Thanks To Vegas

I spent this morning praying the same thing over and over: Lord, what do I do?

In the wake of yet another confusing, terrifying, heart shattering tragedy, I’m left empty-handed and full-hearted, longing to know how to make a difference for those who are grieving, even as I grieve.

I log into Facebook to see the instant politicization of these lost lives.

Gun control! One side chants.

Anything can be a weapon! The other responds.

I am tempted to respond. Tempted to take my stance. Tempted to try and solve the problem, yet again.

I’m a student of the human mind & the human system. These attacks leave me desperate to understand. Desperate to fix it. Desperate to see us all come to a common place of sorrow & compassion.

Instead I see people tearing at each other, condemning each other. I see politicians using these events as a platform. I see justifications and racist media representations of the aggressor & exploitation of the victims. I see traumatic videos shared callously with empty, emoji ridden captions.

I want to throw up & scream & cry & hold the hand of Jesus.

So today, I prayed. & I got an answer.

I am fighting a battle that’s already been won. I’m fighting against a world that’s already so broken only One can fix it, & He already has.. the time just hasn’t come to see it fulfilled yet.

I’ve struggled with feeling like my faith is a cop-out. I fear being seen as complacent, I fear losing my sense & drive for justice. So I share information & reminders, I write about my convictions, & I hope my words don’t fall on deaf ears. But in the end, I can’t change anyone. I can’t prevent mass shootings. I can’t prevent people driving others down. I can’t prevent people being stabbed. I can’t prevent rape. I can’t prevent poverty. I can’t prevent police brutality. Yet, I have poured my energy into attempting to fix these things, so much so that I’ve had none left to pour into doing the most important thing there is: loving others.

It was seeing so many people searching for their family member or friend that made me realize I never know if I’ll be the last unfriendly face someone sees. I have no control over the last moments of someone’s life — but I have control over the moments I leave in someone’s life. What if I’m the angry person honking my horn at someone on the freeway because they didn’t merge fast enough and they are hit by a drunk driver on their way home? What if I’m the irritated customer rushing my cashier who is killed by her abusive boyfriend when she gets home late from her shift? What if I’m the sour face in the waiting room before the other patient passes away from surgery complications?

These people will never care about my social media campaigns for safe driving, for domestic violence advocacy, for better health care. But in those small moments, they’ll care that I didn’t take the same amount of time to share a meme as to make an effort to look at the bigger picture and let go of my own frustrations and give grace. Give love.

Thanks to Vegas, I’m done with politics. I’m done with spending my energy trying to convince others to change. I’m done trying to fix a world that’s out of my control.

I’m just going to love hard. Im going to smile and encourage my cashier, the stranger next to me in the produce aisle, the lady sitting next to me at the doctor’s office. I’m going to let go of my need to be everywhere doing everything at once & breathe.

We’ve been told to live like every moment is our last.

But what if we lived like every moment is the last for those around us?

Thanks to Vegas, I’m going to try.

xoxo, B

Thoughts Following the 2016 Presidential Election

Thoughts Following the 2016 Presidential Election - My Alabaster Heart

Dear, dear friends.

This isn’t it. This isn’t the end.

I see so many of you hurting and scared, and I know I will never be able to fully understand how you’re feeling because I am a white, middle class, heterosexual, married citizen. But I will listen. I will hear you and I will stand with you. Your hurt is my hurt because I love you.
I am disgusted by the lack of empathy from people calling you out for your fears. After all, we’ve never had to question our right to marriage. We’ve never had to fear retaliation for representing our religion. We’ve never had to stand by as people who historically have killed and violated minorities hold public gatherings. I can’t fathom what that’s like, even though I’m trying. But your fear is my fear because I love you.

I hear you calling out Trump supporters. I hear you denying him as your president. I hear you asking why you didn’t matter to those who voted for him as one of the lesser evils.

Thoughts Following the 2016 Presidential Election - My Alabaster Heart

I have stayed mostly quiet on the election over the last couple of months. It’s no secret that I passionately supported Bernie Sanders, and I think he would have made a great president. I am not a democrat, I am not a republican, I fall somewhere along the lines of a conservative libertarian. After Bernie lost the primaries, I struggled to decide how to cast my vote. I do not agree with a lot of policies and practices from both parties. I read and read and read and researched and I battled my conscience over whether to even vote at all. I didn’t know what I was going to do until I cast my ballot and I won’t say who was on it, but I can tell you that I cried over it. Because I knew, no matter who won, the outcome would be horrendous.

The thing is: it’s not Trump. He’s not the problem and he never was. He’s a convenient straw man, a statue erected to represent the most common ideals of an underlying ideology.

Hillary was only a band-aid. If she had won, we would have seen another 4-8 years of a democratic façade — she was a diplomat, I’ll give her that, and she did work with Bernie to make some of her platforms much more palatable. But she is still corrupt. She wouldn’t have fixed a broken system, she would only have kept us in a false sense of security until the next election.

The votes for Trump came from people with all kinds of reasons. They came from people who voted for a republican platform. They came from people with strong capitalist ideals. They came from people who believed that he will trigger change. They came from people who didn’t want a career politician. And yes, in some cases, they came from people who were afraid.

As hard as it has been for me to digest this outcome (despite my certainty that Hillary would win, I would have struggled there too) I am realizing that none of this was ever about a Trump presidency. Whether or not he became president, the fears and hatred that has been such a common theme in his campaign and seen in many of his supporters, would have still been present in those people. The thing is, Trump didn’t create monsters. He revealed them.

