So, You Say You Want Freedom?

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This post started as a simple Facebook status that I planned to share on The Teapot Journalist Facebook page, but by the time I finished, I realized I might as well expand it and turn it into a proper blog because it is such an important issue.

The New York Times shared an article (as have many others) regarding Trump’s latest attack on the press—primarily the revocation of Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials after an terse interaction during a news conference (but also verbally attacking two black, female journalists—and yes, I do think it’s important to note both their race and gender).

The reason I am choosing to address this is because of the many Americans who regularly express concern and fear about losing their freedoms—usually in relation to guns, taxes, and other choices they want to make for themselves.  Often, they follow their arguments with the statement that if we lose one freedom, what’s to stop another freedom from being taken away?

I agree.  When it comes to freedoms and limitations, there are many angles to consider.  But, the one that is continually overlooked is the constant attack on the press—a Constitutionally protected entity intended to provide the people with the truth of what is happening at local, national, and global levels.

I, like many others, have grave concerns about the way money and power manipulates our news sources—particularly in the mainstream media.  Filtering headlines, sources, and mixed messages can feel like a full-time (and exhausting) job.  Personally, I am struggling to find sources, even “underground,” that I can trust at any level because the governments and chess board manipulators at all levels work so hard to make their propaganda the diet of “the people,” rather than truth.

However, especially as a journalist, I believe the Press has a place and purpose in society which ad hominem attacks and constant cries of “fake news!” do not help them fill.  If we genuinely desire change, a more productive approach is to think critically and hold journalists to a higher standard with the intention of seeing the Fourth Estate rise up with integrity.

For those concerned about losing freedoms, the revocation of Acosta’s press credentials and threats of similar action against other journalists should go on that list of things about which to worry—and speak up about.  Freedom of the Press is a Constitutional right that, regardless of your opinion of one news source or another, if curtailed has the potential to to open the door to many other valued freedoms disappearing.

Don’t make the Press the enemy.  Raise your expectations and productively challenge them to raise their standards.

(I will note the irony that the New York Times is sharing this story after they essentially pushed Chris Hedges out of his position with them when his journalism put the NYT in a bad light by challenging the American myth of nationalism and that war and violence are necessary for peace.)

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Because I Love Being a Vegetarian…

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Before my husband and I got married, we watched the documentary Cowspiracy.  It was fascinatingly eye-opening (I actually pulled out a notebook and started taking notes).  The impact the meat industry has on the environment is astonishing—I’d never have imagined how many resources are used to keep up with the United States’ meat consumption.  That’s without considering the way the animals that are mass produced are treated and raised (have you seen a Tyson’s Chicken compared to a healthy one in your neighbor’s backyard?  It will make you never want to eat non-farm fresh chicken again.).  Then, consider the water and land necessary to hydrate and house all these animals?  That’s just the tip of the iceberg…it’s really crazy when you stop to think about it!

Of course, if we didn’t view meat as something we need daily, or even multiple times a day, a lot of the problems would likely start to diminish.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I used to be one of those people who would incredulously (and, sometimes even mockingly) say, “You’re vegetarian?”  Not eating meat seemed absurd to me.  Of course, for those who found it genuinely gross, I offered understanding, but I just didn’t really get the whole “not eating meat” thing.

Well, now I’m one of those vegetarians who pretty regularly has to defend my stance (though, I’m working on not feeling like I owe an explanation to anyone).

Sometime before we were married, my husband and I decided that after we returned home from our honeymoon, we would officially adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.  He was mostly vegetarian already; I ate meat when I went out or if someone cooked it, but that was about it.  I hate to touch raw meat and didn’t buy for myself.  We chose vegetarianism for ethical reasons: environmental and due to animal production/treatment/processing.

We experimented with new foods to add into our diet.  Whereas avocado had previously been a treat, it was soon a regular item in our fridge.  I started researching new and creating my own recipes.  It was a lot of fun!  My husband was great at broiling tofu and making stir fry dishes.  I loved making veggie quinoa with all kinds of summer veggies—one of the highest compliments I received was from meat eaters telling me that hadn’t even realized there was no meat!  Plus, we were living in the Asheville area, which made vegetarianism so delicious and so easy!  (Whenever we go back to visit, I basically make a list of the places I want to at and then get my friends to go with me.)

