Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bernie Who?

I love this headline: Bernie Sanders just easily won the New Hampshire primary. It's a remarkable achievement.

It is remarkable. Almost unbelievable. I'm flabbergasted.

I'm not used to politicians I whole-heartedly support actually winning! It's amazing how progressive our country has become in just a few short years. I remember back in 2008, when Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Dennis Kucinich were competing for the Democratic nomination, I actually intended to vote for Kucinich, but I changed my mind once I got to the caucus and saw only one other supporter in the room full of hundreds of people. The vote was close between Clinton and Obama, so I felt like it was more pragmatic to vote for Obama. I admire Hillary Clinton, but she's too much of a war hawk for me. So's Obama, but, you know, so are most people, and at least he was an out-spoken critic of the Iraq War while Hillary Clinton voted in support of the Iraq War while she was Senator of New York.

I recall telling some friends about my decision to vote pragmatically instead of idealistically and they asked me who I'd have voted for if I had the luxury of voting idealistically. I said, "Bernie Sanders!"

"Bernie Who?"

"Never mind. He'll never run. And if he did, he'd never win," I said. "He's a Democratic Socialist! He'd never get Americans to vote for him!"

I've never been happier to have been so wrong. Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary today! And it is remarkable.

Back in 2008, when I'd fantasize about Bernie running for President, it seemed like such a long shot. Bernie wasn't even a United States Senator yet, but a Representative from Vermont. He'd been the mayor of Birmingham or Burlington or something like that. Living in Kansas myself, the only reason I'd heard of him was because I'd see him on Bill Maher and I respected everything that came out of his mouth. You can't say that about too many of Bill Maher's guests, or Bill Maher himself for that matter. He's one of those brilliant but arrogant people I don't really like but I like how they think. He's so irritating.

But not Bernie. Bernie's the best. He speaks and I nod my head. Yes. Yes! This guy gets it. And evidently lots of other people across this country are starting to get Bernie. It's so awesome to see Bernie get the recognition he deserves. It's so awesome to get the opportunity to vote for a person I truly believe in after so many years of settling for second best.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, thinks young women are too boy crazy to think for themselves

I hate it when my heroes fuck up. I know, I know. They're human. They're human and prone to making mistakes, like all of us. It sucks that, because they're in the spotlight, their fuckups are more magnified, and so they seem worse than the fuckups you and I get involved in. As a role model, they should know better, we complain. It really would be awful to be famous and have to watch what you say all the time since you basically live with a microphone in your face. But when you're paid to say intelligent things into a microphone, and you blow it, you deserve to be called out on it.

Like Gloria Steinem. Yes she's one of my heroes. But, come on. She blew it. You'd think someone who's spent her career fighting for feminist causes would be a bit more open minded about young women's abilities to think for themselves. Instead, she acts like young women are too boy crazy to think for themselves. As if young women only think with their vaginas. Look at what Steinem said to Bill Maher on his show the other night when he brought up the fact that younger women tend to prefer Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton:
“Men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, women get more radical because they lose power as they age...And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie...” 
Huh? What? Did Gloria Steinem really just say young women are too boy crazy to care about politics and to think for themselves? So disappointing.

I'm a woman, and I'm a feminist, and I support Bernie Sanders. Not because he's a man, but in spite of the fact that he's a man. I support Bernie Sanders, regardless of his gender, because I think his policies would benefit all humans. Yes, as a feminist, I'm thrilled to see a woman running for president, and I'll vote for her in November if she beats Bernie in the primaries. I'm certainly not going to waste my vote by staying home when I can at least use it as a vote against Trump or Cruz or whoever else wins the Republican nomination. But, as a woman and a feminist who thinks for herself, I'd much prefer to vote for Bernie. Why? Because Bernie gets it. I've been following him for years now, and he's one of the few politicians who seems to understand the root cause of many of our nations' problems: greed. Hillary Clinton has many fine policies, but one thing she doesn't seem to get is that the greedy Wall Street bankers and their legislative cronies are making it harder and harder for everyday people like you and me to get by. I'd prefer to vote for Bernie because I recognize that voting for a woman whose gender matches mine but whose policies do not align with mine is voting against my best interests.

Ironically, Hillary Clinton, a woman, represents the status quo in this race. Bernie Sanders, an elderly man, represents change, which is what our federal government needs if we don't want to end up like Rome.

Being a civic minded adult is hard, whether you're young or old. Politics and elections are complex. Everything is not black and white, male and female, good vs evil. Let's give young women the respect they deserve. Let's acknowledge that young women are quite capable of thinking for themselves. Honestly, if you're a woman, and you're voting for Hillary Clinton simply because of her gender and not her policies, that's not using your brain, Sister.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Y'all Qaeda's LaVoy Finicum shot and killed by authorities, disqualified from Foster Parent of the Year award

Having trouble making a profit off your cows? Follow the path of Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum and become a foster parent. The government will pay you, and in return you get free teenage ranch hands!

"According to a 2010 tax filing, Catholic Charities paid the family $115,343 to foster children in 2009...'That was my main source of income,' Finicum said. 'My ranch, well, the cows just cover the costs of the ranch.'"

Finicum is, or was, a leader in the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, part of a militant anti-government group mocked by many as "Y'all Qaeda." He was shot and killed by law enforcement officers Tuesday night, while other militants in his group were arrested.

While I mean no disrespect toward the recently departed--ideally his standoff with police should have ended in his arrest and not his death--I feel pretty confident in saying that LaVoy Finicum is a scumbag. Was a scumbag. Children, human beings, are not supposed to be a "source of income". Yes, it costs money to take care of foster kids, but the money is supposed to go toward their needs. Not a way to earn a buck or two. Not a way to get free help on an otherwise unprofitable ranch.

As a pacifist I feel compelled to wish peace upon all people. Even scumbags who abuse their power to turn a profit. Rest in peace, LaVoy Finicum. May your former foster kids find peace here on earth, something you were unable to do.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Katie Quotes 1-21-16

Katie: "I really like your robe, Mom."

Me: "Oh yeah?"

Katie: "Yeah. It's nice and soft and fuzzy up here, and it's got this big hole and it's kinda worn over here. It's kind of like, your life."

Me: "Yeah?"

Katie: "Yeah. Like the soft and fuzzy part up here is like when you and Daddy got married and when I was born, and this kinda worn out hole over here is like, how you had some horrible times in your childhood. But you got over those and you stitched them together."

Me: "Wow, you are such an insightful child."

Katie: "You wanna hear my theory about Minecraft?"

Me: "Yeah."

Katie: "Minecraft is not just a cool game. It's a therapist game. Like, if your best friend doesn't want to be friends anymore, you can go blow stuff up in Minecraft, or like if you feel like 'oh, I'll never do anything' you can create all these buildings and stuff in Minecraft."

The wisdom of a nine-year-old.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Free download!

Free download!

I self-published a book of essays about my experiences with PTSD. Feel free to share it with anyone you think would benefit from it. Download and read it here: http://bit.ly/ThisAmbiguousLife

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Grow Yourself

Killer Mike to Stephen Colbert:
"...find a child...who's a minority, who doesn't look like you, not of the same religion, not of the same background, help that child matriculate into college. Help them by being a Big Brother or Big Sister, help them by mentoring them...teach them the path you were taught to help them become a successful human being. What you're gonna get out of that experience is another human being that's taking full advantage of an educational system that can help them and their community, but more than that, it grows you as a human being..."
I shared my first post of this blog on July 29, 2011. I'd decided to name my new blog This Ambiguous Life after one of my favorite shows on public radio, This American Life. Mom, who'd been encouraging me to publish my writing since I was a tween, worried that people wouldn't get it. "I had to look up what the word 'ambiguous' means," she said.

I thought it was fitting. Mom doesn't abide murky, complex emotions in life or in her favorite stories. She likes things to be cut and dried. Black or white. Good guy vs. Bad guy. Heroes and Villains. She likes funny and inspirational. Not depressing. Not worrisome. Tidy endings.

Which is totally understandable. It's just not me. I like a little anxiety in my writing. Writing that mimics real life. I like things messy and confusing. I get bored by the same ole thing. I like novels and essays rich in novelty, odd thoughts, plays on words. I love how complicated people are. How full of conflicting emotions we humans are, going through life without a clue. I like my characters to be full of contradictions, with room to grow. To me the unknown is beautiful and worth exploring. I'm not frightened of not knowing, to paraphrase the great physicist Richard Feynman. Of course my blog should have the word "ambiguous" in it.

I was young when Mom started encouraging me to write. Twelve. Just beginning to gain weight again after having starved myself the year before. The doctor had diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa and told Mom to take me to a therapist.

She didn't want to, at first.

Mom is allergic to psychiatry. I don't blame her. She was put into a hospital, against her will, on two separate occasions in the late 1960s where she was administered electroshock therapy. When I was a kid I asked Mom why she was sent to the hospital. It had happened before I was born, but I loved hearing old stories from my family. As the youngest of my mom's five kids--four from her first marriage--and one kid from Dad's first marriage, I grew up listening to my siblings and parents tell "remember that one time" stories that took place within a family that I belonged to, and yet were during a time frame in which I did not yet exist. Stories were how I got to know these people in my life.

"Mom, why did they send you to the hospital?"

"Because I had a nervous breakdown."

"What's a nervous breakdown?"

"It's when you catch your husband cheating with his secretary and you take a Valium and drink one beer and start running down the street, crying, in just your nightgown."

Mom never censored stories. I was the only kid on my block who didn't have parents who regulated what movies and TV shows and books they read. Mom let me consume what I was interested in. If I had any questions, I didn't feel embarrassed or ashamed for asking.

Usually. Although Mom made it clear that I could say anything to her, something happened to me when I was very young that made me mistakenly believe that I had power over my mom's emotions. It messed with my thinking for years. Decades. I'm only now, as a forty-five year old married mother, realizing that my mom is the boss of herself, and that how I live my life and the stories I share with her don't have the power to make her happy or sad. Only she has that power.

Letting go of the idea that you have power over other people is an intensely freeing feeling. I no longer feel responsible for anyone's emotions but my own. I will try to be kind and empathetic, but I will no longer stifle myself or keep secrets from Mom because I'm afraid that my pain will hurt her. My pain is my pain. Mom's pain is her pain.

It's been a long road to this realization. Lots of therapy. Lots of reading self-help books. Lots of journal writing and self-reflection. I suspect no matter where I am in life I'll always be searching for a way to grow.

Mom finally listened to my sister Jenny, begging her to take me to see a therapist. I was eleven. It was 1982. Doctors frowned upon shocking patients into sanity, preferring to talk patients into sanity instead. Cognitive behavior therapy is what the people with the certificates on the walls call it. I call it, wow, someone's interested in hearing my side of the story? You want me to share my secrets?  I won't shrivel up and die, unloved and unlovable, right there in this swivel chair? Mommy won't be sent back to the hospital because my pain is too unbearable for her?

I remember my therapist telling me toward the end of one of our sessions that often she sees clients who are not the ones in the family who need therapy the most. I understood this statement to be a dig at my mom and my dad, that she wished that my parents were open to family therapy. But it also helped me understand, when Mom would tell the story of her nervous breakdowns, that she was far from the maddest person in our crazy clan.

My first therapist helped me a bit. I stopped starving myself, at least. But I never fully got over my body issues and disordered eating until I hit forty, discovered the book Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon, and began rant-writing stories on this blog. Writing has been my best therapist. Sharing painful secrets and talking openly about my pain--recalling how I was subjected to sexual abuse as a young child and forced to go to Weight Watchers in 3rd grade, both risk factors to lifelong depression and instability in general and to anorexia and other eating disorders specifically--has helped me heal. I discovered the best self-help out there is to share my stories freely on this blog.

That was not my goal when I started this blog four and a half years ago. My goal was to get recognition for my writing, to attract a literary agent who would offer me a book deal. My stories would reach people around the world. I'd help people heal. I'd achieve fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, to paraphrase the great Freddie Mercury. That was my goal when I began this blog.

I was mostly handling life OK just before I started this blog. I'd recently turned forty. I had a great job as a full-time Information Specialist at the public library. I was happily married to a great guy who loves me for me. We have a great kid who was getting ready to start kindergarten. Kindergarten! How is it that my kid is growing up so quickly when I don't feel like a grown up myself?

Then something horrible happened. My brother, Pat, died on January 14, 2011. Five years ago, today. Wow, I just realized that. Anniversary dates and emotions are so intricately tied.

My brother's death hit me hard. Dead people make living people turn into such selfish jerks. When our grandpa died when I was just twelve. I remember crying and my mom saying, "It's OK. He's in a better place now. He's no longer in pain." And me, the little selfish jerk, saying, "Yeah, but he'll never get to know me as a grownup."

I was just starting to grow, I thought. Just starting to become myself.

I remember overhearing my first therapist, back when I was eleven, telling my parents that sometimes girls become anorexic when they begin puberty because they're afraid of growing up, and when you starve yourself you lose your breasts and stop menstruating. I was an early developer. Mom made me start wearing a bra in third grade, and shave my armpits by fourth grade, around the same time I first began menstruating. I remember, when I heard my therapist tell my parents this theory, that I was afraid to grow up, thinking, "Huh. It has been nice losing the boobs and no longer having to deal with my period."

But I did want to grow up. Grownups are the bosses of themselves. I wanted to grow up. I just wanted men to stop staring at my tits and women to stop making comments about my big butt and belly. I wanted my brain to grow, just not my body.

But my body continued to grow despite everything. I tried a plethora of diet and exercise regimes in my teens, my twenties, my thirties. Nothing worked. After I "recovered" from anorexia and began eating again, it's as if my body was afraid of ever going back into starvation mode. No matter what kinds of "healthy" foods I'd eat or how little food I ate in general, my body packed on the pounds. Especially after I gave birth to our daughter, Katie, when I was thirty-five, my weight ballooned. At forty, I was the heaviest I'd ever been.

And yet, despite what most doctors and the news media said, I was healthier than I'd ever been. My cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure were all fine. Great, even. I felt energetic, except during spells of depression. I randomly found Dr. Bacon's book, Health at Every Size one day while working at the library. It changed my mind. It helped me understand that our bodies, no matter how big or how small, are complex. We are more than just a division problem. Our health cannot be measured by our BMI.

So, at my fattest, at age forty, I gave up dieting and gained an appreciation of my body. My amazing body which carried our child for nine months, giving birth to the most wonderful human being I've ever known. My amazing body that nourishes my brain, feeding these thoughts and feelings that carry me through each day.  I'm no longer afraid if my body grows. I like to spend my time on my mind.

Just before I began this blog, I was fat and forty--and happy. Then my brother Pat, one of the two people who had sexually abused me as a young child, died of liver failure at the age of forty-nine. As I've said, death brings out our most selfish selves. When Pat died, five years ago to this day, people would say, "It's OK. He's in a better place now. He's no longer in pain." Me, the big selfish jerk, felt like saying, "Yeah, but what about me?"

I stumbled into a deep depression. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I couldn't eat. I couldn't work. I couldn't take care of our kid, the most wonderful human being I've ever known. No matter how hard my amazing husband, Will, tried to cheer me up, I felt miserable.

I visited my therapist, who encouraged me to write about my feelings. I visited my doctor, who encouraged me to cut back my hours at the library so I could focus more time on myself, my family, and my writing.

In July of 2011 I cut my hours at the library from 40 a week to 24. Our daughter, Katie, started kindergarten the following month, so I had free time during the day while Will was at work to focus on my writing.

"Give me six months," I remember saying to Will when I was trying to sell him on the idea of my cutting back hours at the library to focus on my writing. "I'll get an agent by then and be on my way to publishing my first novel."

"Do what you need to do, Babe," is what Will always said.

Six months came and went. By then I'd written two book length manuscripts, a novel and a memoir. I'd sent query letters to literary agents, to no avail.

"People don't like to read depressing stuff. Try to make it a little lighter," Mom would suggest.

"And shorter," Will would suggest. "People like to read a chapter on the john. Anything more than the time it takes a person to take a dump is too much. My advice? Short chapters."

I ignored them both. Instead, I decided to approach my growth as a writer the same way I approached the growth of my waistline. I decided to not worry about it and move on to more important things. I stopped wondering why no one wanted to publish my books. I stopped trying to find a publisher. I stopped caring if I'd die someday without having published a book.

I found something bigger and better. This blog. I began writing my stories and publishing them myself on this blog. I wrote what I needed to when I wanted to and didn't worry about who would want to read it. My audience grew. I began to receive fan mail. A surprisingly large amount from youngish, single men, and not at all suggestive comments or dick pics, but genuine conversation from an unlikely ally.

"I don't know why I'm so drawn to your writing. I feel kind of weird following a middle-age married mom who talks about sexual abuse and her fat ass, but, damn, I'm a fan!"

I like blogging. I'm my own boss. I get to write about anything I want. And it's much less time consuming that working on a book length manuscript. Definitely less time consuming to get it published. I just click the big orange "Publish" button, and, voila! It's out there. For anyone to read. Anyone with an internet connection. Anywhere in the world. That's fucking unbelievable. We are so lucky to live at this time in history.

Feeding my jones for expressing myself through my blog allows me time to pursue other interests. I get to keep up to date on current events and follow politics. I get to be a room parent for our daughter's school parties. I get to chit chat with friends on Facebook. I love it.

But honestly, I'm a little bored. I need more in my life than Facebook, my blog, and the dirty dishes in the sink. Katie's in fourth grade now. She needs me less and less. I'm quite comfortable embracing my slacker housewife qualities. I could have all the free time in the world and yet I'll always have dirty dishes in the sink calling my name. I've got better things to do with my time.

Like working with kids.

During all of this extravagant me-time when Katie's at school and Will's at work, instead of worrying about why no literary agents are knocking down my door, I've discovered that I have more than one talent. When I was a tween and a teen, and I first started thinking that I'd like to be a published author when I grow up, I thought that writing was my one and only talent. Failing to reach my publishing goal has helped me see that there's more to me than just writing. I'm also great with kids.

It started when I began volunteering in Katie's kindergarten class as the reading helper. I loved it. Then we joined a church and I got suckered into teaching preschool-K Sunday School, and, I loved it. I began reading about child development and making lists of my favorite picture books that I'd shared with Katie when she was little. I began reading teen fiction. I became a huge fan and started internet stalking authors such as John Green, A. S. King, Adam Rapp, and Jacqueline Woodson. I got a part-time job in the Youth Services department and somehow convinced my boss to let me lead Preschool Storytime. I had to sing during my interview. In front of my grown-up colleagues.

Me. The person who used to have a panic attack at the thought of public speaking, let alone public SINGING.

I've grown so much, I'm grownup enough to help others grow, too.

You are an expert at a subject when you can explain it to a child, to paraphrase the great Albert Einstein. I feel like I've achieved expert-level at life.

Not that everything is perfect. I mean, I have my bad days. I feel sad sometimes. Like when I think about my brother Pat, who died five years ago today. I wish he'd lived long enough to see me, all grown up.

My brother abused me when we were both young and I've learned how to live with it. I'm proud of myself and I feel like I've been called to help others grow. I've been offered a job at the library working full-time in Youth Services. I'm so excited to go back to full-time work. I'll get to continue to lead my storytimes, and I'll have more time to work on projects I'd like to develop. If you notice I'm posting to this blog less and less, don't worry. I'm out in the world helping the youth in our community grow.

back row, left to right: Jenny, Pat, and me
front row, left to right: Ernie, Bert, and Roosevelt Franklin

My brother's death and children's growth are two things swirling around inside my head this week. This is my ambiguous life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016, the year we find peace with our bodies

image source

It's a Christmas miracle. I managed to get through all our Christmas celebrations completely fat-talk-free. No one in my family mentioned weight-loss or diets or flab to me this year. I spent four glorious days with my family, all sides--Mom's, Dad's, and my husband Will's--and there was absolutely no fat-talk. At least none I heard. Perhaps people are talking behind my big fat back about weight-loss or diets or flab, but I don't care as long as I don't have to hear it.

As a recovered anorexic and a woman who lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, fat-talk--even if it isn't aimed at me--triggers my anxiety. I've been twitchy about fat-talk ever since my parents first sent me to Weight Watchers when I was in third grade. Someone mentions that they've decided to go full Paleo this year and I begin to feel the sting of bile belched up from my gut. It's even worse if fat-talk is directed at me. Like the time my co-worker told me I'd probably get more dates if I'd lose a little weight. That was before I met my amazing husband Will, who has taught me to quit giving such a shit. As my amazing husband Will says, "Other people's opinions of you are none of your business." I have better things to do with my time than worry if people are gossiping about the size of my ass. Like proving them wrong by living my life happily.

Do you know how effing big this is? It means I have finally achieved my weight-loss goal: to love my body as it is. It means I have succeeded in propagandizing the Health at Every Size philosophy to my family. Either that or I've worn them down with my incessant posts about the issue. Don't talk about dieting around Becky. She won't shut up about it!

Either way, it's been a blessing to experience a body shame-free festive holiday with my family. Which is why my first reaction to seeing one of my favorite author's posts with the word "diet" in it was to feel sick to my stomach. No!!! Not Anne Lamott, the Goddess of Grace. Please don't let her quip about her flabby thighs like she usually does. I began reading Lamott's post hesitatingly. Ready to scroll past it at any point. But the more I read, the more I could feel a big fat smile spread across my face. Wow, thanks, Anne Lamott. This is the New Year's diet talk I'm happy to hear.

