One of the things I love the most about being on a college campus is the potential for an exchange of ideas. 

My favorite freedom protected under the First Amendment is the freedom of the press. The freedom to peaceably assemble is a close second, and I truly appreciate the activism that I will see on campus on a daily basis.

Even in instances where I may not support what the group is saying, I support that they’re saying it. With the exception of those who become hostile and honestly just mean.

Generally these assemblies of people will consist of five or so activists accompanied by a tent and some signs presenting a topic for discussion.

This particular topic of discussion: “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” The question was posed by the pro-life organization, AbortionNo.

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Now, I also love the opportunity for debate. Much like a Sudoku, it keeps my mind sharp.

I enjoy the potential for conversation, and often times finding some kind of common ground. One activist for the organization and I agreed that focusing on a reform of the foster care system and better sex education in schools would be a better way to weed out the need for abortions rather than just outlawing it all together when some women desperately need it.

I like to understand other people, and I like for other people to understand me. 

However, although I support all groups freedom to say something, I also  think it’s important for every group to think about how they’re saying that something.

Something I definitely don’t support about how this group gets their message across is the rather large poster board of a 11-week-old aborted fetus they set up each semester.

This image doesn’t strike a chord with me. But, I wondered, how many women on a college campus had been faced with the unbelievably tough decision of whether or not terminating a pregnancy was the best choice for them? I had this thought last semester when this group came and set up their tent and graphic poster next to Broncho Lake near the Nigh University Center in the middle of campus.

According to a study done in 2008, 1 in five women will have an abortion by the time they’re 25. According to afterabortion.org, 44% of women complained of nervous disorders just eight weeks after having the abortion.

Understand that I am not using this statistic as a reasoning as to why women shouldn’t get abortions. I believe that women have to put a large amount of thought into the decision and I believe they understand that that could be an outcome. But, I don’t think they need unnecessary triggers on their way to lunch while at school getting an education. 

When I asked one of the men, in his 50’s or so,  why they use an image that could potentially be a trigger to so many women he responded with something along the lines of;

When I see the Dallas Cowboy star it triggers me because I hate the Dallas Cowboys, does that mean people shouldn’t have the freedom to use it?

I never claimed that they shouldn’t have the freedom to use the image of the fetus. I’m quite the advocate for the freedom of speech, I’m also an advocate of choosing your words wisely. I was curious as to why they felt it was necessary to use. Not to mention, the comparison of triggers was grotesque.

How you feel when when you see the Dallas Cowboys star is not in anyway comparable to how a woman who is suffering from depression or any other psychological complication due to terminating a pregnancy would feel after practically being forced to see an image of an aborted fetus.  

Another activist claimed that it was important to use imagery to evoke an emotional response. What the image could achieve is worth more than any negative feelings the image causes. My understanding was that making a point was important that someone’s emotional well-being.

I understand the use of imagery to evoke emotion and as a call to action. I just don’t understand hurting people to present imagery most college students have witnessed before.

They weren’t presenting a new idea, or exposing anything that had been lurking around  in the shadows. 

They weren’t bringing something to light that college students didn’t already know about. I truly believe that the use of the image was purely for shock factor, and putting the traffic your booth will receive over the mental wellbeing of others  itself doesn’t seem like a very Christian thing to do.

Overall, I felt that most of the activists, like any activist, were just trying to do what they thought was right and most of them were very kind.

But, the inaccurate information that was being spread is not beneficial to anyone.

One of the volunteers attempted to inform me that abortion was legal until the day before the due date. I refuted his statement with the fact that abortion is only legal at and after 20 weeks in the state of Oklahoma if the mothers life is at risk. He responded claiming that he didn’t have the statute with him so he wasn’t going to argue with me.

Another claimed that there are more families wanting to adopt than there are children available for adoption. However, that claim doesn’t quite like up with the fact that there are 10,000 children in Oklahoma’s foster care system at the moment.

Sure, maybe it was just those two guys who didn’t quite have all of his facts straight, but that means that those two guys shouldn’t be representing the cause. Those guys shouldn’t be in charge of answering students questions or presenting “facts” to anyone. How many people could they have provided those”facts” to that might not know the truth and might just take their word for it? Now we have inaccurate information being circulated and that interferes with peoples ability to form an educated opinion as well as make informed decisions.

It just seems irresponsible to me, and if you have to lie to get people on board with your cause, maybe you don’t have much of a cause.

So assemble. Have your voice heard, it’s your right after all, but think about how you’re getting your message across. More importantly, ensure that your facts truly are facts, otherwise all you’re doing is a disservice to your fellow man.

 

Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

– Mr. Rogers 

Our country saw its largest mass shooting in history early Sunday morning at Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida.

It was one of the scariest and most heart wrenching headlines I’ve read in my life and as the day went on, my Facebook feed presented me with article after heart breaking article. Articles that contained the text message threads from terrified night club patrons saying their final goodbyes to their loved ones. Articles demanding gun control. Articles claiming that gun control isn’t the problem. Articles claiming that the shooting was an act of terrorism, bigotry, and hate. Articles claiming that it was a deserved act of god.

This tragedy is the most recent example of society being tested by evil, hatred, and bigotry. And seeing these massive acts of violence and responses to the violence that lack empathy make it easy to lose hope. But to those losing hope I offer you this solace,

It was the largest shooting in U.S. history, but it was also one of the fastest mobilization of humanitarian aid we’ve seen as well.