Of course, not too long after we were married, I was diagnosed with cancer, so my cooking days abruptly ended (and were what I most looked forward to doing when I recovered).  Each time I got strong enough to start cooking again (I’ve now gone through two battles with cancer), I found the kitchen a place of therapy.  I’ve utilized Pinterest for all it’s amazing recipes—many of which I make and tweak as I go.  And I have enough—when I was in the hospital for my stem cell transplant in January, I couldn’t eat for about two weeks.  I was craving so many delicious dishes, I would just sit and scroll through Pinterest searching all my favorite foods.

A couple of months ago I was finally really able to start getting back in the kitchen.  It’s been so much fun, especially as the weather has started to change.  I’ve experimented with Butternut Squash, curry-ing and coconut-ing everything, and am now working on perfecting the basic biscuit—my mom’s recipe (by perfecting I mean, I’ve made two batches, the second better than the first.  I have a long way to go.).

What prompted this post was, you guessed it, finding a couple of new recipes on Pinterest and realizing: I LOVE BEING A VEGETARIAN!  (Yes, sometimes I miss meat.)  But, it feels like I’m on an exploration adventure!  I’ve gotten to try so many amazing dishes, learned how to get the amount of protein I need (which was higher after my stem cell transplant), and generally eat even more veggies than ever before.  I rarely feel like I’m missing out on anything.  And, yeah, it’s kind of fun to be different…but also, I feel like I’ve gained a new community: it’s like, “You’re a vegetarian?  Me too!”  Instant bond.

This post is brought to you because: I love being a vegetarian and wanted to share.
Also, check out the documentary or do some independent research into the meat industry.  At the very least, consider limiting your consumption and buying from a local, ethical farm so that you know you’re getting a quality product…and supporting a small business!

And if you come to my house, especially currently, you’ll probably smell Indian spices, because I can’t seem to get enough.  Or cozy, winter, comfort food (like this lentil stew on mashed potatoes that is basically a reverse shepherds pie.  It’s amazing.).

A Phone Call With A Medicaid Case Worker


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This particular post highlights a specific telephone encounter I had a few days ago with my Medicaid case worker.  Read on it’s own, it should frustrate you, but if you read it after my article, “I Had Not Idea How Much Medicaid Would Cost me,” published Monday by The Establishment, it will probably infuriate you even more—as it did me.

A few days ago I called my Social Services case worker because documents to renew my Medicaid, which were supposed to arrive last month, still had not arrived.  Surprisingly, she answered (normally I leave a message and have to wait for a call back).

I let her know, in a professional and in-charge manner, why I was phoning, because often the people who work at Social Services are accustomed to treating their clients as sub-human idiots who are almost certainly at fault for whatever issue they’re experiencing.

She listened to my question and then began checking to find out why my documents for my Medicaid review and renewal had not been sent out.  After a few moments, she informed me that the reason was due to the type of plan I was on.  She told me when I applied I did not check the box stating that I wanted to participate in the “Plan First” Medicaid program, which covers women’s health.  Therefore, I would have to entirely reapply for Medicaid—which meant jumping through all the hoops I jumped through less than a year ago.

Her response confused me for several reasons.  1. When we’d spoken the month before, she’d told me I would receive my renewal paperwork shortly and had made no mention of an entirely new application process; 2. at my last six month review, which included an expected, brief coverage lapse while they verified my spenddown, my policy was reinstated without any issues; 3. I couldn’t figure out why I would ever have checked “no” to Plan First, or, for that matter, how the capable Medicaid personnel who assisted me at my treatment facility would have missed that detail if that particular box was critical for me to continue qualifying for healthcare during my stem cell transplant treatment and recovery.

When I responded saying as much, she simply quipped, “That’s the best I can do,” that I needed to check “yes” for “Plan First” on my entirely new application when completing it, and was then about to hang up on me.  I quickly spoke up, “I am a stem cell transplant recovery patient, and I worked with the hospital’s Medicaid office last year to ensure I got all of this taken care of in order to save my life.”  I added that it made no sense why I would have failed to check “yes” to women’s healthcare, especially if it was key to my receiving Medicaid.

She reluctantly started digging further into the computer system when suddenly she commented that she could see where I had checked “yes” next to “Plan First” (ironically, a minute later I absentmindedly took out a letter from a pile of mail, and it contained my “Plan First” card).  After a little more research, she mused, confusedly trailing off, “I don’t understand why…”  She started to blame their new system overhaul for the reason the mistakes were made—after initially trying to blame me for not filling out something properly (since the client is always at fault, and the system is always right).  She added that she was “very glad” I had called in.

