December 3, 2010

Just some thoughts

I just have a lot of things going through my head right now and would like to share them :)

1. Our perception of beauty. I had this discussion with a friend who is going through some hard times in life right now and it really irked me. Have you ever noticed how Hollywood has shaped our perceptions of what is beautiful or handsome? For a girl to be considered beautiful, she needs a fake tan, hourglass figure, she needs to look anorexic, have big boobs, and blonde hair. For a guy to be considered handsome, he needs to have a 6 pack, decent muscle tone and definition, fake tan, dark hair, light eyes. Am I the only person bothered by this? Unfortunately it's the world we live in and there's not much we can do about it. Most men will always think Pamela Lee (or whatever her name is now) is drop dead sexy, and most women will always think Johnny Depp is drop dead sexy. Thank you Hollywood for defining pretty for us. The song "More Beautiful You" by Jonny Diaz comes to mind here...
    "Little girl fourteen flippin' through a magazine, says she wants to look that way.
     But her hair isn't straight, her body isn't fake, and she's always felt overweight.
     Well little girl fourteen, I wish that you could see that beauty is within your heart.
     You were made with such care, your skin, your body, and your hair are perfect
     just the way they are...
     There could never be a more beautiful you! Don't buy the lies, disguises, and
     hoops they make you jump through. You were made to fill a purpose, that only
     you can do. So there could never be a more beautiful you."

I just wish that we all could realize this. The way Hollywood has skewed our perceptions of what people need to look like is disgusting. Barbie dolls don't help much either because they are the IDEAL beautiful. I have heard 7 year old girls say, "I wish I could look like Barbie! Then I'd have lots of boyfriends!". Is that what you want to hear your 7 year old daughter say? How about your 5 year old daughter? Yeah, it starts earlier now. I don't remember caring about my weight or anything like that until somewhere in middle school. Now girls in first and second grades are saying they want to have boyfriends and all those other things that they shouldn't even be thinking about. It really disgusts me sometimes...

Okay, that's the end of the "beauty" rant. Next rant, taking things for granted.

2. What do you take for granted? The stove that cooks your food? The door that you lock at night to keep people out of your house? The bed you sleep in? The blanket you cover up with? The comfort of your own home? The people you haven't talked to in years that you used to be close friends with?

How about we ask a different question. What should you take for granted? NOTHING. Nothing should ever be taken for granted. I know I am guilty of this, and many of us are. We don't take the time to stop and think about how life would be if we didn't have all these things that we take for granted.

How would you feed your family if you didn't have a stove? How would you protect your family if you didn't have a door that locked? Where would you sleep without a bed? How would you stay comfortable without a blanket? Where would you go if you didn't have a home? How would you feel if you found out someone that you were mad at because of something they did in middle school died and you never got to reconcile things with them?

I am going at this more because of the homeless people that I see and hear about on a daily basis. These people don't always know where they are going to sleep at night. They don't know if they are going to wake up in the morning. They don't know if someone is going to come and take the few things that they own in the middle of the night. They don't know how they are going to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer. They don't know where they can "live" while they are homeless. They have NOTHING. What really irritates me about how people talk about the homeless also has something to do with the paper that I wrote earlier. Blaming the victim. That's right. I hear social workers and other "social welfare" type people say things like, "He's homeless because he's an alcoholic..." "He's homeless because he's addicted to drugs..." "He's homeless because he's lazy..." But what I don't hear is, "He's homeless because he didn't have the support he needed to get off drugs and turn his life around.." All we do is "blame the victim" by saying that it is the homeless person's fault that they are homeless. That's not always true and we need to realize that. Maybe Person A is homeless because she got laid off from her job, her unemployment ran out, she couldn't afford her mortgage. Maybe when Person A became homeless she lost everything she had. Her husband, her children, her dog, her cat, her fish, her bird, her soft, warm bed, her blankets, her pillow, her security, her safety, her life. Her. Life. She lost all of that stuff that she took for granted and maybe now she is too depressed and too ashamed to seek the help she needs. We as people, as christians, as non-christians, as people who have hearts, need to get past all of that and find out if there is anything we can do to help these people. I'm not saying to bring them into your home if you're not comfortable with that. I'm not saying to give them $100. Buy them a soda at McDonalds. Or even just take them a bottle of water. And as you hand it to them, just say, "I was wondering if there is anything else I can do to help you." If they say no, then it's whatever. You can't force them to let you help them.

I don't think I have EVER posted a blog like this or been this deep in thought at 11 at night, but there was NO WAY I was going to bed with all of this in my head. Something told me that someone needs to read this and that my time spent on typing this blog will be beneficial to someone other than myself.

This holiday season, I challenge each and every one of you to make an attempt at helping at least one homeless person. Females always need those female things that we ALLLL know about (and take for granted). It may seem a bit awkward, but can you imagine how much a homeless woman would appreciate them? I'm sure hygiene products would be helpful for any homeless person as well. Give them a can of soup (that has the tab on top that you open it with, they probably don't have can openers) and a bottle of water. They might be able to make that can of soup last them an entire day.

If you're REALLY feeling good about helping some homeless people, go to Eder park behind Good Will in Elkton, right off of 213, on ANY day at 4:00 p.m. and help feed the homeless that live in those woods. Take some hats, gloves, and scarves to hand out. Take some books for them to read. Take some crackers for them to take back to their tents or whatever else they might have for shelter there. There is a whole community of homeless people right outside our doors and I bet you drive by at least one of these people every single day and don't even think about how far they walk in a day.

Just take time out of your life to think about all the things you have, and try to imagine life without them. Stop taking things for granted, open your heart and your mind, and help one homeless person this holiday season and see how it makes you feel. I know every time I have helped a homeless person, I have almost broken down in tears because of how good I felt. I've been on the verge of tears the entire time I've been typing this blog.

I think my keyboard hates me now. Please take this blog seriously and not just as me "venting" about things. Help a homeless person, realize that you are beautiful no matter how you look. God made you the way you are for a reason and God doesn't make mistakes. Stop taking things for granted, think about someone other than yourself, and give with an open heart and open mind to someone in need and help them enjoy this holiday whether they have a home or not.

The end.

A paper I had to write

This is kind of a rough draft of this assignment, but I just wanted to share this. It is a paper I had to write about "blaming the victim" in reference to domestic violence.

Sarah Dillard
“Blaming the Victim”

                Blaming the victim is a major problem in our society today and has been for a long time. In the late 1970’s through the 1980’s there was an infamous case of a man named Joel Steinberg who abused his girlfriend and two illegally “adopted” children. When one of the children ends up dead, Joel and his girlfriend are both originally charged as criminals. What the detectives failed to see was that his girlfriend, Hedda Nussbaum, was a victim. She was afraid of Steinberg and what he would do to her if she told anyone what had happened to little Lisa.
                The short version of what happened is this: Joel gave Lisa a devastating blow to the back of the head that knocked her unconscious. He carried Lisa to the bathroom and lay her down on the floor then went out to dinner with some friends. Joel told Hedda that he would get Lisa up when he got home. Hedda was abused to the point that she had broken ribs and she had to ask permission to eat. She was afraid to call 9-1-1 because she didn’t want to show distrust or a lack of loyalty to Joel. Instead, she would check on Lisa in the bathroom and make sure she was still breathing. She never called 9-1-1. When Joel got home later that night, he went in to check on Lisa and she stopped breathing shortly after. Joel called 9-1-1 and had Lisa rushed to the hospital. By the time Lisa got to the hospital she was already brain dead and was put on life support. Lisa was taken off of life support and died immediately two days later. At this point, Joel was charged with 2nd degree murder and it was shortly after this that the prosecutors realized that Hedda was in the same position as little Lisa had been. She was being abused and was afraid to call 9-1-1. Hedda was granted immunity for her testimony against Joel.
                Society likes to blame victims of abuse for their abuse because they don’t leave their abusers. The fact of the matter is that when someone is being abused, they hope that the abuse will stop. They hope that their abuser will change. They realize that the beatings are sporadic and they just “deal” with the beatings. Abused women sometimes stay with their abusers due to a lack of resources. In all honesty, in New York City (Manhattan specifically) there are currently at least 20 domestic violence shelters in New York City. Unfortunately, I am an unable to find out how many there were 30 years ago. Victims of domestic violence also stay with their abusers is a lack of finances. Before Nussbaum was abused, she was a children’s book author and illustrator. She wrote two children’s books and had great potential. Unfortunately, she was fired shortly after the abuse began due to her shoddy attendance at work; granted, her lack of attendance was due to the abuse. Since she was fired from her job, she did not have her own income and had no money to be able to support herself without Steinberg. Another thing that may have kept her there was the children. She wanted to be able to comfort the children and she knew that escaping with the children wasn’t a possibility so instead of leaving the children to deal with the abuse on their own, she stayed with them to comfort them when the abuse happened. There are many reasons that an abused woman stays with her abuser and, unfortunately, society doesn’t see many of these reasons unless it is a person who has been in the situation before.
                Nussbaum was blamed for her abuse because she didn’t leave. She was blamed in part for the death of Lisa because she didn’t call 9-1-1. She was blamed for the abuse of the baby in the house as well because she never called anyone. The reality is that Nussbaum was a victim herself and was afraid, may not have had the resources she needed, and wanted to stay with the children. Nussbaum had nothing to do with the death of Lisa. She did what she could to help her after Steinberg hit her. However, at the same time, Nussbaum didn’t want to do anything that would anger Steinberg and make him abuse her or either of the children again that night.
                Blaming the victim is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. It seems like the only way to get people to not “blame the victim” for their abuse and neglect is to educate them, or for a person to be in the situation for themselves. This is a very difficult social problem that needs to be dealt with and fixed. On average, 1,500 women are murdered every year as a result of domestic violence. This should not even be a statistic and unfortunately when most people see this, they will say, “Why didn’t she leave?”