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As a Muslim woman, the kidnap in Nigeria has shaken my faith

Media Diversified

by Huma Munshi

As a Muslim woman, I have some things in common with atheists. I wonder where God is when people are being murdered and brutalised. Where is God when theyoung girlsin Nigeria were kidnapped? Where is he when young people all over the world are being abused? The vulnerable being exploited shakes my faith to the core.

The case of the kidnapped Nigerian young girls is gut-churning horror played out in real-time on rolling twenty-four hour news scenes. They have been taken by the militant group Boko Haram who have threatened to sell these girls into slavery. It makes me wonder (for the umpteenth time) how it is possible to misunderstand the meaning of being Muslim and use it to legitimise the oppression of the most vulnerable.

It has got me thinking about faith and being a Muslim feminist, something I alluded tolast week.

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A Heated Debate

I am opposed to gun control.

Sure I have my paranoid reasons, the idea that I am an American and am entitled to own any weapon I want, and you could probably call me a conspiracy theorist. But my opposition to gun control is so much more than just my own paranoid reasoning. I am opposed because I know something that a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge, the problem is our society has a fundamental flaw. This flaw is so big, so encompassing that mere legislation is not going to change a damn thing.

Sure there is the circling philosophy that we should spend equal parts money on mental health as we do on gun control. I don’t really think this is going to work either. Why? Besides there not really being money for the caregivers in the mental health industry, adding money doesn’t make people who don’t care suddenly care. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve it, it just means that it consumes more money.

For the record, I only own one gun. A shot gun. It holds eight rounds and when I fire it it moves my body about 3-4 feet backwards. It is loaded, I keep it that way because if someone is breaking into my house I want it ready to fire. That said, I’ve had friends walk in at 3 in the morning and I did not shoot them. I have a healthy understanding of how guns work and I have a pretty healthy fear of the weapon.

My partner has a hand gun. When the safety is off it looks like it has horns. He also has his conceal and carry. When he got his gun and permit to carry I spent a lot of time thinking about which hand gun I might like and if I would actually carry. At that time I was running about 6 miles a day and if you have ever been a runner you know that your daily run is your weakest time of day. I seriously considered it.

I decided I do not want to carry a gun on my person. In my personal opinion, when I am in public it is the public who will decide my fate. Seattle is not known for good Samaritan-ship. A girl gets beaten up in our bus tunnel while two guards watch. People could be dying in the street and most will advert their gaze. Hell, the cops here had the DOJ come in to examine their excessive use of force complaints. But even so, if I am being mugged and no one steps in despite my cries, then that is what happens. I will carry my pepper spray, I will carry my stun gun, but I won’t carry a gun.

What is the difference between the confidence I have to fire a shot gun in the home to protect my life and carrying a gun to protect my life on the street? 

I am a good shot, but I am not so comfortable firing guns. In fact every time I go to an indoor range it takes a lot of energy for me to not cry. If you have never been in an indoor firing range then you might not understand that. Something about the concussion rebounding into my chest, the ringing in my ears even though I have proper ear and eye protection, the bouncing back of warm expelled shells. I hate it. I am way more comfortable outside. That being said I want an AK. I would get one and probably not shoot it for 3 years. So what? Its a cool ass gun, and I like guns.

So why will I defend my home but not myself in public?

My home is the most personal violation that there is. If someone comes into my home with the intention to steal, a single rack of my shot gun will send them running. If they come to hurt me and my family, in my own home, I will not hesitate.  On the street, in public, people need to be responsible for stopping crime. Sometimes just calling the cops works. Or saying something, standing up for the weak. Step in and stop the crime at your own personal risk. If someone who does carry steps in, then I will be grateful. But I am not meant to be a protector of the people in that way. Not even a protector of myself.

Every responsible gun owner has felt the power that wielding a gun offers. Whether or not the owner is a violent person or wouldn’t harm a fly, what extraordinary circumstances could occur in a day that would require him or her to discharge a weapon in public? Each bullet represents a life that could be taken. That is not a responsibility for me. But for some people it is and I respect that.