At the end of the conversation, after she’d informed me what to expect in the mail, I took another stand for myself letting her know that I was very aware that she’d tried to pin their/her mistakes on me, and, if I had not spoken up, Social Services would have put me through an entirely unnecessary and stressful process because their system failed and she, assuming it was my error, wasn’t going to investigate further.

The system is flawed, and the people who work in it are so cynical and jaded that, if you are going to makes heads or tails of it, you have to know what you are doing—or at the very least you have to stand up for yourself when they start to bulldoze over you and demand they do their part.  The worst element is, the system is so complex and confusing that even the people who work in it don’t always understand it, which results in people falling through the cracks and not receiving adequate (or any) assistance.  Also, it’s drastically underfunded for the needs of the people it has to meet.

I add this only because mid-terms are next week: please, please consider Medicaid and other welfare programs when you vote.  Don’t believe that cutting funding to these programs will solve the national debt.  By helping people live, access healthcare, and get back on their feet (I’d bet money most people don’t want to receive government assistance), we are doing so much more for the greater good of our country than by taking money away from these programs and the people who need them.  Plus, you never know, you might need one of these programs one day.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your World

Over the past few weeks I’ve had my tone and communication approach mentioned or alluded to on several occasions.  As a human, my defenses wanted to go up, and they did to an extent, but I tried my best to take notice and examine the way I speak and interact with people, whether in person or on social media.

A couple of years ago I was invited to contribute to a blog with the goal of sharing in a kind but firm manner about the issues surrounding racial issues, privilege, and the way these topics contribute to a lot of negative events and divides in the United States.  I remember one of my editor’s critiquing me on my tone in a particular piece, essentially reminding me that “you get more flies with honey than with lemons.”

Due to my health circumstances, my primary mode of communication over the past two years has been technological and through social media.  It can be easy to get into word battles, forgetting the person on the other end of the conversation is more than that one point you’re arguing and, more than that, they are also human with a soul and feelings.  Therefore, with all the synchronistic reminders about how I come across to people, I am making a deliberate effort to check my words, speak kindly (but firmly, when necessary), but to also remain true to what I believe, even on hard issues.

A few mornings ago I entered into a conversation with a family member about a political meme they shared.  I care about this person a lot, and I want to facilitate good conversation when we speak because our relationship goes far beyond a Facebook chat.  We were able to have a constructive, cordial, and engaged discussion that ended on a very positive note.  Additionally, it left me considering what I had said, how I had said it, and if there was more I could have added to improve on what I’d said.

Like most people, I think, I continued mulling over certain aspects of what we’d said, trying to think of what my next response would have been, had we continued the discussion—which ultimately began addressing freedoms that we have in the United States, whether real, perceived, or mythical, particularly regarding money and how we spend it.

For instance, how many people are actually able to campaign to become politicians compared to those who would like to based solely on financial ability?  And would campaign spending limits fix this?  I know in the United Kingdom there are spending limits for referendum votes, like for Brexit (I don’t know if they limit candidate campaign spending).  I took the perspective that spending limits would make a positive impact on our political system because it would take some of the power away from the 1% and large corporations and give it back to “the people.”  My family member took the position that if we start to limit freedom in one area there is the danger it will spread into other areas, too.

I understand that concern.  I appreciate and value the freedoms that I have because of my citizenship, race, gender (in Western culture, because even with the hurdles I may face as a woman, other parts of the world are significantly worse), socioeconomic status, etc.  But, what happens to people who don’t have those same privileges?  I am by no means a wealthy person, but all of my needs are met.  Could I go out, campaign for office, and get elected?  Maybe at a local level (which is where we really need to invest our energy, by the way!), but without the right connections to people with money and influence, I would be hard pressed to go to a higher level.

The conversation flowed from the political curtailing of spending to the personal ability to spend, and whether or not either one of us would like someone telling us how we could spend our money if we were one of the lucky few to be exorbitantly wealthy.  Shortly after, busyness of the day caused our conversation to close, but I continued pondering the question and different factors over the course of the next few days (hence this blog post).

I agree that there is a potential danger to limiting freedoms, because when one is sacrificed, it’s that much easier to continue removing others one at a time.  In fact, I would argue we are already at that place, but it’s been done in such a way that many people don’t see it—for instance, the Presidential Alert that most cell phones in the U.S. received last week.  Those alerts mean the government has accessed all of our cell phone numbers from our cell phone companies and can reach and/or surveil us that much more easily.

Remember Edward Snowden?  He’s in Russia because he called out the NSA for illegal collection of data on Americans.  If that doesn’t mean anything to you, watch this great episode from John Oliver as he explains why that should massively freak all of us out!