This is NOT to say that anyone who voted for Trump is a monster, I don’t believe that, and no one will convince me otherwise. But we have to acknowledge, on every side of the political spectrum, that this is a fact. As a radical, Trump encouraged the vocality of other radicals, but it’s important that we realize that these radicals were always there. The neo-nazis, the KKK, the racist neighbors, the sexist bosses, they were never gone, they were simply quieter.

While it is painful to see the words being said, these are not new words. These are not new thoughts. We are not fighting against new ideas. Hate has always, and will always, exist.

Thoughts Following the 2016 Presidential Election - My Alabaster Heart

The question of course is, what do we do?

We keep fighting. I have seen you, my brave friends, take your stand. I have seen your warnings against those who would infringe on your rights. This is what we do. I am not going to sit back and accept the racist, sexist, and homophobic conversations happening around me. I will continue to speak out on my beliefs and I will continue to stand with marginalized people.
What I can’t do, is hate the people who exercised their right to vote according to their own beliefs and fears, because I cannot ask of others what I am not willing to do myself. I have already been the target of hateful words because of my skin color and my faith thanks to repercussions from this election, and while it isn’t the first or last time that will happen, it was somehow worse this time: perhaps because I expected to see sadness and anger, but not so much hate.

I do not battle against other people. I battle against ignorance, against fear, against immaturity, against oppression, against hate, and against the ideas and practices that encourage all of the above.
It will take time. It will take effort. It will take energy.

But this isn’t the end, your fight is my fight because I love you.

xoxo, B

What A Netflix Movie Taught Me About My Participation In Rape Culture

Dear reader,

The following post contains triggers regarding rape and sexual abuse. The content may not be appropriate for someone who is a survivor of sexual assault. Please take care of yourself.

xoxo

The other night my husband and I did what so many couples do when they’re bored on a quiet night and selected a movie off of the thriller list on Netflix.

We chose “Return To Sender”, starring Rosamund Pike of “Gone Girl” fame. The synopsis stated that it was the story of a nurse who was raped and develops a relationship with her rapist while he is in prison. Since both my husband and I are huge fans of Gone Girl (way to bring it back, Ben Affleck) we thought it would be a well made thriller.

Unfortunately, the movie itself was terrible with mediocre acting, huge plot holes, and empty subplots. However, despite the lackluster storyline, the film did raise awareness to how I am a subconscious participant in rape culture.

The beginning plot is this: Miranda, the nurse, has plans for a blind date. She has never met or even seen a photo of this date, who is a friend of one of her coworkers. The plan is for him to come to her home to pick her up for their date.

The day of the date arrives, Miranda arrives home after picking up her dry cleaning to find a man on her porch. As is reasonable, she assumes he is her date (why else would he be on her porch?) and after a little awkwardness, she invites him into her home. As they converse, it is very obvious that Miranda is uncomfortable with the situation, and finally asks the man (William) to leave. It is revealed that he is not her date (duh, saw that one coming) and that he is actually her stalker. He subsequently locks her front door and rapes her.

As this is unfolding, I am sitting there commenting on the situation to my husband.

“Well that’s a surprise. Why on earth did she let a strange man into her home?”

“She’s a woman who lives alone, why doesn’t she have a gun or at least a dog?”

“Honestly though, what was she thinking inviting him in?”

In a way, I think that my response was initially a shield for my own emotional well-being. I was raped by someone I knew and I was in a sexually abusive relationship for over a year when I was in high school. It is easier at times to cope with our own fears by putting someone we identify with in a position of blame. If we can attribute a responsibility to that person, it means the experience we had has some kind of meaning, some kind of reason. It wasn’t some senseless, brutal act that was forced upon us.

Which is exactly what rape is.

As soon as I became aware of the thoughts I was having about the rape scene, I felt a little stunned. After all, one of the biggest components of rape culture is victim blaming. But for some reason, this kind of victim blaming felt different.

After all, when we hear someone who was raped being blamed for what they were wearing, it’s easy to say “Oh come on, women shouldn’t be expected to cover their whole bodies to escape rape.”

But we are conditioned to believe it logical to say, “Well it’s common sense to not let a strange man into your home!”

But is it common sense? Is it really something that is so obvious that it negates the fact that a man abused his power and took advantage of a woman just because she let him in her home? Or have we women just been conditioned to believe that it is always our fault. That we allow rape to happen to us. When did it become common sense to expect a man to rape you if you let him in your home? When did we stop fighting to have a voice that says RAPE IS ALWAYS WRONG.

As a mother to a daughter, this breaks my heart. I will never have to teach my son (if I have one) the same things I have to teach my daughter: how to survive in a world that insists on blaming victims for the actions of their oppressors.

How do you teach someone to be safe at the same time you teach them it is not their fault if someone hurts them?

How do we teach our daughters that it is never their fault if they are harmed, regardless of actions or inactions?

Part of rape culture is the fact that predators know their prey are taught to fear them. Men who are going to rape know that they have a chance as soon as a woman lets her guard down. Maybe it’s time that we spend more time teaching men how NOT to be predators instead of teaching women how not to be prey?

As I was made aware by watching Return To Sender, I still have a lot of reconditioning to do myself before I can have any real knowledge on how to combat the rape epidemic. 

I continue to hope that as more people become aware of the reality of living in a rape culture, that more men will learn that we are done expecting them to be animals and we are learning to respect ourselves and expecting men to do the same.

xoxo

xoxo, B