Political Rant Part 1 – To The Liberals

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Photo Credit to PBS.org

By Joseph Cox

Disclaimer: The views reflected below do not represent the collective beliefs of UWF Infinite Wisdom, nor do they represent the collective view of its writers. We possess writers of various ethical and political backgrounds, so the notions expressed here should be viewed as my own.

Disclaimer having been made, I’ll note here that I’m making no attempt to remain unbiased, for I believe the only way to move forward is to express one’s opinions raw and openly. Argumentation, debate, and learning is what will drive our nation forward, make it great again even, but cowering behind an unbiased opinion moves us nowhere. Consider this a combusted start to an open dialogue.

There’s only one word that comes to mind when I view the photo above: pathetic. Though, contrary to the opinions of the many who oppose Trump, as well as the newest piece of healthcare legislation, the word pathetic does not pop into my mind because of the miserable forced smiles of 200 men. The word pathetic doesn’t arise when I contemplate the fact that millions of people may soon lose health coverage, nor does it squirm in when I contemplate the enumerable numbers of people that may soon be swindled into increased healthcare prices due to past conditions they have no hope of controlling. No, what is so endlessly pathetic is not this conglomeration of political backwardness because I expected that. It’s not as if we weren’t warned of the atrocities that Trump would come to commit in his reign, and anyone that expressed even the slightest bit of shock from the recent political events clearly paid no attention during the election. No, what’s pathetic is not the foreseen raging tide of the Conservatives on Capitol Hill, but the American nation. Our bifurcation of politics has not only allowed such a miserable piece of legislation to occur, but has utterly annihilated any sense of open dialogue among the parties. Many rational minded Conservatives have been driven into hiding for fear of the public ridicule they’ll receive upon emerging as a Republican, and that, my fellow Americans, is what strikes me as pathetic. It is not the retreat of these rational individuals that is pathetic, but it is the behavior of the opposing side that strikes me as pathetically incorrect.

Before I delve deep into the rant, let us get one thing straight, we live in a representative democracy, meaning that those 200 men pictured above, the Democrats that accompany them, and the senate, are what represent America to the foreign world. It’s not the posts of the Liberals who claim that Trump is, “not my president,” it is not the attendees of Trump rallies, and it is not any particular American city or state, for that’s the point of having representation. We, as a collective, elect the individuals that best reflect our beliefs, but many of us have forgotten what representation means. For all purposes, being in a representative democracy means that your beliefs only hold relevance when they’re influencing those that represent you. From the mayors of cities, to the house, to the senate, to the POTUS, each representative is elected to act on behalf of the collective. America elected the men pictured in that photo, for the Conservatives did not act alone.

Definition of representative democracy aside, it’s time to talk about what’s pathetic. To every Liberal that has ever posted that Donald Trump is not your president, that mysterious blob of spray tan is, in fact, your president. To any Liberal that has dared to disagree with this healthcare bill only to point fingers across the aisle at the Conservative party, this bill is your fault too. Finally, to anyone, including myself, that has ever forced someone to feel idiotic for holding beliefs that they may never have fully investigated, you’re the real idiot in that equation. Yes, I’ve been an idiot before too.

My point here is simple: as a part of a representative democracy, what Trump and the Botox faces do is our responsibility as a collective. There is no Conservative or Democrat to the rest of the world when they see America because all that’s in sight is Trump. The election is over, yes, but the lessons that needed to be reaped from the process have clearly been left in the ashes of Clinton’s dreams. Democrats are every bit as responsible for every action Trump takes as the Republicans are, even if a Democrat voted against him, because that’s how a representative democracy functions. As a Liberal, your responsibility is not to belittle the other side into submission, nor is it to shame those that have defeated you. Any attempt to shame your counterparts is a direct contradiction of the beliefs you claim to hold, literally. Here, I’ll prove it to you. The following is the definition of Liberal: open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values (feel free to google it for yourself if you don’t believe me).