Moving on…

So, while I get the concern (fear) of the slippery-slope of losing freedom, I have to jump to a different perspective from which to see the concept of spending and money (the semi-original topic).  The “American Dream (myth)”, while perhaps originally rooted in the idea of leaving someplace for a better life, has historically set up the majority of Americans (even today) to believe that anyone can do anything if they work hard enough, and what I earn is mine to use as I please without concern for anyone else (I recognize it’s a very black and white statement for a complex issue, but I’m trying to not write a book.  Feel free to email if you want to discuss further.)

This (predominantly) American mentality has created a selfish society that values personal, monetary worth over the good of humanity.  Of course, many who read that sentence will think, “Not me!  I give _____ amount to such-and-such a charity or religious organization,” or “I gave that homeless person $5 last week,” and while those are good things, it misses the core problem: that while giving to those causes we consider “worthy”, in the very next breath we criticize those who are in need or policies that could help make the playing field more equal if we feel our personal income and accumulated possessions/finances are going to be threatened.

Before you start thinking, “She should move to Venezuela and see how she likes it” or “She’s such a socialist,” hear me out.  I am advocating for a change in how we view our freedom and how we view our fellow humans.

If, as my family member posed, I’d been born to a billionaire father, would I want someone telling me how I could spend my money?  My first reaction is, no.  I’d want to be able to spend and give as I saw fit.  However, when considered, we need to recognize that a better system could be structured if we separated the personal spending from the political.  The issue is that the 1% and the large corporations can use their money as personal investments in the political arena (buying products…or in this case politicians, policies, votes, etc.) to benefit themselves.  How does that help the 99% (who, incidentally, are often the biggest advocates for the absurdly wealthy to be given tax breaks and other benefits, rather than being expected to pay their due to our system, too)?

Ultimately, I see it boiling down to selfishness and greed brought on by the idea that no one deserves anything and should therefore have to work just as hard to get anywhere.  But that ideology ignores the cultural, economic, and systemic shifts that have taken place.  No longer can a college student work for a summer to pay for college.  No longer can someone walk into an office, drop off an application face-to-face, and practically be guaranteed the job.  No longer can (or could we ever?) receive quality healthcare without the risk of financial ruin.  No longer can you move out on your own and easily survive…or survive at all.  The list goes on…

How do we fix this?  We can start by reading, educating ourselves on what’s really happening behind the “curtain” of our political system, opening our hearts and minds to the plights of others, and viewing ourselves as a team.  I’m not advocating for “everyone gets one egg for their meal today.”  I’m advocating for a mentality shift that doesn’t equate “tuition free college” or “free healthcare” as an attack on our freedoms and bank accounts but as an investment into our society and future.  I’m pushing for the understanding that when we set up a system to succeed, even if it costs a little bit more from the people (tax dollars…that aren’t poured into the military industrial complex), that we will all be more successful and stable.

Joy, Pain, Tears: Ten Years

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Sitting on a cannon outside of Rochester Castle

Today is the day my family chose to commemorate the death of my late grandma, of whom I am her namesake.  Her death is the one I have felt most deeply in the course of my life.  It is shrouded in a sense of unknowing, because tragically we don’t actually know how things ended—I think most of us choose to not dwell on that reality.

I still remember the night before I found out she had died.  It was my first semester of college, and I had just completed a project for my Spanish class: a family tree.  I knew my grandma didn’t leave England, but as I lay in bed, I thought to myself, “Maybe if I fly there and back with her, she’ll come to my wedding.”

The next day, one of my floor leaders brought me into her room, and my phone rang.  It was my dad.  I could immediately tell by is voice something was wrong.  He told me Grandma had died.  I remember grief washing over me as I registered his words, and then my very next thought being about him, her son, and telling him how sorry I was.

I went to my room, kept the lights off, and cried, pacing around my small dorm space.  I remember pulling out my Spanish project and writing “(D)” next to her name before taking it to class.

Fall Break was approaching, and the whirlwind began.  Expedited replacement passport, a fast trip to England–my first since I was eight, and the process of becoming reacquainted with my British family in person.  When I reflect on those times together, I’m thankful for them.  I”m thankful for the laughter, the bonding, the sharing of memories, and the tears, acknowledging we’d lost someone dear to us.

As I said at the beginning, Grandma’s death is the one I’ve felt most deeply in all of my life.  There are several reasons for this: she lived in a different country, so I only met her twice, and didn’t have the wonderful memories like my cousins, the world wasn’t as interconnected then (plus, she only had a rotary phone), which made it more difficult to keep in touch, and her personality was one that chatted mainly on holidays and otherwise she did her own thing and expected you to do your own thing (or so I’ve been told).  But, I know she loved me.

