I can do by eliminating city noises till all I hear are crickets and grasshoppers. (Some of them in Wyoming make this weird popping sound that you wouldn’t think a bug that size could so without snapping itself in half.) It’s something I have to be willing to seek out.

Peace is about letting stuff go and focusing on God, or even just on another person in your life. Without the TV and the radio in the background.

And being willing to be by yourself for awhile. I actually had gotten out of practice, but when I chose to keep being alone, I felt it cleared my head.

So my exhortation to all of you is to take some time today and find that.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Shell Waterfall in Wyoming.

Non-stop.

I can’t believe that 250 years after American was founded, saying it is great is actually controversial even among its own people.

This isn’t about Yankee pride or anything like that. actually my ancestors were confederates. (That’s a joke.)

Anyway, I digress. I doubt my lineage has anything to do with how I feel about America. But as I’ve said before I used to not really like my country. Not because of slavery, or racism, which has been everywhere and only has changed drastically in a few select nations; but because people didn’t seem to care about our ideals anymore. If anything the Liberal Left seems to hate everything we were built on.

Slavery was wrong, yes. Though I might point out, that’s still not universally accepted around the world. It’s only a given here because it became the popular opinion.

The world at large never changes, it just morphs into different shades of the same thing.

But once I began reading up on America’s history I found that America has always been a place that cannot be judged by its government but by its people. It was founded fort hat reason.

If you look through what the founding fathers wrote after the county was started, you’ll find an underlying theme of respect for people. For farmers, for blacksmiths, for the common person.

And believe it or not, many of them were quite progressive for their time. Jefferson argued that Native Americans had rights. He still regarded them as not quite bright, but he thought they could be taught, though how to do that without ruining their culture remained a puzzle to him.

Sure, it’s easy to say now that he was still racist, but in a time when a lot of people regared the natives as trash and savages, he would have been quite controversial.

I also find the attitude of tearing down our founders because they did wrong things to be incredibly hypocritical.

We act surprised and shocked that they were still human beings who made mistakes. And we blame them for their wrong ideas about race and social Justice. Even though we have paved our way to social justice because of what they wrote and what they did.

Do we really think our beliefs now are so inscrutable as to be more correct in every way then theirs were.

In my opinion for every problem of theirs we’ve corrected, we have added one or two more of our own, because we have forgotten what enabled them to succeed at making a better country even with their flaws.

I just finished rereading “Carry on, Mr. Bowditch.” The story of America’s first great navigator who revolutionized navigation in a time when America really need to get its feet wet in the world of sea trade. (Pardon my pun.)

Perhaps some of you have seen or listened to Hamilton. The rap/light opera based on Alexander Hamilton’s life.

If you have heard it, you know his childhood was tough. But as the songs expressed, he was determined to “not throw away his shot.”

Back then, (and in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch I found the same theme) these exceptional founders and the geniuses who came after them, felt it was not unusual to want to make something of their lives. To live well, and add something to the world.

It was the American dream. Not that everything would be easy, but that success and meaning is possible.

If you listen to the last song in Hamilton, you’ll know his wife lived 50 more years after he was killed, and accomplished what women were not supposed to be able to accomplish in her time. Yet I had never heard of her before I listen to that. Afterward I looked it up, apparently it was all true. She started an orphanage, she recorded Hamilton’s life, which is why we know so much. She wanted his story to be told, and int he rap opera, they have fulfilled her wish, hundreds and thousands of people who would never read a book about it are still learning about him.

Both Hamilton and Bowditch had rough lives. And all the founders I read about had the same. People died, they got sick, they were poor. yet all of them save for a sad few, they bounced back.

American ideals were made possible by American grit. The attitude that if life knocks you down, you don’t just lie there, you get back up.

Now, if we lose our wife and almost die of a terrible disease and live through a war, we go to therapy. If our life sucks, so many of use choose to end it. We see no reason to keep living, we throw it away.

And reading their stories, I wonder what made them decide not to commit suicide, this kind pf pain seems unbearable. One terrible thing happened after another. Life was so fragile. Nothing was certain.

but as Hamilton has simply put it “I’m not throwing away my shot” and as the musical said “That man was nonstop.” And that’s the answer.

They were non-stop. If they lost a wife, eventually they remarried. If they lost a child, they still dared to have more. If they lost heir land, ended up flat broke, they got a job and climbed back up the ladder. They dared to go to sea even when every man in their family has died at sea. And their women either helped them int heir work, or let them do it without whining about it.

Non-stop. You never stop to let hardship turn into despair. That was their secret. You keep at it.

It’s like they say about riding a horse, surfing, or any sports you can get hurt in. Once you go down, you get back in the minute you can, or you never will.

Life is like that.

That spirit is the American spirit at its best. And while we aren’t perfect, that has always been the key to our changing and improving ourselves. If we lose that now, we lose our identity.