What’s pathetic here is not that the Conservative party is fulfilling its promises, but that the Democrats have dared to act as if they’re powerless to stop the tide of red. The facts are blatant. Facebook posts, whining on Instagram, yelling at your Conservative friends, festering in the wonders of groupthink with those that think like you, and tweeting about how much you just can’t stand those tight faced white dudes in suits isn’t going to get you anywhere. The Republicans didn’t win the last election because Americans are ignorant, but because they were the only people that showed up to the fight. If you want the egalitarian world you so desperately desire, then you may well wish to start talking about it to the people that think your views are ridiculous. Your Facebook friends don’t need convincing, but the thousands of people passionate enough to attend Trump rallies, as well as the millions of people passionate enough to vote for Trump, do need to hear what you have to say. Neither Conservatives nor Liberals are necessarily immoral due to their party affiliations, but backing people into corners until the only voices they hear are those shouting the loudest will certainly convert them to foolishness much quicker. If you think the other party is doing stupid things, maybe blame the individuals spreading the rhetoric and beating you at your own game, as opposed to the innocents that are merely buying into the arguments that are continuously presented to them.

It’s insanely counter-intuitive that the political dogma that so vehemently speaks for equality has collectively grown to have the voice of a nagging 5-year-old that won’t bother to hear what the other side is saying. Belittling, whining, walking away from the difficult discussions, and telling your friends about it isn’t helping, but dialogue with those that are different can, and does, change the world. Debate, engage, and start conversations amongst the people that have the power to sway your representatives in your desired direction because this healthcare bill won’t be the last abomination.  Need proof of my arguments? LOOK AT THE PHOTO because they’re beating you for a reason.

 

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Beautifully In Over My Head

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By Victoria Clark

Usually, if someone tells you that they have experienced a miracle, your emotions go one of two ways. You either feel overwhelmed with awe and captured by the story, or you sit in defiance, doubting that it ever happened. I could tell you about my personal miracle and it may stop you in your tracks or you may shake your head and move on, but I’m not here to tell you to read the Bible. I’m here to show you what could happen if you want to know Jesus, not just know about Him.

One Friday night about a month ago, I experienced a personal miracle. I went to one of the small groups that my church hosts, which could be referred to as bible study, and my short life took a drastic turn. We sat in a circle and, one by one, began sharing our thoughts about this beautiful outlaw we’ve all come to know in our own ways. Across the circle from me sat a young man named John and as he spoke, I found myself frozen in my chair. He mentioned how this was his last night in our small group and that within the next few days he would be moving to San Diego, California, because that’s where the Air Force needed him to go. I felt my chest contract, an aching pain I knew all too well to be grief, and I began to wonder for the hundredth time when I would be okay enough to hear about people alive and fighting for our country now when my father was lost so many years ago.

For the nineteen years that I’ve been alive, thirteen of those years have been without my dad. One early morning in Oceanside, California, a stone’s throw from San Diego, we kissed my father goodbye and watched him walk away for the last time. Five months later there would be a knock at the door and six-year-old me would come in from playing in the backyard to answer it with as much enthusiasm as any young child today does. In the thirteen years that my dad has been dead, I hadn’t ever felt his presence again. Initially, I thought that if I befriended God I would be able to continue dancing, playing, and talking to my dad in my dreams because he would be an angel sent down from Heaven to me, but I soon realized I was thinking about God the wrong way.

As a child, I believed in God because I needed there to be a heaven where my dad could be.  I believed in God in eighth grade because I had a friend who told me I was a blessing in their life, and I wanted to truly believe that I was. I believed in God my junior year of high school because the ocean called to me to be baptized in the sea. I believed in God my senior year of high school because, against all odds, I realized I never had a reason not to believe. I used to argue with God, asking why other people who have lost loved ones can see them occasionally in their dreams or feel angelic hugs, and after so many years, I still hadn’t felt a single tug from a world beyond to tell me that all was okay.

I tuned back into the conversation at hand where a circle of strangers were excitedly talking about Jesus’ presence in their lives. The room went silent as Melissa began to speak.

“Guys,” she sighed and looked around the room, searching for words to convey the unfathomable love she felt within her, “Jesus thinks I’m funny.” I sat there confused, and I wondered what God I’ve heard preached of before thought of Jesus himself as funny. Melissa shook her head, a smile stuck on her face and light in her eyes, “When I speak to Jesus, I speak to him as if He is my best friend, because He is.” The room was silent for only a moment before more thoughts were contributed.

One person stated how you can pray to Jesus wherever you are because he will always be there to listen. One person shared how she was taught the proper way to pray was to be on your knees, hands together, and eyes closed, but then she asked us if it was possible to pray and drive a car at the same time. I sat in this circle thinking of all the times that I’ve wanted to know Jesus, all the times that I’ve cried out to Him asking for help or guidance, and how, through all that time, I was looking at Jesus as a superior being who pulled on the world by its puppet strings and not as a human.

When Jesus was a child, He had to learn how to tie his sandals. The day I learned how to tie my shoes was one fateful day in kindergarten when I interrupted my teacher multiple times just to show her that I could do it. I threw tantrums as a young child if I didn’t get my way, and Jesus did too. I skipped rocks on the surface of the water and Jesus skipped them too. I get scared of the dark, I grieve for all the loved ones I’ve lost, and I go hungry, but so did Jesus. Jesus threw tantrums as a child before He grew up and changed the world. Jesus skipped rocks on the surface of the water until the day He stood up and walked on the water instead. Jesus knew that this darkness that fell every night could be defeated, He grieved for the loved ones He lost and then He turned around and raised Lazarus from the dead. He went hungry, and the aching pain in His stomach told Him to eat just like us, and then He broke apart bread to represent himself. Jesus is both God and human. Imagine that.

Usually, if someone tells you that they have experienced a miracle, your emotions go one of two ways. When I was told of a huge miracle Jesus did for such a small person, it began to hit me just how powerful He is. The little boy was about four years old, possibly five, and he walked confidently up to me as I sat on the small couch outside of the children’s ministry three years ago. I smiled at him, wondering what was happening in his little brain. His eyes searched mine, looking between them, watching for something, and then he spoke.

“I’m a miracle.”

He looked away from me and sat down on the couch by my side as if his soul was aging quicker than he ever could, and then he sighed and spoke again.

“I’m a miracle.

“You are, are you?” He nodded, looking up to meet my eyes again. “Tell me.”

This little boy proceeded to explain that, at two years old, he had fallen off of a four-story balcony onto cement and survived. I listened to him, awestruck by his story. He told me how his family had prayed for his survival, how he wasn’t scared for his life, and that he was alive only because of Jesus. This young child came up to my side and told me that he’s a miracle, no doubt in his mind, and then as quickly as he had come up to me, he was gone. His mother took him by the hand and smiled at me, leading him away.

He waved.

This was the first time I could see the light of Jesus in someone’s eyes. Tonight, at this small group, I saw the world light up.

The bible is not a rule book. It is not a strict step-by-step guide on how to live your life. It is, in fact, the opposite. For a very long time now, the predominant Christian religious establishment has been following these strict rules they claim to find in the bible instead of offering insight into who Jesus actually is. A lot of people in our world today misinterpret the words in the Bible and see in their heads a portrait of Jesus that is pristine, perfect, ghost-like, and staring into a world beyond what they can see – but that isn’t Him. What they don’t see is the Jesus who sits on our couch across from us, feet up on the coffee table, leaning forward excitedly to learn about life from our unique perspectives. What religion today lacks is the personality of Jesus.

The biggest mistake I made growing up was trying to know Jesus by learning all the rules He created and lived by instead of knowing Him for Him. I listened to the societal perceptions that were said to be true about Christians, all the stereotypes painting us as judgmental, “holier than thou,” self-righteous people who never make mistakes and only play Christians at church, but then I realized what a trap this was. Jesus’ heart is a garden, a beautiful mess of a world, and we are all blooming stories in it.

His love crashes over us daily, over my heart every second of the day. He is the reason I love the sea, He is the reason I laugh at the little moments in life, He is the reason I take off my shoes and climb any and every tree in sight. His playfulness, His humanity, and His love is what fuels my life.

As the small group came to a close, we all decided to pray for John. He pulled his chair to the middle of the circle as the rest of us stood up and stepped in, placing our hands on him and bowing our heads, offering prayer to rush over this young man. Each of his friends took turns speaking for John and praying for safe travels there and a fulfilled life once he arrives in his new home, and, on the outskirts of the circle with my hand on this stranger’s shoulder, I felt my eyes fill with tears. My chest contracted, the grief grabbing my heart and holding it tight, and I couldn’t stop thinking how this man is going to be stationed in the last place I lived with my father before he died. I could not stop thinking about how God made a full circle in this little room, a new beginning was about to start where one ended, and I prayed, tirelessly, endlessly, “God is good.” Tears ran softly down my cheeks and I felt a comforting hand on my shoulder, an overwhelming sense of calm, warmth from all the love in the room. I opened my eyes slightly to see who was offering me such a comfort, but the room was empty behind me.

A hand squeezing my shoulder.

After thirteen years, a comfort, an okay sign, something telling me that love is greater than all. My own miracle.