The biggest reason her death made such an impact on me is that her’s was the first that didn’t come. with a nice, boxed explanation.  All of the other people I’d known who were older when they’d died (and, I’ve known a lot) came with an explanation: “Oh, they lived a long, happy life.”  “They are in a better place now.”  “We don’t need to be sad, we can be happy they are no longer suffering/”. And, often, other religiously inspired cliches.  But Grandma wasn’t even 70, I’d never gotten to know her the way I’d have liked, and having her taken away so abruptly stunned me.  It was the first time I experienced the “It’s not fair!” response to losing someone at the core of my being…and that feeling has never left.

Part of me still feels pangs of regret at not taking more initiative to talk with her, though my reason tells me I was young and it wasn’t as easy then.  I sent her a letter once, with pictures from a pageant I’d won.  She’d kept it, because when she died they gave it back to me.

She loved roses and had bushes of them in her back garden.  I have a happy memory of my first visit to England, when I was five, playing back there with her, my dad, and my brother.

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She spoiled us!  Upon walking in the door when my dad took me over for a week when I was eight, she handed me a bag of (British) smarties (not to be confused with the American).  He said something like, “Mum!  That will spoil her dinner!”  And she probably said, “I don’t care!  I’m her grandma.”

I remember her making me fish sticks and peas and making me sit at the tiny table in her kitchen.  I’m vegetarian now, and I long ago stopped liking fish sticks (except, maybe I’d like them if they were English), but that memory always makes me want to go cook myself a replica meal…just for the memory.

Before leaving the house on outings with my dad, she’d always give me a few pounds and tell me, “Make sure your father doesn’t take them from you!”  I accumulated quite the collection, leading to another hilarious family story of my uncle offering me cash for the pile of coins I was carrying around.  I actually think I would have made out better taking the cash, but I didn’t understand that at the time and started to cry, thinking he was trying to take my money.

She knew how to put the fear in us: “If I have to come upstairs…”

The one time my cousin and I stayed with her together, we thought (perhaps imagined) we heard her walking up the stairs…it was like a scene from a movie: madly turning off the light, leaping into bed, and not saying another word the rest of the night.

She was German.  She was authentically proud and self-reliant.  She loved her family.

Whenever I go to England I miss her.  When I see women around her age, I wish they were she.  I’d like nothing more than to visit her, share a cup of tea, walk around town, and get to know her better, especially as an adult.  I’ll never understand why I didn’t get the chance to know her, my own grandma, better on this earth.  I think I’ll forever feel this hole in my heart and its accompanying ache.  But, I proudly bear her name as my middle name, and I know, wherever I go, whomever and whatever I look at are seen with her blue eyes.

Here’s to ten years.  I love and miss you, still and always.

Shakespeare and Leadership: The Power of Art

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**A belated post about a wonderful day that has evolved into an incredible blessing and opportunity in my life.**

One Friday in August I walked into my house with a huge smile on my face, excited to tell my husband all about my day at the American Shakespeare Center One-Day Leadership Program.  If a handful of my favorite things, including The Taming of the Shrew, could all be tossed into a “day creator”, that was that Friday.

It started by opening one of the ASC’s e-blasts (I learned months ago that it is beneficial to open theirs) back in July.  They announced the program, along with two scholarships being offered by the Community Foundation of the Blue Ridge.  I applied and found out the Monday before (also my first day of my seventh round of chemo shot treatments) that they had awarded one to me!

I was elated!  One of the burdens I’ve felt while fighting and recovering from cancer is the gap that it inevitably places on my resume.  This was an opportunity to stay relevant and learn about leadership in the workplace through the arts (an ideal hybridization)!  My one problem was navigating how to get my chemo shot and not miss the workshops, if possible.  After some conversations, and a wonderfully obliging nurse and pharmacist, we came up with a plan and it went like clockwork–I missed nothing!

The entire day, from start to finish, was amazing.  During the first session I considered how different professional development events are in 2018 compared to, say, the 90s.  For instance, we began our first workshop with a conversation about awareness of our bodies and meditation, which was followed by a body scan meditation.  In my opinion, workplaces that acknowledge and understand the importance of whole-person well-being are light years ahead of those that ignore it.

Moving throughout the day, we had the opportunity to hear excerpts from Shakespeare and discuss the way speech and body posture can communicate so much in any environment, but especially a professional one, where you want to be conscientious about what you convey to your colleagues.