Back to why gun control won’t work.

Number one, banning assault rifles doesn’t stop people from using other times of guns for crimes. And limiting magazine capacity doesn’t stop someone from filling a back pack with multiple magazines pre-loaded. (Virginia Tech for example)

Number two, our society is fundamentally flawed. Its not that mental health services don’t have enough money, though they definitely don’t. The problem is our society isolates us from one another. Have you analyzed the six 30 second commercials that happen during your favorite show? What are the themes you see? Physical health to look like celebrities, financial services to help you obtain more goods to improve yourself worth, or advertisements for new cars or unnecessary kitchen gadgets. All of them promoting the ideal that you are alone and you need to achieve a certain level of success to have people regard you as a worthwhile human being.

If for some reason you don’t fit into the mold of working 50 hours a week and going to school full time to climb the corporate ladder you simply don’t deserve to be regarded as a member of the community. And our communities are so often nicer to outsiders than they are to their members.

Our society believes personal success is the most important thing. Your failures are your own and don’t you dare ask for help. We teach isolation as a fundamental moray. This is why people go CRAZY and kill people. Don’t believe me? China has a country of about 3 billion and they have this phenomenon. They have middle aged men go on psycho rampages where they attack weaker members of society with knives, axes or other objects. The official cause of this is that they have a break with reality because of the intense pace of social change.

Ok, sure. That is just China, they’re communists, who wants to listen to them?

With a population as big as the Chinese I think we could learn a thing or two from them.

Social pressures, extraordinary circumstances that influence an ordinary human beings and creates mass murderers.

Gun control doesn’t change the social isolation that our society so dearly values. Not until we fundamentally reject the isolation and replace it with deep, sincere love and acceptance for all members of our society will we end mass murders. Sure, I cannot prove that. But the only reason I cannot prove it is because our society fears that change.

What will we be as a people if we provide for every single person’s well being from the physical to the mental to the emotion?

What sort of place will America be if we stopped promoting success at any expense?

How can we define ourselves if we have to abandon our old habits for this new philosophy?

I am opposed to gun control because it ignores the real problem. We don’t care enough about others.

Stoners Against Initiative 502, Part 1

I started blogging just shy of a year ago. I was looking for a place to both keep a public journal of my growth as a human as well as publish writings on political issues that were important to me. The first draft I have saved under another blog is “Legalization, a different perspective.” It was supposed to be about why I, as a pot head, did not want marijuana to be legal. No matter how many times it was written, rewritten, edited or revised, I could not make it a cohesive argument. Partially due to not really having starting point that made sense and partially because I am not the strongest writer.

This week (a month ago) I was inspired to start the article again thanks to Washington’s Initiative 502. This initiative is regarding the legalization of marijuana, the establishing of state run dispensaries and the altering of existing laws regarding marijuana. I have read through this initiative and am exceptionally concerned for the future of marijuana in this state.

The root of my concern is people who vote on topics without any direct interest and understanding of the legislation at hand. Now normally this is a problem because people vote yes or no to a tax that was going to provide something desirable or undesirable for a community based upon their judgement at the polls. Say the initiative is to put a toll on a road to fund highway construction. The legislation could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how it is written, and the only way to know is to read or scan the legislation and read balanced interpretations of long term effects. And whether it gets passed or not depends on how many people educated themselves v how many people made up their mind on the spot.

Now times that by stoner.

Pot heads are the worst people to talk to about legalization. When I started smoking at 18 – yes I waited until I was 18 because I didn’t want to have my parents in any way held responsible for my decision/have to move into foster care in the event I was caught – I was all about legalization. Totally an irresponsible stoner, this shit should be legal, it’s not even harmful, it’s medicine ect ect ect. Then around the age of 20 something happened.I became aware of the corporate influence in tobacco, in genetically modified crops, in pharmaceutics, in drug regulation, in privatized prison, and it worried me.

