50 Years Later: A Dream Not Yet Fully Realized

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Fifty years ago today, Dr Martin Luther King Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and shared with us his dream for our great country.  It was a fairly simple dream in that all he wanted was equality for all.  He wanted love to rule over hate, and for his own children to live in peace with white families.  So simplistic and beautiful, but has his dream been fulfilled?

In part, yes.  Under the law, everyone of every race is viewed as equal.  My daughter plays mostly with the neighbor kids who are black, and has no concept any difference other than their skin is different colors.  There are laws in place designed to give protections to Blacks in order for them to receive equal opportunities.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

But racism is not dead.  It’s far from it.  Hate crimes happen every day against all groups within our society.  It’s not just a crime against skin color anymore.  And even with the nations first Black President in office, racism is still flourishing in all corners.  Progress has been made, as is evident with President Barack Obama, but we still has so far to go.

Fifty years later, Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians have the highest rates of poverty with unequal access to the very things that improve and better an individuals place in society, like education and pay.  Inner cities, where minorities are the majority, have the lowest performing and underfunded school systems.  This is also where poverty flourishes.  Women are still fighting for equal pay to that of their male counterparts, as well as the right to govern over their own bodies.  Homosexuals are still fighting for marriage equality, and the same benefits for their families that heterosexual couples receive.  Muslims, and people who are mistaken for Muslims, are hated and discriminated against because of the actions of a few.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no finger-pointing here.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  We all have a share in the progression of equality.  A truly free society, in my opinion, is one in which equality is second nature.  Everybody has the same access to the important things, such as healthcare and education.  Instead of a dark cloud of hatred, a beautiful light of love shines down on everyone.

That may be only a dream, but it’s a dream worth making a reality.  Let’s reflect on the last fifty years.  All the progress, the steps backward, and the path that lie ahead of us in order to reach that dream.  Dr. King’s dream should not go unfulfilled.  His words and actions should be remembered for generations to come, and not taken for granted until his dream has been realized.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you wish to read Dr. King’s speech, and I think everyone should today, you can find it HERE at the National Archives.  You can also listen to him give his historical speech here in this video:

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Societal Disconnect: Misplaced Attention and Priorities

Over the weekend, news of Syria using chemical weapons on its own people broke.  It wasn’t the first time this type of story came out of that country, but there are pictures and video of it now.  Dead women clutching their dead children with no apparent shrapnel or gunshot wounds on any of them.  There were no destroyed buildings, or signs of an explosion.  The evidence seems to point to Assad using chemical weapons on his own citizens.  On children.  Innocent children who never stood a chance against such atrocities, who should never have to fear or face them in the first place.SYRIA-CHEMICAL_2650175b

Syria wasn’t the biggest news on mainstream media or social networks though.  Also over the weekend, MTV hosted the Video Music Awards, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Miley Cyrus’ performance was…interesting.  It has been the topic of debate and conversation for two days now, with much of it surrounding the questionable behavior during the performance.  Weird tongue action, foam fingers touching places it shouldn’t, and the twerking happening every so often.  Her performance has been deemed inappropriate, disgusting, to sexual, and just plain trashy by most.  I will admit, I even through out some faux rage about it.  She is young, was a Disney star (Hannah Montana for you rock people), and is trying to show she’s an adult now with this type of show.  What about her young fans?  What about a little self-respect?

I used the word faux because what was I really upset about? It happens all the time, especially at the VMA’s.  You don’t watch that awards show for the awards, you watch it for the outlandish attire and questionable performances.  I was also  a 20-something once, and I did questionable things then too.  So why is there such surprise at Miley’s?  Why have we misplaced the outrage upon her, and not the true atrocities in the world, like Syria?

It really says something about our society, and the things we deem important when we choose to focus on the lives of celebrities instead of the lives on innocent children.  When was the last time you saw the face of a child living on our own streets on our nightly news?  Or the massacre of people in Sudan?  I can’t remember the last time.  I might see tiny blurbs of it here or there, but a lot of focus is on what Kim Kardashian’s body looks like post-baby, or what celebrity slipped up and did something stupid.  Social media is even worse, and a true look into what society is thinking about.   Trending today on Twitter is Miley Cyrus, twerking, and the VMA’s.  At the very bottom of the list is Syria, and even then it drops off the list off and on throughout the day. 

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How many of you can actually find Syria on the map?

Why do we care more about celebrities than children being killed, or the fact that Congress and the President keep taking vacations instead of passing a budget?  When did our attention shift so much that many people do not even know what is going on overseas?!  THAT right there is a real problem.  Our world is so small in comparison to what it used to be.  The internet connects us all every day, as well as global trading, and even seemingly small every day events can impact the world.  Our focus should be the real problems in our own country and abroad, like poverty, famine, and mass killings, not the life of a celebrity just because they are a celebrity.

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.  We can’t expect the violence to end if we do not even give two thoughts about it.  Washington wont change its tune and actions until we focus our attention on them, and force a change.  I just wish I knew why it changed, and where this misplaced attention will take our society one day.  I can’t think of anywhere good it could drop us.

Music, Oh Music! How I Love Thee!

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

-Bob Marley

Music is beautiful.  All of it.  I can’t say that I am knowledgeable on all that is musical, but I know what makes me happy.  Most of it puts me in a better mood, clears my mind, and gets me moving.  No matter what kind of mood I am in, I can turn on my Spotify account, hit Starred, and instantly be taken away from whatever bad mood, thoughts, or dark clouds that are surrounding me.  It really is a beautiful thing.

Like most people, I have songs that I identify with, and listen to when I am in that particularly dark state.  They usually involve a great beat, a great message, or both.  Lately, my song is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.   The music makes me smile every time, and the beat gets me up and dancing with my girls.  The lyrics are wonderful.  Be who you are, and find the ones who share those same qualities.  Everyone has a place in this world, and you just have to find it, let go of the societal chains, and just be.  My favorite words of the song are “I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.”  Goodness knows this is how I feel on a daily basis.  Lately I have felt naive, and too empathetic.

Is that even possible?  To feel too much empathy?  I know I am a very emotional person, and I feel other people’s emotions as well.  Even someone I read about in the news that lives oceans away.  I always feel as if I let the worlds problems rest solely on my shoulders, as if I am the one who needs to fix everything.  I CANT DO THAT!  I am only one person, and just have to let go of the idea that it’s my responsibility to fix the world.  I have to share that responsibility, and advocate for change, help, and peace.  I have to use my voice and compassion in order to make a difference.  Music has helped me realize that, in particular that song by Avicii.

That’s why I listen to music.  Not only is it a wonderfully beautiful aspect of life, but it helps me work through my issues.  When I was suffering from postpartum depression, music was one of the few things that helped me get through the day.  Then when I was writing about experiences, music helped me sort through the jumble that were my memories, and get them down onto paper.  Florence and the Machine was one in particular that helped a lot with her song “Shake It Out.” 

How motivating is that?  If you start to feel like the world is pressing you down, or the darkness in your mind, you have to try to shake it off.  Know that you are worthy of goodness, that you deserve happiness, and the demons in your head are just that: demons in your head.  They aren’t you, and they can’t define you.  It’s tough getting to that point where you can really know that those dark thoughts really aren’t your own, but once you do, it’s a beautifully liberating thing.  I still struggle with it, but when I realize it, I just turn that song on.  Helps me so much.

Music can also just be fun, and the one thing that can make you get up and dance.  My two most favorite songs for that are “Daylight” by Matt and Kim, and “Love Today” by MIKA.  Matt and Kim are my go-to for uplifting spirits, as my girls and I always end up dancing and laughing together.  Seeing their smiles while we jam to good music equals happiness and success in my mind.   

What’s your jam, your go-to mood lifter?  Share the music!

Stop Turning A Blind Eye

“You can turn a blind eye to people causing others to suffer greatly, believing God will choose who is worthy at the end of days, or you can bring down those who cause such horrendous chaos and God can still decide who had evil or good in their hearts.”

I am agnostic, so the part about God above means nothing to me, but the idea behind the quote is strong.  You can choose to stand by and watch atrocities happen, all while believing they will get their own against them in return, OR you can choose to stand up against the atrocities and those who perform them.  I choose the latter.

Recently, Russia has been in the news due to a law that was passed and upheld in regards to homosexuality.  From what I understand, the law was intended to prevent people from using homosexual “propaganda” against children, indoctrinating them and making them gay.  This has brought protests and supportive rallies for and by homosexuals, which has brought on arrests, violent public beatings, and shaming.  Carry a rainbow anything on your person, and you face the chance of an arrest, or being publicly beaten to a bloody pulp.  Support the gays, and you face the same consequence.  All in order to keep our children safe from the gay.

gayolympicsThe Olympics are coming up, and they are being hosted by Russia this time around.  Many are voicing their opposition to Russia’s laws and behavior, and fear for their own safety, or the safety of their countries athletes.  Many are even calling for a boycott of the Olympics in protest.  Russia has claimed they will not punish those from other countries who are gay, or support their fellow teammates who are gay, but come on.  Who really believes that?  They might not face criminal charges, but the fact remains that violence is being brought down on people who support, or who show they are gay.  Who wouldn’t fear walking down the street with a gay friend, or holding hands with their partner?

Stephen Fry was on Twitter this morning calling for a solidarity salute by the athletes, a salute to show Putin and his lawmakers that they stand by their fellow gay athletes, and that he can shove it up his ass (The hashtag is #sochisalute, in case you’re interested or have ideas).  In response, a fellow Twitterer has expressed that we should keep politics out of sports, and that we should confront the situation with more politics.  This person has also stated in a lengthy conversation with me that it’s just a law against propaganda against children, and that she has not seen proof that violence and oppression is occurring.  She’s Russian, and lives in Moscow, by the way.

Turning a blind eye.  Maybe she is doing it because the news in Russia chooses to not broadcast such atrocities, knowing full well they are horrible and should be condemned.  Maybe she really doesn’t have any idea this is going on, or maybe she is just part of the problem.  Knowingly turning a blind eye so that you do not need to stand up and fight against the problems is part of the problem.  Choosing to ignore the pain and suffering of those around you because it should be left to the lawmakers is part of the problem.  Standing by and not making your voice heard because the politicians and law enforcement can handle it is part of the problem.

How can anyone turn away from what is so obvious?  Maybe it’s a fear of getting beaten and arrested themselves, but even that shouldn’t prevent a person from speaking out.  Nothing was ever accomplished through silence.  Nothing was ever changed that way.

Stand up, use your voice, use any power you may have to stop the wrongs being forced on others.  Stand up to that bully threatening that kid on the playground.  Speak up and protest those politicians who are abusing their power to oppress others.  Stop those people beating up another just because of their skin color, or sexuality.  Even if you think it will change nothing, do it!  Awareness and a voice will bring light upon those performing the atrocities, and they will no longer be able to hide among the shadows.  They will be forced to be seen for all that they are.

Stop turning a blind eye, or you will become a victim yourself.

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The Decluttering Begins

Hello Peoples.

It’s been a very long time since I have blogged.  Looking at this one in particular, one would think I have never written a blog post in my life.  However, those ones would be mistaken.  In case you’re curious, I used to write about my experiences with Postpartum Depression here:  http://nicolesoutlook.wordpress.com/

If you feel like it, take a look.  I used to write about everything I dealt with while suffering from PPD, and was very honest and straight forward.  It was incredibly hard, but also incredibly liberating.  Not only did it help me work through a lot of the thoughts I had on the topic, but it also helped some other women discover that they were not alone.  I think that was the most rewarding aspect of it all.

So, you may be asking yourself, “Why this new blog, Nicole?”

I’m so glad you asked!  My mental health issues now aren’t PPD, nor is it really depression anymore.  I deal a lot now with some major anxiety, whether it’s social or just plain old intrusive, mind altering anxiety.  The things that seem to help me move past them enough to function is music, and sharing.

So here it is.  My new blog, where I shall spend time emptying my brain of all the clutter that is streaming around in an attempt to take my mind back.  I liked my mind before it started changing.  I would like to think I can attempt to regain some of that back.

Will you stick around?  Will you follow me through this journey of nonsensical talking about whatever jumps into my head?

“What you find in the dark may surprise you.” –Chris Kluwe