One of the biggest components was preparing our statements based on something pertinent to our jobs/lives.  There was clear improvement from our first-draft presentations to our final presentations, after being critiqued by members of the education staff/ASC actors.  While only one day, I was able to see marked improvement in my fellow participants, and one even said he could see himself enjoying acting, though he had never before considered it.

Of course, my favorite part of the day (and the most unexpected) was getting to perform a short scene from The Taming of the Shrew.  One of, if not, my favorite play, it was a dream-come-true (that I didn’t know I had) to work on staging the scene and performing it on the Blackfriars’ stage.  We did not memorize the lines, but read from scripts prepared the way Shakespeare would have passed them out–with cue lines and then our specific lines, but not everyone’s.  This required unique collaboration, because we had to see what each person’s lines said to see what kind of stage direction we were given for acting and interacting with each other.  It is a complex and detailed process that only raises my respect for the actors at the American Shakespeare Center who work so hard to bring such incredible performances to their audiences.

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When it was all said and done, I was exhausted—but I made it, learned immensely, and felt more alive than I had in…months, at least.  I can’t get over how lucky I am to live in a town with such a powerhouse in the theatre world.  I mean, within walking distance from my house is the only replica of The Globe Theatre in the world—that’s pretty amazing.

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Being an enthusiastic, all-in kind of person, I immediately inquired about volunteering.  They said yes.  And, now I get to work on the most amazing project that is letting me use skill sets that have sat idle too long.  It feels wonderful to have a project to work on outside of my home, to contribute to something meaningful, that I care about, and from which I am genuinely learning, too.  (I’ll share more about that another time…maybe.)

I am grateful.  Though less than pleasant circumstances brought me to live in Staunton, it is a wonderful town with so much to offer in the way of arts and culture.

Now, because I can’t talk about all this Shakespeare and not share…PLEASE watch the video below and discover the brilliance and hilarity of Upstart Crow.  If you are a Shakespeare lover, you’ll find this series right up your alley.

First watch this…

Then watch this…

Let Us Choose Peace

fullsizeoutput_f64Grainy shot from my trip to China–an incredible experience!

Today is the International Day of Peace.  I was excited weeks ago when I read it in my calendar, especially because the healing writing group I am involved with meets today.

The concept of “international peace” is simultaneously a fantasy that seems attainable, while also being something we can never touch.  Over the past week, peace has been in my face—or rather, the lack of it.  My heart is filled with sorrow at the hardness of humans against other humans, for differences that should bring us together.  Instead our governments, many media sources, propaganda, and our own prejudices divide us.

Two days ago I listened to a podcast by The Corbett Report about the lies that started the war in Afghanistan.  Last night, my husband and I watched some more of a documentary we’ve been viewing about Israel and how the United States gives carte blanche loyalty to a country committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.  9/11 recently passed, and I was again reminded of the millions of people affected by the United States choosing (even possibly orchestrating the events) to go to war for geopolitical reasons (i.e. greed).

This week you may have seen a woman from CodePink interrupting a presentation on the Iran Missile Program.  She spoke clearly, even while they tried to deter her from speaking out in support of the citizens of Iran who are constantly being hurt by decisions made by the United States government.

Peace.  We all seek it.  We all desire it.  We want it…for ourselves.  However, how many of us want it for the people we perceive as our enemies?  I say perceive, because statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be stung by a bee and die than die from a terrorist attack.  I say perceive, because if you follow social media accounts of travelers in the Middle East (where so many westerners base their fear) you would see incredible hospitality, people having fun, the most delicious food you can imagine, and a culture that cares.

That is the difference between people and governments.

When will we, as humans, stand up to the partisan politics that continue to wreak havoc on our WORLD?  My citizenship does not make me blind to the beauty and the atrocities around the globe.  I consider myself a citizen of the world.  I cherish what I have learned from my travels abroad and my chance meetings with internationals in the countries where I have resided.

Peace requires a change in our mentalities.  It requires us to remember and acknowledge the humanity in each one of us.  It forces me to remember the love I have for the person who says hateful things about other people I love.  It teaches me that through education peace has a greater chance of attainability because when people know something it can change their perspective.

Today, and every day, let’s choose peace—a peace that comes with well reasoned ideologies and process to create something better than we have ever experienced.  Something that goes beyond what we can fathom.  Think outside the box.  Imagine what can happen if we fight for peace and stop creating war!

Let us choose peace.