Right now the way our system is set up as a nation is to make profit keeping marijuana illegal. However, marijuana is a profitable drug with endless uses. If done right, the profit of marijuana can be kept out of the greedy hands of the state or the corporate world without carrying a jail sentence. If not done right the profit of marijuana can be snatched up in taxes and regulations, and the medicinal value of it can be bastardized, modified genetically, chemically altered and ultimately destroyed. That pot heads by and large refuse to acknowledge this potential reality, this is why I am nervous for the future of marijuana in Washington.

People who just want to be able to buy marijuana either pre-rolled or prepackaged 8ths have some harsh realities a head if they vote yes on Initiative 502. First, there is the fact that it is a state monopoly. Any marijuana growing, processing or selling is ONLY legal if it is through the state. If you buy your pot from the hippy down the street you are both in violation of state law and may be arrested and convicted. They think the current decriminalized status will protect them after it’s legal. NOT NECESSARILY. It is very likely that as the state will have a profit incentive in ending black market marijuana trafficking. That means it could more frequently carry a fine and likely some jail time.

Next is the reality that there will be a strict DUI law in place. I say strict because the limits are currently debatable as scientifically valid but are written in stone. The application of testing got a little more skewed, something I am sure will benefit DUI attorneys (and relatively anticipated based on the number of DUI attorney fliers being handed out at this year’s Hempfest.) But regardless of if the legal limit for “adults” is scientifically questionable, the limit for minors is zero. Yep zero tolerance for all minors. A minor who has been around secondhand marijuana smoke may test above the 0.0 ng/ml limit and have a DUI for years. Imagine the debt a youth could incur trying to beat a bogus DUI charge, right at the beginning of his life.

Oh that’s right. The age of legal marijuana consumption will be 21. Poor unfortunate souls trapped between 18 and 21 will have one more limit placed on them to alienate them even more from having a social life that doesn’t involve their parents.

My favorite stipulation in this law is the one that will smack all the impulse voters in the face. The TAX on marijuana. Just like the liquor tax, the marijuana tax will start at the growers, 25% to transfer the weed to the processors. The processors, the people who trim it or turn it into edibles, will incur a 25% tax to get their products to the retailer. The retailer will then have another 25% tax placed on the product. Then the lowly customer must now pay sales tax. All that tax compounded, so much cash for the state. And don’t forget all the fees if someone wants to apply to be a grower, a processor or a retailer. Congratulations impulse voter, you just increased the cost of getting high, all because it was more important to have it legal RIGHT NOW.

Part 2 of this will focus a little more on supporting my argument and all that other stuff that actually makes good, cited and thought out writings. I hope to ultimately convince people that we need to protect our marijuana rights for the better interest of EVERYONE. In the mean time here is the link to the full text of Initiative 502.

Why Shouldn’t Homosexuals Marry?

I was sitting down last night going over the house hold bills, trying to figure out which over due statement I should throw money at next. As I cycled through the stages of acceptance for each bill I began to ponder the balance of what goes in whose name. This bill is solely mine while this one we share is in his name and this other is in my name, but everything gets paid through my accounts.

That made me wonder about what that does for my credit report. Does paying the light bill in his name using my account qualify as valid credit if we want to switch the light bill into my name. Not that we need to, I was just wondering because all growing up, adults constantly told me to never let a man have everything in his name. You know how small towns are, you get married in your twenties, have a child, get divorced, then spend the rest of your life in terrible cereal monogamous relationships that destroy your credit.

It fairly obvious that I didn’t grow up with a healthy view of marriage or long term relationships. My current is the longest I’ve had so far, but I definitely do not want to get married. At most, if the time is right and we have been together long enough, it might be convenient to file our taxes together. That led to thoughts about other friends of mine who are in long term, committed relationships whose lives would be made better by joint finances. So it would seem domestic partnership could be a cool option for us all. All the financial perks of marriage without being the same thing as marriage.

Since 2009 Washington state has granted domestic partnerships the same rights as marriage “…for all purposes under state law, state registered domestic partners shall be treated the same as married spouses and that provisions of the act shall be liberally construed to achieve equal treatment, to the extent not in  conflict with federal law.” (Washington State, as of February, adopted same-sex marriage, but as that is likely to be out voted this November, for the sake of argument, lets stick with the status quo.)

What an awesome solution. Domestic partnership isn’t marriage in the traditional sense of two people putting their lives together, its just putting your finances together according to the state and country. Simple.

Not so much.

The legal definition of a domestic partnership in Washington is “same-sex couples over the age of 18 and heterosexual couples in which one partner is over the age of 62 qualify for a domestic partnership. Eligible couples must also share a common residence. They cannot be closely related, married, or in a domestic partnership with another person.” Because we are all heterosexuals under 62, our only financial option is marriage.

But we don’t want to get married.

Now imagine that in reverse. Two people in love, prepared to take the plunge in to the world of the wed, before their friends, family and great spirit, can only file taxes together. What an insult.

Despite how I view marriage in the modern age, there is still something special about it that I respect. Marriage is the union of two souls in love for better for worse. Whatever the couple’s personal religious identities, marriage is the thing that brings two mortals closest to that divinity. It is this reason that marriage is considered sacred. It is why it *is* sacred. When two people wed, they are acknowledging the height of their beliefs through their union.

Imagine, heterosexual readers, that you found that person with whom you feel that you could enter into that sacred union. No imagine that you were only allowed to buy a few investments together and file your taxes together, that this sacred union was off limits to you. Would you not feel a sorrow in your soul? Would filing your taxes together really unite your souls before your friends, family and your great spirit? Do you think you could really experience that level of love in a domestic partnership?

So why do so many people say “I think gays should have all the rights of marriage, but that it just shouldn’t be called marriage”? Who are these people who decide on other people’s happiness?

Sure there are the ultra religious ass holes who forget that their faith is about good will towards man, helping the poor, orphaned and widowed, and loving their neighbors. Then there is a bigger group of people who barely identify with a religion that also try to block other people’s happiness. These people claim that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and make long winded arguments about how unnatural it is, how confusing it is for children, suicide rates, gays getting divorced, ect. All of these arguments based off of stereotypes and misinformation.

It is these people say “domestic partnership”  and suddenly there is a “solution” to gay rights. But domestic partnership is not a solution to homosexuals who want to get married. Nor is it a solution for herterosexuals who don’t want to get married. Domestic partnership does not equal marriage, it never will. Stop insulting people who love each other in such a demeaning way and stand up for equal rights. Love knows no bounds, and it is time that we, as a country, as people, recognize that.

It’s Rude to Talk About Religion…

In the movie “Big Fish” the father, who will talk about absolutely anything, sits down for dinner and tells his daughter in law that religion is the one thing he won’t speak on. “It’s rude to talk about religion, you never know who you are going to offend.”

But I am an offensive person by nature and I have been offended recently about the religious atmosphere of the world. The atmosphere that surrounds politics and war, and the religious atmosphere that surrounds my interactions with people daily. While I would normally like to get into why organized religion has been sullying the political atmosphere and promoting ignorance among other atrocities (see war on women, abortion, same sex marriage, international prayer day, ect.) it is rather unnecessary as the evidence is clear. Instead I want to talk about Atheism.

Not the Atheism that leaves people to their beliefs, nor the Atheism that contributes to dialog regarding respecting religion while maintaining a government that benefits everyone, nor the Atheist that likes a good debate.  The Atheism I am talking about it the super militant Atheism that berrates and belittles any person of faith regardless if they follow an organized religion or have a personal faith.

These people, these militant Atheists, usually grew up in a Christian household and were often told they were going to hell for whatever reason, usually by a parent or a grandparent. Sometimes they were bullied for being different by the Christian sames. But no matter their motivations for becoming Atheists, these people are completely intollerant and do nothing to promote a realistic separation of church and state. In fact they do nothing to promote anything good.

You will find these Atheists on various community boards on Facebook, Tumblr, Atheist websites or where ever else they can talk about religion. They completely belittle people of faith, mock modern religion and every offensive thing that could be said is employed with no respect to anyone except fellow militant Atheists. Their talks about religion are full of disdain, often calling anyone who believes in a god idiots, delusional, hypocrites, foolish, sheeple ect. Brandishing the arguments of Christopher Hitchens as their own they focus on the negative aspects of everything to do with religion. They claim that they are trying to liberate the world of the mass delusion of religion but they only thing they do is create tension and division on what could otherwise be a rational discussion board.

Oh and the arguments. No better than the arguments of a fundamentalist of any other religion. Believing their “logic” to be superior, they are no more than another religious zealot on a community board. Talking to these militant internet Atheists is just as annoying as talking to a militant internet Christian or Muslim trying to “convert souls.” Anyone who is perhaps politically aligned with the ideas of separation of church and state that also believes in a higher power is lumped in with the Westboro Baptist Church.

To these people I say, just as I would say to a bible tumper, it is rude to talk about religion. Especially in the way you go about it. Do you really expect a religious person to even listen to what you have to say when you call their god a “fictional character” and attack their character as delusional. Leave the religious discussions to the real Atheists and Spiritualists who can have proper discussions with respect to all participants rather than anecdotes and religious slurs.

I should confess now that I do believe in a higher power. I do not attend a church, I do not vote based on a politician’s faith or his political stances that align with a certain religion’s current fad. I do not attempt to convert others to what I believe, mostly because my opinion on the matter changes frequently and I despise hypocrisy (yet I can be a hypocrite at times.) I don’t go out on the street and talk about god, nor are my acts of compassion for my fellow man based on the fear of punishment or hopes of reward. I don’t force my morals on anyone and vehemently defend the right of every person to say and do as he chooses so long as it does not overly interfere with the lives or health of others.

As a human being, this should be the standard, not the exception. I definitely believe that organized religions have been a massive malevolent force in the world for the written history of man. That much is pretty much undeniable. But when you berate the followers or believers of gods, you are not helping, you are hurting.There is an old saying, you will catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. So please, militant Atheists, the ones who fill internet chat rooms with rage and disrespect, consider this: you are a human being no better than any other on the planet, you are spreading hate in a manner no different than the modern hating religious person and you are a bore to the humans, Atheist or Spiritual, who are trying to make a real, measurable, beneficial change in the world.


Not Sure What to Call This

Apathy is our greatest enemy as humans. Here in America it has been bred into our society. It has taken over a century to create a population that consumes as much as we do without a second thought of how our blessings came to be. Do not let apathy over take your hearts. And do not let your souls be corrupted with a sense of superiority, because when the pendulum swings back the world will have no empathy for us.

To all humans, defend yourselves but do not make war. Take what you need to survive and leave the rest for those who come after you. Share your resources with your fellow man, but do not allow business to steal from you what belongs to all men. And always stand together when under attack.

Soldiers, do not allow your orders to override your moral judgment and good conscious. Protect all women and children who cross your path. All women and children regardless of race, country or heritage. One day, somewhere, a soldier will meet your family too.

Pray for your enemies, that they be healthy and well. Pray for peace and understanding, and that love fill your heart.

Do not trust the words of men of power. A man who promises peace through war is selling you lies. Fear will do more harm to your heart than an evil man will do to your body.


We live in the twenty first century. Women can vote, work, have houses and bank accounts. Women are capable of many feats including achieving political office and titles such as CEO and President of major companies. Women can join the military or choose never to marry. The idea that in our modern society reproductive health care can be denied to women is absurd and the debate stops here.

