Never Again

So my supervisor and I were having a casual conversation today, when I mentioned that both my brother and my friend had considered getting me a politically-themed birthday card. (My brother did, actually, get me a card with a photo of Obama with the Justin Bieber hairdo.) She mentioned to me that I’m probably the most outspoken person she knows about political beliefs, which was at once surprising and not. I do often talk about my views on the issues, but for some reason, hearing someone say that I’m very open about what I believe made me feel a little vulnerable and insecure for a second.

It is often heard that you don’t discuss religion or politics, for there is never an end and the arguments are nothing if not circular. Perhaps that’s true, but I continue to do so nonetheless.

I started to think about what might be the reason that I find it important to express myself, other than the obvious desire to be heard (and the First Amendment, no doubt).

This is how I said it to my supervisor:

I spent most of my childhood and teen years studying about the persecution of Jews and others throughout history — from the Biblical times to Ancient Rome, to the Hellenistic period, the Ottoman Empire, The Crusades, The Inquisition, Stalin’s reign, and most recently but not least significantly, The Holocaust.

What I took away from these teachings was the resilience and perseverance of the human race. I learned about the power of standing up against intolerance and hatred, and the gravity of the consequence if it goes unchecked.

I can’t tell you how many Holocaust survivors I have met over the years. Many of them have remained silent about what they endured, and who can blame them for all of the trauma and horror they witnessed. Many have also become outspoken for the plight of innocent groups of people. They told us stories in such graphic detail that I couldn’t imagine how they were still standing. Stories of their parents being gassed, their siblings being murdered, and their unimaginable escape from lock-down concentration camps.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dachkammer/314063674/The mantra of “Never Again” has echoed through these eras and stories, and it plays through my head on loop. Never again should we sit idly by while others are being mistreated, persecuted, or denied rights. We know what happens, and old patterns die hard.

(Side note: Check out the famous poem “First they came…”  attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller on this very theme.)

(Another Side note: this theme is portrayed very nicely throughout the X-Men movies, as mutants fight for the right to exist. The most recent movie also does a great job highlighting the “Never Again” mantra. I’m not sure where I  fall between Professor X and Magneto — probably somewhere in between.)

That is why I stand up, and voice up against what I perceive to be injustice.

In the modern day political situation, I believe we’ve seen the extremes of both Capitalism and Communism, and a balance must be sought after — one where social causes and rights of citizens are just as secure as our borders and our wallets.

I may not always be right, and yes, some may call me a dreamer, but my intentions are pure, and no, I’m not the only one.

Sobering

Is it just me or is the shock and exhilaration of Bin Laden’s demise starting to wear off? We’ve waited so long for justice, and when it happened, we rightfully celebrated. But then I’ve kept going back to that image of people dancing after 9/11 and burning the U.S. flag (although I just found according to Snopes.com, it was false footaging), and comparing that to last night’s jubilant crowds outside of the White House and at Ground Zero.

Source: AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

Imagine it from their point of view — not that I’d ever, ever stand up for terrorists — Bin Laden was a mastermind, evil, horrific man who caused so much despicable cruelty; but, those across the world may look at our celebration of Bin Laden’s death with similar horror and disgust. Imagine an innocent young child, growing up in the Middle East with only these images to represent the entire American nation.  My brother was only five when 9/11 happened, and at the time we lived 25 miles away from Ground Zero – we watched the chaos from our living rooms – on TV and through our windows. It would have been quite easy to translate those images into a dominant story — all Muslims are this way; they are all out to get us. We didn’t let that happen, of course, but imagine how it could.

Continue reading

Snapshot of History in the Making: Bin Laden Captured & Killed

Tonight is going to be one of those “I remember exactly where I was” types of nights. My boyfriend and I went out for Mexican food after a long day of homeworking; we were eating some yummy burritos  when I got a voicemail from my dad. As soon as I called back, he asked if I was watching TV, that Bin Laden was captured! And killed! And in US’s custody! Needless to say, we rushed home and turned on the tube to share in the historical unfolding.

Remember cutting out the front page of newspapers when something big was going on? Well, in that spirit, I “cut” snippets of a whole host of websites’ front pages – check out the national shock & celebration of a long awaited justice.

(c) Huffington Post

(c) CNN

(c) The Washington Post

(c) The New York Times

(c) Fox News

(c) MSNBC

I’ve watched President Obama’s statement twice now, and I’m glued to the screen watching celebrations outside of The White House and at Ground Zero. The feeling certainly harkens back to those months and months we spent watching news channels covering 9/11. It’s a closure, in a way, of a wound we’ve felt as a nation for almost a decade. The pain will always be there, and the scar burns as we remember the deaths of our people. But tonight, we celebrate their lives and that just has prevailed.

I’d like to extend my pride and sincere gratitude to our troops and special forces for bringing this to fruition, and to our President Obama for making Bin Laden’s capture one of his top priorities, and for delivering on that promise.

Where were you when you found out that justice had been served?

P.S. I made these screen grabs way before The Huffington Post - thieves! :P



Picturing Tornadoes

It’s hard for me to comprehend the massive scale of the wreckage and devastation of the tornadoes in the past week. Living in Arizona, tragedies like this one, and the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti seem so surreal, and I feel nothing but disconnected. I’m glad there’s ample coverage, though, and I hope people who can spare some money will donate to help rebuild.  My thoughts are with the victims and survivors.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Angela Lewis

When I saw these pictures, they really touched my heart. As you may have noticed from my previous post, I’ve been quite preoccupied with a bunch of adorable kittens for the past few weeks. Yesterday, my brother and I had to take one of the mamas and her babies and surrender them to the Humane Society because some of our neighbors were getting real angry. We still have a bunch of the kittens, though, and I just saw one eating dry food today – hooray, a good home is on the horizon! In the above photo, a man named Andy Page got some happy news too when he found his feline friend safe and sound amid his demolished home in Georgia.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Angela Lewis

Click here for more shocking, inspiring, and touching photos. 

If you can, please donate to The Red Cross through the link below: