Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The True Freedom of Speech

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

–The United States Constitution

A few weeks ago, I was laying in bed while scrolling through posts on my Facebook feed. I watched a couple political videos about how bad Trump is, read a few posts written by my more conservative relatives about how Islam is a violent religion, and then to top it all off I watched a few videos of puppies trying to do cartwheels. The last one was definitely the best way to end the night.

And then I got a text from someone I knew. Let's call him Joey.

He was drunk off his ass, that much was clear. But it wasn't the drunkenness that bothered me. What bothered me was the video he sent.

Joey and the group of all-white male friends of his were standing in a circle, jumping around and chanting, "Fuck the niggers, fuck the niggers!"

The video lasted ten seconds.

Joey is 16 years old.

Last night, I read an article about hate speech. More specifically, an article about a man named Milo Yiannopoulos who's mission is to promote hate speech. He's even said, "I hope to offend every reader." His reason: it is his right to be able to say whatever he wants, and he wants to encourage people to do the same.

After the election of Donald Trump, there has been a surge of people moving away from political-correctness. I know people who admire Trump because he isn't politically correct all the time, because he is unafraid to speak his mind.

Legally speaking, you don't have to be politically correct. But legal or not, why is it okay (I'd go as far to say that it's becoming more socially acceptable) to say things like "fuck the niggers"? What sort of backward nation are we living in where people think it's alright to say that?

I've focused this post a lot on the statement Joey made, but it doesn't stop there.

I'm a quarter Asian, and people have called me a chink. I have Muslim friends and when I hear the term "towelhead" it hurts. My boyfriend is Jewish, and I know people who use the word "kike". I have LGBT friends and know people who say "faggot".

In America, we have the ability to say whatever we want without legal consequences. I am a firm believer in this right. I would go as far to say that the first amendment is probably the most important of them all, it's what gives us power over the government.

But is there point when it can go too far? Just because it's legal does not make it right, or okay.

Yes, it can go too far. This right which gives us so much good is also the source of so much hate.

We have to realize that this is not just about being politically correct or your right to the first amendment. It's about being a good person. It's about treating people the way they should be treated: as human beings with wants and needs and fears no different from your own.

The true freedom of speech is not saying whatever comes into your head. It's not about hate speech. The true freedom of speech is also about being able to hold back. Just because I can doesn't mean I should. Political correctness is not an infringement on your right to free speech, it's a choice to be a better person.

So instead of using your power of free speech to make disgusting, hateful remarks, put it to good use. The way Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Colin Kaepernick and Tank Man did. Use your freedom of speech to make the world a better, less hateful place.

Choose to be better.

With a hopeful heart,

Friday, May 13, 2016

Violence In The Media

"Nothing good ever comes of violence."
–Martin Luther

Does violence in the media make children more prone to violence?

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This is a question asked by psychologists since Albert Bandura's 1961 Bobo doll experiment. In this experiment, adults were told to act angrily and hit a Bobo doll in front of very young children. Before leaving the room, the adults placed a box of toys just out of reach of the child. When the adults were gone, the children became frustrated, and eventually hit the Bobo doll when they became angry.

This begs the question: does violence in the media make modern children more prone to violence?

Violence on TV and How It Can Affect Your Children

On one side of the argument, scientists say that exposing children to violence at an early age can make them more violent later in life. An article titled Violence on TV and How It Can Affect Your Children in The Huffington Post claims:

"children seeing too much violence on TV are more likely to be argumentative, as they have dispensed with the slow caution of inhibitors. These children act out in class and are more likely to be the class bully. Since they seem to be less patient than their counterparts, studies show that children who watch too much violence on TV appear to be more unwilling to cooperate, and delay gratification. Therefore, they seem to demonstrate a strong sense of entitlement."

The Indiana University School of Medicine decided to test this. They examined young men who were exposed to violent media, and after a week of playing violent video games, there were visible alterations in the MRI brain scans of the men. (Note: Though there were changes in the MRI scans, it is unclear what the changes actually did.)

Studies from The Macquarie University Children and Families Research Centre show that children who watch violent movies are:

"more likely to view the world as an unsympathetic, malicious and scary place, and that this stimulates aggression. It also suggests children are more likely to exhibit competitive behavior while becoming desensitized to violence."

Is this true?

Is all of this true? Does this information prove that children are more prone to violence when they are exposed to violence in the media at a young age? Is all of the violence shown in the media contributing to a more violent world? Do we need to protect children from all this?


Despite all of the violence shown in the media, we are actually living in the most peaceful era ever seen in human history. Since the Medieval era, violence has slowly subsided over time, and has recently taken a nosedive.

In the age of the Nazi, Darfur, Rwanda genocides (and a few others), the World Wars, the War on Terror, the conflict of the Palestinians and Israelis, and school shootings, a "currently less violent world" may sound incredibly ridiculous.

And yet, this is truly the case. In fact, men and women in the United States and Europe have only around a 2% chance of being killed by another person, opposed to the 60% chance of being killed by another person 500 or more years ago. What's most surprising, is that these statistics include all of the deaths in both World Wars.

How is this possible?

In the Middle Ages, if you stole a loaf of bread, you could have your tongue cut out. Think about the days of ancient Rome, where gladiators fought to the death to entertain the public. Today, those things would be considered inhumane and terrible. Back then, it was modern life.

Back then, these acts of violence would not be broadcast to the nation. No one would draw such mass attention to horrific ways of punishment or entertainment. Maybe some people spoke out against it, but they didn't have anything like CNN.

The truth is, violence seems bigger and more prevalent nowadays because of the media. Media makes violence a very big deal. You hear about ten deaths in an earthquake. A school shooting. A murder. When we (the public) hear about the details on these horrific events, when we read the backstories on the people who were wronged, it becomes personal. We pick a side, and in turn, we feel personally wronged too. The media makes these acts of violence felt by the nation. It makes people feel like it's too much. And they're right. Any violence is too much violence.

But it is less than it has ever been.


Yes, violence in the media is very disturbing. But statistics point out that our world is less violent than it has ever been. This doesn't mean that being exposed to media's portrayal of violence has no effect on a child, but if it does, it does very little to change a child's behavior. Shielding your child from violence in the media will not make them a less violent person.

So what does cause violence?

The real answer to that question lies within ourselves. What kind of role models will we choose to be for our children? The recipe for a violent person is witnessing or experiencing violence, but not in the media. It is witnessing violence in their own personal lives.

A violent person may watch more violent movies or play more violent video games, but correlation is not causation. Lots of people play violent video games.

My Personal Experience:

According to my friends, past friends, and even people who I don't know very well, I have always been described as gentle. I'm the patient one, the comforting one, the forgiving one. A lot of people have described me as very sweet and innocent.

So when people find out that I was allowed to watch R rated movies, read books with explicit and violent content, watch the same news stories, and play the violent shoot-em-up video games with my dad since before I can remember, people are very surprised.

Despite all of these things, I have never been a violent person. When I was little, I may have hit or pinched my sister a few times. But that is the extent of it. I am dedicated to love, peace, tolerance, and understanding, and I am setting out on this journey to help do something good for humanity in my lifetime. My parents never treated me like I was a child. They spoke to me as an equal, as long as I acted like an adult. I learned important values in life, not from the media, but from my parents.

To put an end to violence, people must be exposed to it. You can't fight an enemy you don't understand.

The media is very easy to blame for all the problems of the world. But when children act out violently, it comes from his or her parents, or his or her friends. It comes from how, where, and when they grew up. Do the parents listen to the child, or does the child feel alienated? Do the parents try to understand what their child is going through? All of these things play a very important role in children.

Whether children see violence in the media or not, the true determinant of whether a child will be violent or not is us.

So be the best you can be.

Your children are watching.



Huffington Post: Violence on TV and How It Can Affect Your Children
Psychology Today: Violence, The Media And Your Brain
Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence
Livestrong: What Are the Causes of Violent Behavior in Children

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Breakup Letter

Dear Hate,

I don't really know how to say this, but I think it is time we parted ways. This isn't easy for me. You have always kind of been there for me, especially in times of great distress. I know you came into my life to protect me. You build up walls for me whenever I get hurt, and you always give me someone to blame for problems in my life.

You have done a lot for me, but the truth is, everything you do for me really just makes things worse.

When things are bad, you cloud my judgement. You make me say things I don't mean, things that I would never say to anyone. In the heat of the moment, you give me delusions instead of solutions. You make me irrational and cruel.

As much as this will hurt you, I have been trying to get rid of you for quite some time. I have been trying to stay away from you more and more, but I keep running in to you now and then. There was a while when I didn't mind it. There were times when I thought I needed you, even relied on you to help me get through times here and there, especially when things were hard. But the truth is, you're the one who needs me.

You are a parasite, and I won't be your host anymore.

You feed off of my stress, my anger, even my fear. When I am with you, you take away everything in me that is good, and I have had enough.

I'm done with your intolerance. Done with your ignorance, and refusal to understand where other people are coming from. You are the cause of every wrongdoing throughout all of time. You are the face behind the mask of evil.

I am done with the fear you place in my heart. You tell me to build walls around my heart so that I don't get hurt. Yes, I've been hurt and I have every right to fear. I have good reasons for wanting to listen to you, but these walls, though they may keep pain away, they would also make it impossible to let love in.

Also, the constant blame you place on other people isn't right. Sure, it makes things easier for me. It makes me feel like I did nothing wrong. It makes me feel better about myself, but it also gets me nowhere. How can I possibly improve when you blame the problem on someone else?

When you are with me, you leave no room for anything else. Hate, I do not hate you. You think you know what's best for me, and you try to help, I know you really do. You keep me safe from pain, from heartbreak, from sorrow. You keep me safe by keeping me in my comfort zone. And yet, through all this, you deny me the chance to actually live. Because in the end…

Life is a mess of joy, of sorrow. Good and evil, and everything in between. Of love, heartbreak and more love. It's taking chances even when I'm scared, it's being brave and exploring. It is a search for knowledge and meaning in this world that never seems to make sense. It's about taking leaps of faith, aiming for the sky, the moon, the sun, the stars. And even when I miss, when I crash land in a heap and I am broken, I will not come crawling back to you. Because life is about getting back up again, putting myself back together even when I think I can't.

You have no place in my heart, and I deserve so much better.

I pray we never meet again, but if we do, stay away from me. You are not welcome, and I will get a restraining order against you if you start stalking me. I'm sorry, you're just really not healthy for me, or anyone, or the world.

As I said, this isn't easy. But that's the point. Life is hard, and doing the right thing is hard. I choose to love instead.

We're done.

With love,

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Eating Disorder

My best friend of six years was unintentionally killing me.

That's a strong opening sentence, but now that I reread it, it's not entirely true. My best friend of six years was causing me a lot of stress, and anxiety. It wasn't her fault at all, she didn't mean it or know it, but the stress our friendship was inflicting on me was killing me.

I always had problems with stress, anxiety and a bit of depression. Whenever I would feel anxious or depressed, eating would become a very difficult task. (My post on anxiety goes into a little more depth about problems anxiety can cause.)

Anxiety is a fight or flight response, and whenever I got anxious, it would take over and I would throw up. It wasn't intentional, but it would happen all the time. First, it would happen only when it came to really big things.

My best friend, I'll call her Olivia for the sake of anonymity, would have breakdowns a lot and consider suicide. This was extremely stressful, but over some time I was able to recover a bit. But then, it started happening when things didn't even matter.

Olivia and some other friends would want me to go to a football game. I would be excited and happy, but I couldn't keep food down. In fact, on days when I knew I was going to be busy, I would eat as little as possible so that I would have nothing to actually throw up when it was time to leave.

According to Anxiety Centre:

"Part of the stress [anxiety] response includes suppressing digestion so that the majority of the body's resources are made available for emergency action. When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly and easily from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi-emergency readiness state. This semi-emergency readiness state can adversely affect normal stomach and digestive system function, which can cause all sorts of stomach and digestive related maladies, such as nausea and even vomiting."

At the time, I didn't know this science-y part about anxiety and nausea and vomiting, but the effects it had on me were drastic. Basically, my body was stuck in a semi-emergency state, which caused a lot of digestive problems and of course, not eating made things worse.

One grey January morning in 2015, I stepped on the scale and I read the horrifying number.

I was 18 years old, 5 feet and 4 inches, and 79 pounds.

I was rushed to the doctor and two weeks later I was admitted into a day treatment center for eating disorders.

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I was diagnosed with an eating disorder called ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). I had no idea what it was, or even what it meant really. I didn't like the name ARFID either, it sounded like the name of a rabid dog. Besides my weight, I didn't feel like anything was wrong with me.

As it turns out, my body was eating itself.

I spent four months in treatment, and a few more months in an out-patient program. The basic treatment plan was just to make me, and everyone in my group eat.

The first few days were the loneliest, but I don't think I could name a day that wasn't as hard. I was so alone, no one else in my group was suffering from ARFID, not that I knew of. Everyone else was suffering from bulimia or anorexia.

I regret to say that I was ignorantly opinionated about the suffering of everyone else in my group at first. Because my eating disorder had nothing to do with body image, eating disorders like anorexia were confusing to me. I would see the girls in my groups, and they were all so beautiful. I couldn't help but thinking, why can't they just get it in their head that they're beautiful? Can't they see they're destroying their body? Why can't they just stop…?

The answers to those questions are a lot more complicated than a simple yes or no.

The reason I'm talking about this is because I never was close to someone who had an eating disorder before I went through treatment. But some of you might know people who have eating disorders, or you might have one yourself.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to have an eating disorder. Before getting to know such wonderful people in treatment, I thought being anorexic was a choice. That someone would wake up one day, and think, I think I'm fat so I should starve myself. But that isn't the case at all.

The mirror lies.

For the people with body-image related eating disorders, the reflection that stares back is a lie. And with every purge or every skipped meal, that distorted image in the mirror only gets worse.

For everyone struggling, don't struggle in silence. You're not alone.

Love you all <3


#SpreadTheLove #Awareness #MUGTE