First, the religious bull shit. Conservative, Christian Identified Republicans, and a few other fundamentalists say that women can be denied access to certain types of health care because of the body parts represented. In short the coverage denied could range from an annual mammogram to an abortion because they disagree with the treatment. Under that guise could you imagine working for a Jehovah’s Witness, or worse, a faith healer? The ideals of one religion are not necessarily the ideals of all its members. Nor are the ideals of an employer the ideals of his employees. Therefore no one type of healthcare can be denied, to anyone, for any reason.

Second, the chauvinist bull shit. Enough with the “women should be seen and not heard,” and the “only someone having a lot of sex would need birth control” talk. All of it. The problem here isn’t that this opinion is wrong, its just that it is unpopular without the lofty morals that the religious flaunt. It is almost as unpopular as the feminist arguments, except the sex is way more boring.

Third, the tax payer money bull shit. I don’t like my tax dollars being spent on war. I don’t like my tax payer money being spent to arrest Americans protesting. I don’t want drug addicts to live off the welfare system, draining resources from American who need it. I don’t like government subsidies for Walmart stores and paying more taxes while the rich pay less. If I can deal with a percentage of my tax payer money going to things I don’t like, you can deal with ensuring every person gets adequate health care.

Debate over.

Good Luck With That: Battling Corporate Corruption and American Apathy

I’ve had a break with the world.

It is no secret, despite the best efforts of countless corporate and governmental think tanks, that the world, our food, our water, our air, politics and religion are corrupted at their core. It is no secret that the people of planet Earth have been lied to and forced into slavery under the guise of freedom. It is no secret that globalization is destroying the world.

In short, our water is being poisoned, taken from us, purified and sold back to us for a nominal fee. Our food is toxic and the leading cause of illness in the developed world, while starvation and simple diseases kill the developing world. The air is polluted. Children are brainwashed rather than educated. Money talks for the people that control us and eludes the common man. Political and economic systems globally are in persistent peril. Protests and awareness of these issues is at an all time high.

Yet we the people are helpless to stop it. During a recent discussion with a friend I mentioned that if the people of the world could somehow take back the water from the companies that stole it, forced them to make it pure again (or as pure as possible) that we, as a people, could slowly take back control from the governments and corporations that would dictate to us. Her response was, “Good luck with that.”

And that is where I broke. The corruption is so deep and so overwhelming that in order to live life, people must reach a point of apathy. Take for instance the Occupy Wall Street movement. In the beginning people were talking about the issues. People brought their dissent to the streets and banded together to share what they knew and what made them passionate. It was the talk at every social gathering – what is wrong and what needs to be done to change it.

During this time I asked the question, what do you want the future to look like? To this I received many answers. Free education, more jobs, less debt, better food, cleaner water, new technology, politics free from commercial and corporate input, socialism.

Those answers, while valid, make me sad. Not because I don’t think that all children should be educated with all the knowledge that they could ever desire, or because I don’t think that water should be pure, but because none of those answers addressed what is wrong. And what is wrong is that the vision of our culture is corrupt.

Take for a moment and step back. Say one day you develop a runny nose, and you dismiss it as allergies. Then the next night you get a soar throat. Probably the allergies again, the pollen must be worse this season. The next night you get a cough and again you dismiss it as allergies. But then your body starts to feel weak and you start running a fever. It feels like there are heating pads behind your eyes. Then you conclude that you must have a cold.

That conclusion came from a list of symptoms. The earlier symptoms could be explained away with a simple “it’s just” but the fever and weakness… not so easily dismissed. Imagine going to the doctor to have him conclude that these symptoms are individual and unrelated. You know better and you would be upset that he told you otherwise.

Yet when you try to conclude from the list of cultural symptoms that there is something wrong with the way we live, with our vision of the world, you might as well roll around in the mud, drink a few pints of peppermint schnapps, maybe smoke some crack and then try again. You’ll probably get more people listening if they think you’re a hobo rather than a sane, productive member of society.