May 2016 be the year we find peace with our bodies.

We need to talk.I know you are planning to start a diet on Thursday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated...
Posted by Anne Lamott on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bernie Sanders visits Freddie Gray's Baltimore neighborhood, NBCNews reporter throws a fit

image source

NBCNews: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/sanders-gets-testy-press-over-isis-question-n476251

Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-sanders-baltimore-20151207-story.html

Compare these two examples of how Bernie Sanders' campaign visit to the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested are covered by NBCNews and The Baltimore Sun. Then try to tell me there is no bias in the news. It sounds like the NBCNews reporter is throwing a little titty baby fit because Sanders wanted to talk about the REASON FOR HIS VISIT and would only answer questions from the local media. See the video of Sanders' press conference here.

image source

And  yet, yesterday Sanders' campaign managed to raise over two million dollars in small contributions from regular people who want to make this country great again by bringing back the middle class. Way to go, Bernie! Way to go, grassroots organizations! Way to go, us, the hardworking citizens of this great nation who are struggling to make ends meet, American voters who for too long have felt like their voices are unheard.

Bernie gets my vote. How about you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson (book review)

The House You Pass on the WayThe House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a tender, pre-sexual love story about two fourteen-year-old cousins who don't yet know where they fit in. One girl is biracial--black and white. One girl is adopted. Both girls are struggling with their budding sexuality. Are they gay? Are they straight? Does it matter? Will they ever feel comfortable around anyone enough to reveal their authentic selves? Woodson gracefully captures the confusion these two feel as they grow from girls to women and start to question exactly what that means. This slim book contains unusual depth and beauty. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 7, 2015

Donald Trump Divides

"Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims in the US would apply to all, including tourists, his campaign manager Corey...
Posted by Mark Levin on Monday, December 7, 2015

I love this post from Rabbi Mark Levin, quoting Pastor Martin Niemöller demonstrating why it's important that we defend Muslims right now. A Jewish human being, aided by a Christian human being, defending our fellow Muslim human beings. THAT makes me proud to be an American. Not the hate that spews from a megalomaniac's mouth. Donald Trump is no patriot. Donald Trump is a shrewd politician who wants to win your vote. When Donald Trump states that we should ban Muslims from entering the United States, it reveals a greedy, power hungry man. Not a potential Commander in Chief.  Not a leader of the free world. Trump wants to ban Muslims from our country less for his love of this great nation and his desire to protect it and more for his love of himself and his love of not losing. Trump would rather be a hatemonger than a loser. Trump wants to win our votes by assuaging our basest fears.

Divide and conquer is Political Power 101. It's a way powerful people keep winning. Keep keeping the rest of us down. Focusing on what divides us rather than what unites us. Magnifying the importance of the one-percent who genuinely do want to kill us and ignoring the love and support of the ninety-nine who genuinely want us to live peacefully, in a nation founded on the values of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We live in a multicultural society which was settled by Pilgrim immigrants seeking religious freedom. Freedom to practice a religion for which they were persecuted in their home country. They sailed across an ocean in rickety ships to flee a people who fought endless so-called holy wars against each other. Catholics against Protestants. Christians against Muslims. Christians against Pagans. Christians against Barbarians. And vice versa. Basically it boils down to this: My god is better than your god.

image via

These Pilgrims' descendants and other immigrants formed our great nation--after killing off many other great Native American nations--and wrote into our founding documents laws that state clearly that our citizens shall not be persecuted for their religious beliefs.

When Donald Trump states that we should not let Muslim-American citizens return home from a vacation or a business trip or whatever other non-violent reason they left the country and now they only wish to return to their homes, what Trump is saying is that we should deny citizens' their private property and their freedom to travel and live their lives free from religious persecution. Doesn't sound like someone who's interested in upholding the United States Constitution.

We are an imperfect people living in a country founded by people who murdered people they called savages so that they could build a nation based on freedom. It's hard. We're mere teenagers in the whole scheme of unified government things. We make mistakes. But we pull through and work to make things better for our children. Together. Each and every one of us. That's what makes me proud to be an American.

I want a president who unites us. Donald Trump divides.