Sunday, July 10, 2016

I Believe....

This was another gut wrenching week in America.

I, like so so many, was deeply impacted by the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then again by the murders of Dallas Police Officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Aherns, and Michael Smith. I don't believe that any of these individuals should have been killed.

I think there's been some confusion about what exactly I, and many others, believe in. There is a misconception by some that because individuals were speaking out against the deaths of Alton and Philando, that automatically meant they were "happy" about the death of the Dallas Police Officers. That hit me like a ton of bricks. That's not how it works. So I've decided to list out some of the things that I do believe in. But because that's not enough, I'm also sharing what I'm going to do about it.

I get it- I can't solve the problems of the world. I also get that not everyone is going to agree with me, or believe in the same things I do...but if you do, I encourage you to take small steps.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of everything I believe in. We don't have time for that. This list reflects the current events that I mentioned above.

I believe in stricter gun control. (Note, this does not mean I believe in banning all guns...again, that's not how this logic works). So, I've signed up for alerts from , a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.

I believe that racism exists. So, I am going to watch my words. I am going to learn. I am going to hope that people call me out when I say something racist, and I will try to gently call out others. I am going to keep an eye open for events in my community that are aimed to discuss racism, so that I can continue to learn and hear view points from others.This is a big one, guys. But I think the first step in making a change is accepting that racism DOES exist. I've heard way too many people say that it doesn't. (Sidenote... I plan to read The New Jim Crow if anyone wants to read it along with me.

I believe that police brutality is a real issue. (If I haven't made this clear yet, let me once again say that I do NOT believe that all police are evil). I personally have done a lot of research on this issue- I've read both sides. And the conclusion that I have come to is that it continues to be an issue. LET ME AGAIN SAY that I respect all police officers, I know that they have an incredibly hard job, and I know that they often have to act without having time to think. I also know that sometimes it IS necessary to kill the suspect. But I also believe that many of these deaths by police officers are unjust. And what's more upsetting is that the police often walk away, free of punishment. That's why it's such a complicated issue! So, I've become part of  to learn more about the issues, and to support where I can. I'd really encourage everyone to read this website.

I believe that police officers deserve respect and safety. So, I am going to make a point to say THANK YOU whenever I come across an officer.  I hope to pay for their meal or coffee if I run into them at breakfast. I also plan to run in the Thin Blue Line of Michigan Fall Color Run, which  provides assistance in the areas of financial, legal, benefit recovery, counseling, funeral stipends, college stipends, medical costs, medical equipment and other areas of hardship to the families of injured, personal illness, disabled or deceased members of the law enforcement community.

I believe that poverty is a root cause for many of the issues America currently faces. Admittedly, I struggle here. How can I fix poverty? It's such a complex issue. Poor people have less access to the care that they need and deserve. I can give money to homeless people I pass on the street, I can donate clothes and food- but is that enough? I've signed up to help advocate with CARE, which is  worldwide movement dedicated to ending poverty. They have an ACTION network- they make it really easy for you. You just find the causes you want to support and sign a petition- even if that's all you can do. .  Locally, I've inquired about volunteering for Grace Centers of Hope.

I believe that our youth need positive role models and mentors. I hope to volunteer with the children at Grace Centers of Hope, but I also support Detroit Cristo Rey High School. I would encourage you to look up mentor programs in your area, or to donate to schools like Cristo Rey.

Above all things, I believe that love is always the answer, and that every single person, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or class, should be treated equally. EQUALLY. In everything that we do. I can practice this by loving and embracing everyone and by choosing peace and love before hate or anger. I know I can't fix all of this on my own. I know I can't get involved in every single charity or organization. But I can do my best. I can do my best, and I can speak love.

I must mention how lucky I am, too, to be part of the Sisters of Mercy community. The Sisters have similar beliefs that I do, and they do their best to bring awareness to the community and to fight for the people who don't have a voice. They often hold or collaborate on events that touch on many of these issues. Just this week I got an invite to a workshop on Racism, that I plan to attend. If you'd like more information on the work the Sisters are doing or how you can tag along at some of these discussions/events, let me know.

I'm going to close with something I wrote back in 2010. The words remain true.

 I believe music can save our souls
And connect even the loneliest strangers
Who are anxiously waiting for that curtain up, cue the band
Belly up to the barricade
Singing along to the words they know so well
Escaping reality with thousands of their closest friends
Cuz no one gets them like these lyrics and melodies
I don't believe in lost causes
Everyone deserves to be found
I was one of them, destined for failure
But baby look at me now, I believe in me
and I believe in you
I believe everyone has a voice
So if you'r waiting your for your turn
This is me telling you it's time
You are important and you better believe
You are loved
So step up, stand up, and be loud
I don't believe in lost causes
Everyone deserves to be found
I was one of them, destined for failure
But baby look at me now, I believe in me
and I believe in you
I believe that time is precious
And life can't always be according to our plans
So lose the grudge, forgive, and love hard
Love with all you've got 
Because of all the things I believe in
I believe the right answer is always love

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