And that is about where you stand with the people who were so ready to talk about social change just four months ago. The lively topic of the parties, Occupy, what can we the people do to change things, has been re-reduced to “Good luck with that.” Why shouldn’t it be that way? Just three days ago, a well formulated, legitimate battle between 80 something farmers and seed growers lost their chance to be protected from super agriculture bully Monsanto on the grounds that they have “overstated” the real potential threat of lawsuit. (full argument for the plaintiffs here )

So many people are aware of the issues yet example such as Organic Seed Growers…. v Monsanto are daily occurances. They expose the corruption but make it more and more impossible to do anything. Remember the video at the beginning of Occupy that showed the bigwigs of Wall Street celebrating and mocking the protests just one floor below with champagne? We are helpless to make a difference.

We are helpless because the changes we want to make still promote the system. Socialism is not going to save our species from self annihilation on multiple fronts. Why? Because our vision is corrupt.

The vision that I mean is the vision employed by nearly every single person on the planet. It is the idea that I am right, I am living the way every human should live. If you don’t live my way, not only are you wrong, you are invalidating the way that I live and therefore conform or die. This vision has been around since about 10,000 BCE, In China, Japan, India, Middle East, Europe, Mediterranean. This vision is what caused the Greeks to expand their influence, the Romans, the Crusades, and it fuels our modern wars and petty social dramas.

I have broken with the world. I know what is wrong and I know that in the current system with the current vision there is no reform that will change the outcome. Pouring more money into education is not going to change anything. Growing organic food isn’t going to stop the decimation that agriculture has on the planet. Protest is not going to change the corrupt government.

This is what brings tears to my eyes. The number of times I have tried to write this and relate this to others. As it stands my opinion will be debated from the side wearing blinders, the side resisting the most crucial change. The answer to how do we make the world a better place is experimentation and letting go of the old vision and the final realization that there is not ONE way for people to live, but hundreds and thousands of ways, maybe even millions.

If we as a society would let go of the social memes that envelope the whole world and begin to consider those around us. What works for you and your community does not necessarily work for others. Even now, the groups bringing light to the issues and asking people to take action on those issues are still promoting the old vision.

New vision is needed, and I’ll tell you the secret, its not socialism, its not anything we have ever known before. And it requires your mind to make it happen.

America I weep

For the past two weeks there has been mention of a bill in the Senate known as S.1867. It is a bill to authorize the powers and funds available to the Pentagon and US Military. Introduced on the 14th of November, it became a topic of interest as one provision in the bill will allow for the capture and detention of any civilians suspected of terrorism anywhere in the world. This includes American citizens on America soil. It would allow the Military, Pentagon, President or whoever else in these positions of power, to hold citizens without charge, indefinitely just because they “could be” terrorists.

And today, Bill S. 1867, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, passed the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives for consideration. If passed there, the President has 10 days to sign it into law, 10 days to do nothing and it becomes law or 10 days to veto…. Unfortunately, the Senate passed S. 1867with a 93 to 7 vote. Veto proof. We shall see what the House does will this measure.

If this bill passes, it will mean the end of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments. But that isn’t all. While not in the provisions of the bill – as far as I can tell, which usually allows for full viewing of the text of the bill, does not offer that option for S. 1867 – religion could and will likely be used as a means of discerning “terrorists” from the general population. What I mean to say is that any out spoken followers of Islam could be taken into custody and held indefinitely by the US. Another action that could soon follow is the rounding up of Muslims into modern equivalents of Nazi Germany Ghettos.

Eventually, any “Anti American” sentiment will be enough to declare you a terrorist. You write a blog against a bill (eyes shift to the nearest mirror) and suddenly you are a member of Al Qaeda because you are spreading dissention. Freedom of press, assembly, religion and the right to bear arms will not be suspended by law, just by suspicion.

What bothers me most is that my friends, my family, people on the street are unaware. I was walking through Bartell’s in shock that life could continue with the news of the passing of this through the Senate. I felt like crying as I grabbed a bottle of conditioner thinking that the America they taught us about in school is no longer the America I live in.

I weep for my fellow country men and women. I weep for the future generations who will live under tyranny without knowledge of anything better. They will grow up with a sensor, with stories of the big bad terrorists and the great America that is capturing and torturing them until they confess their plans. I weep for the other countries around the world, the ones we invaded with ideas of democracy and talk of freedoms untold.

I weep because America is no longer free.

I know it still has to pass the house and be signed and the president can still veto it… but that is besides the point. The point is that this is AMERICA, we do not detain, torture and execute citizens without due process of law. This bill should not be on the table, these are not rights that we should ever think of eliminating.

The scariest thing I have read on this topic is from one of its supporters:

“It is not unfair to make an American citizen account for the fact that they decided to help Al Qaeda to kill us all and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence about what may be coming next,” Graham said. “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”

“Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.” ?

America, I weep for you. Humanity I weep for you. Unchecked Capitalistic 1%ers with the full support of the largest military in the world. It was so nice to know you America.

Combating Hunger in America

Today I read an article that said 1 in 5 children are at risk for hunger. 14.5% of households in 2010 did not have the resources to feed everyone. (US Department of Agriculture) Two things that don’t help is the lack of knowledge of tasty, healthy and cheap meals and the lack of time to prepare them. Naturally the author outlines the volunteers who are working to combat this problem. Teaching parents how to shop and cook while getting children enthused to help. The full article is

It is awesome that there are people – lots of culinary students – who will give up their time to teach parents and children to survive in these tough economic times. But what about the briefly mentioned population that work two jobs for 16 to 18 hours a day, who barely find time to eat themselves yet alone can prepare dinner for their kids? The single mothers and fathers whose only real options is to give the babysitter enough cash for McDonalds or three slices of pizza from down the street.

Now what about the exceptionally broke youth, fresh out of Mom and Dad’s house, who now must learn to prepare food for themselves as well. They are underemployed, on a tight budget and don’t know how to eat healthy….

Yesterday my friend who is 18 made dinner for 5 people. Homemade Kung Pow Chicken, the night before it was homemade green curry. She is only 18 and works as a kitchen manager in a local bakery. On a nightly basis she makes food with us, improvising, using what she has, and teaching who ever is in the kitchen how to prepare what ever treat she is making.

Another friend of my is superawesomefantastic at soul food. Once a week she will feed about 30 people at her house and another 10 to 20 who are hard at work at local bars. These kids (I call them kids even though they are all a decade older than me) would not be able to eat a decent meal after their shift. Most would go to bed on a stomach of liquor and tater tots.

Both of my friends are great with children which got me to thinking, what if we could set up a volunteer babysitting service for those families? The ones who don’t have the time or energy to shop for and prepare healthy meals? Teach the youth who are fresh out of their homes how to cook (and babysit) and then have them spend a couple of hours a few evenings a week helping a family at risk of hunger.

Parents of course would have to buy the ingredients or give the volunteer money to buy ingredients. But every evening, one more family could rest on the fact that their children were fed. That one parent could conserve a little energy and place it instead into play time, bed time, or work; which ever the case may be. And the kids would be learning how to cook in the process furthering the cycle. Once those children got old enough, they can also volunteer their time to help families in the same situation as themselves.

It’s a small idea, but I hope you can help it grow. A tiny twist on an existing program, but it could reach so many people. Are you a good cook and good with children? Do you have a few hours in the evening, even if its just a few times a week, to  help these families? Do you have youth of your own,maybe a teen? Could you teach your youth to do the same?

Even if this isn’t your cup of tea, if this is an idea you can stand behind, if you know someone who could do this, tell them. Seriously. Humans need to help one another, we need to feed each other. Let’s come together in these tough times and make a difference.