Go Fund Me has raised $8,915,736 in the past two days from 85,390 people.

The Walt Disney Company is donating $1 million to a fund created by Orlando officials to help victims of the shooting and is also matching contributions made by the company’s employees to the OneOrlando fund, which was established by Orlando’s mayor following the tragedy.

The Orlando blood bank announced that they were in desperate need of blood for those injured in the attack and the over-whelming response it received resulted in a crashed website and full voice mail. Thousands of people are lining up and waiting for hours in the summer heat to donate blood and children are there passing out water to them. Chic-Fil-A, although known for always being closed on Sundays, even cooked up food for those waiting for hours in the donation lines.

More than a thousand people came together during a vigil that was held in Orlando Tuesday night. Hundreds of vigils have also been held across the country.

Flags across the nation have been lowered and U.S. Embassys’ across the world have been flying the rainbow flag to show that they stand with the LGBT community.

And that has to mean something. 

Humanity is a sleeping giant that is easier awoken by love than by hate and for every person waiting to commit an act of hate there are thousands waiting to commit acts of love.

Look for the helpers, and more importantly, be a helper.

This is not a Hillary hate article

No, I will not just “give up and support Hillary already.”

More accurately, I will not just give up and support Hillary already because somebody told me to, which is the vibe I’ve been picking up throughout this entire election from most media outlets as well as social interactions with Facebook/Twitter/real life friends.

This article is not directed at those who have kindly pointed out that not only is Clinton not a bad choice, but she could be our only chance at defeating Trump, a far greater evil. This article is directed at those who have been presenting disappointed Sanders supporters with mocking comments like “feel the math.”

It is also directed at those who label Sanders supporters as “childish” and “selfish” for not being willing to relocate their total support immediately. Those who have labeled Bernie supporters who weren’t quite ready to jump ship after the results from the California primary came out in Clinton’s favor as “sore losers.”

So here’s my question, how willing would you be to give up on a politician who you truly believe will addressand solve problems you’ve lost sleep over, while you watch them ailing your fellow human beings, that have previously been ignored? Someone who
exemplifies true persistence, integrity, and a genuine personality, which are characteristics we rarely see in people in general, let alone a political figure.

Personally, some of the reasons for my unwavering support of Bernie can be summed up in the story of the rally I attended for him back in the fall:

I arrived at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday figuring the line would’ve died down enough to be able to get inside without too much waiting. How many people in Oklahoma could possibly want to attend a Bernie Sanders rally?

I was directed to the back of a line that stretched back around 5 miles. Apparently, when the doors to the center opened at 4 p.m. there were already 1,000 people in line. Let me tell you, this was the first time I had ever been excited about a line in my life.

We didn’t get inside until 7:30 p.m., which would’ve been unfortunate since the speech was supposed to begin at 7:00 p.m., but Sanders refused to speak until the room was filled to capacity.

Growing up in small town Oklahoma, I had never seen so many Democratic supporters in one place in my life. 6,900 to be exact, with another 2,000 outside who were not able to get in due to over-capacity. This is nothing compared to the crowd of 28,000 he drew in New York, funny that main stream media outlets didn’t cover that.

He discussed the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change we are certainly facing, raising minimum wage to a livable wage, criminal justice system reform, and investing in jobs and education. Applause and cheers erupted from the audience after each point he made.

These people weren’t cheering for sexist, racist, or hateful remarks. Thousands of people were cheering for the greater good.

I had never seen so many people my age interested in politics and willing to take action. I felt like crying, because for the first time in my life I felt like there were people in the world who truly care. For the first time I felt like I didn’t have to worry about all of the injustices of the world alone.

As we were leaving the Cox Business Center after the rally we saw Bernie Sanders run from his SUV motorcade across the street and jump on top of a ledge in the center of a group of people. He was taking time to speak to those who waited for hours in the cold, but couldn’t get into the rally due to over-capacity. I mean, how cool is that?

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So you see, Bernie Sander is not just a politician to me, he’s a symbol of hope. Hope I once didn’t have for my generation, this country or the world that has been restored.

We have never seen a candidate like Bernie and there’s a chance that we never will again. You can see why that might be hard to give that up.

While Sanders winning the Democratic nomination is bleak, the idea of him running on a third party ticket as a way to obtain the nomination has shed light for some Berners. NBC discovered that 47% of voters would consider a third-party candidate if the choices for the major parties were Trump and Clinton.

While I don’t think he will run on a third-party ticket out of concern of splitting the democratic vote too severely to defeat Trump, I would vote for him if he did.

I would vote for Sanders on any ticket.

I know wonderful Sanders supporters who are now backing Hillary and I know wonderful Sanders supporters who will wait until the very end. But they are all doing what they think is best for the country. 

In the end, I will vote regardless of whether or not Sanders is on the ballot and my vote will represent who I believe will best lead this country and who stands to serve the greater good. But nobody will bully me into my vote.

Fellow Bernie Sanders supporters, please do not be disheartened, because he has started something. He has gotten Americans to look at the system and realize that it’s broken. He’s gotten us all to realize that our voices do matter and that we can all do something to make this world a little less awful. He’s united us. And I do believe that the people of this country have finally had enough. A revolution has begun, and I hope you will all continue to stand behind it.