I don’t think, mind you, that you have to be American to have that kind of grit, my point it simply that our country was built by it and because of it.

Because we had the guts to say we can be responsible for own success and we don’t need a dictator to control our lives.

It seems like now that’s what we want. And make no mistake, we’ll get it if we continue to want it.

But I’m not going down yet. I have a legacy to live up to.

Until next time–Natasha.

(Don’t) Hit on me.

No this is not about how I hate men and don’t want to ever date.

This is about how some things aren’t so simple as they used to be.

Today for the second time I had some random guy come up to me out of nowhere and say “hi, how ya doing?” The first time I was sitting down during my lunch period and minding my own business, reading up on my English homework I believe. This time I was walking away form my campus’es learning center and some guy walking behind me just addressed me with no warning.

My sister pointed out, may be he was trying to be nice, or maybe it was a dare. My theory was he’s not American and somebody told him that in America you say hello to random people. (Both times the people were Asian and my college has many international students, so this could be a fair guess.)

That’s best case scenario.

I can tell you as a single woman at a secular college where we get warned about walking alone anywhere, three things are going through my head when a man I don’t know asks  me how I’m doing.

A. Are you hitting on me?

B. That’s kind of creepy.

C. Why are you talking to me? Do I look familiar?

Hey, I could just be overly suspicious of people…but I doubt it.

In a small town, or in the same neighborhood, this might not be weird. Also, if you said it in a friendly tone. This guy just kind of said it like he was forcing himself to say it. Then he must’ve chickened out because without another word he turned and walked into a different building, and I stared after him in bewilderment. (Perhaps the fact that I responded with an awkward wave and a baffled expression helped.)

Plus, I am taking a self-defense course, so the other thing running through my mind it: Do I have to use it?

Now, we young collegiates, we can be kind of cocky. We might want to get in a street fight just to show we could handle it. There are both good and bad reasons for feeling that way. I think part of it is to have the assurance that we can handle it. That’s what most of us crave, validation.

But I hear older men brag about how they could kick someone’s rear end too (not that they use that term.) I myself like to say how I would physically react to certain behaviors.

I guess I am a more aggressive person. Even though I admire Gandhi for what he did and his strength of character, I have never believe in non violence.

I was watching this comedian yesterday and he said you’ll change your mind about fighting after you’ve seen it.

I say, only if you’re an only child or you had a sibling who wouldn’t fight you. Or parents who wouldn’t let you fight.

I don’t believe violence is always the answer. But as a Christian I notice the Bible has no problem endorsing it when the situation calls for it. It also condemns attacking innocent people and shedding blood when it is unnecessary.

The Bible is pretty hard on women who refuse to try to get help if someone tries to rape them. In the Old Testament, if you were raped in town and did not scream, you were considered guilty of sexual sin. If you were out in the country, you were off the hook because if you did scream no one heard you.

Now I know that someone can be raped and scream and no one might help them, the Bible knows that too. The people were always supposed to come before God and the priest so those fine details could be sorted out. But the Biblical principle is clear. If you let someone violate you, you share the responsibility.

There’s many reasons a woman might not be able to scream or do anything, but the message is if she could resist, she should. And if you can defend yourself, clearly that’s your job.

I think it’s a big problem to tell kids all violence is wrong and unjustified. If a parent thinks they can prevent their kids form doing violence, if the kid has a mind to, they are delusional. And if they think their children will be safe without some ability to defend themselves, in this day and age, that’s getting to be delusional also

Boys especially, but girls also, they will use force. If you deny that’s part of the way the world works, you’re living in a bubble.

Violence is not something to use all the time. The Bible also makes it clear that violence in war is acceptable because it it necessary. Good men don’t start wars, but if evil men do so, it would be evil to surrender to them without a fight.

That’s the stance on it, if you do not resist evil when it threatens anyone but you, you are part of the problem. We are told not to resist an evil man when he abuses us (within the correct context) and to turn the other cheek. But that is when only ourselves are at risk. Or a group of people who share our convictions and will accept the same fate.

Jesus himself resisted evil and evil men, but not through doing evil or even violence. he resisted them in words, and deeds that were contrary to what they taught.

Basically the rule is: do what is right and merciful, and if it’s in line with the law of tha land, then submit to that law. If doing right becomes illegal, you still have to do it.

My encounter today didn’t end up being threatening, and I hope I don’t have to go through that. And there’s a time and a place to resist, and a time and a place to not. But I see no shame is having to knowledge and ability to defend myself to the best of my strength. Beyond that, there’s not much I can do.

It’s sad to me that women have to consider this no matter where they go. And that men have to be so careful how they act, even if they have the best of intentions, women are never certain at first. I don’t like that the world is like this, but I have to be ready for it.

Until next time–Natasha. download