For the remainder of the night, I spoke with all the strangers in the room as if we had been friends since the dawn of time. I stayed in their home until a little past ten, talking to everyone. The kindness and genuine love in the room felt so surreal, overwhelming my soul. I could feel, that night, the presence of Jesus sitting back on the couch, feet up on the coffee table, smiling and watching over us as we all talked to each other with so much light in our eyes you’d forget that the sun had set for the night.

I am beautifully in over my head.

Make America Think Again Part 2: Civility

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By Samuel Alvarado

Candidates for the presidency of the United States of America should be qualified in areas such as experience, civility, and civic mindedness. It is not befitting for a candidate to feel entitled to the presidency, especially if these qualifications are not met. An ideal candidate for the presidency of the United States of America would be a person who not only has experience in government, but also has the civility to govern the great citizens of this nation we call home. In my first article, I discussed experience as a quality greatly desired in a candidate because it makes a candidate better prepared for the difficulties of leadership, and I would advocate that civility is a quality that is required in any leadership position.

Civility entails a person who can respect the position of his or her ideological opponent. Civility refers to having the humility to understand that we are all humans at the end of the day, and should be decent towards one another, as people with different perspectives and ideas should be able to do. Many leaders these days are crossing the line of civility, as they wish to be less politically correct, and blunter with their constituents. However, this incivility comes at a price to both their candidacy and constituents, as it sets a precedent that is not one to be proud of.

Both parties in American politics are guilty of a lack of civility. A prime, and recent, example of the lack of civility would be the 2016 presidential election. The 2016 presidential election was among the most ruthless and pessimistic elections experienced in recent history. In the past election, there was far too little focus on the platforms, and more of an emphasis on the scandals, such as Benghazi and email scandal for Clinton along with the tax return scandal for Trump. The point of being politically correct is to minimize the damage that one is responsible for with their words. Our words have the potential to bring people together or to divide them. Being politically correct is, at its core, being understanding of different people in hopes of being able to work with them effectively. Because of civility, we can more easily make a deal, reach a compromise, and understand each other’s points of view.

When we are civil with one another, we can bridge political divides and make compromises that allow society and government to function  A world without civility is a world with much more ruthlessness, anger, and tribal attitudes. We, the citizens of the United States,  must be able to understand how certain words can trigger a negative response from others, such as calling people “illegals,” “hacks,” or “idiots”. These small acts of agitation will add up to make people bitter towards working with those who have been insulting them. Having a sense of what to say, or not to say, can go a long way for future political discourse. It is understood that the current president was uncivil and politically incorrect throughout his campaign. However, Hillary Clinton, who some would say has maintained an excellent political record for more than 30 years, made a lapse in judgement when she callously characterized Trump supporters. Clinton may have the experience, but she lacked the civility at a moment when civility was her greatest asset. Trump could not have been a better foil for Clinton’s esteemed civility, but she lost that high ground when she got down in the mud. The characterization of Trump supporters as belonging to a “basket of deplorables” was insulting. Trump made various missteps in civility as well by characterizing Mexican immigrants as drug dealers, rapists, and criminals, as well as offending many others within the country, such as the media, the freedom caucus, and other countries. We can see here that both candidates lacked a level of civility during their election campaigns.

It is time for the return of civility to American politics. The return of civic dialogue between the two polarized political parties would greatly benefit the United States of America.  In hopes that our representatives can work together to secure a better future for the citizens of this nation, we can hope, and we can change these bad habits ourselves. This change of callous dialogue does not happen overnight, and we can not expect our politicians to be more civil if we will not subjugate ourselves to the same measures and expectations.

Make America Think Again Part 1: Experience

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Photo by Samuel Alvarado

By Samuel Alvarado

In the United States of America, there have been marches, protests, and riots in reaction to the current Trump administration. It has only been a month since Trump has taken office, and he has caused more division as he thrives on the fear people have and has used it to propel himself to the oval office as a savior for Republicans. I see that we have elected an inexperienced, egoistic man to the highest office in the country we all call home as Americans. Currently, it seems that we have lost touch with what to look for in an electable leader.

Here in the United States of America, we have elected a man to lead an increasingly divided nation in hopes that he can “Make America great again.” However, many are in dismay with President Trump’s leadership already, as his rhetoric alienates the Democratic left of the nation. He seems to only focus on pleasing the conservative republican half of the nation that helped to elect him. With actions that seem reactionary at best, President Trump has only furthered the polarization between the democrats and republicans. The increasing polarization brings up the idea of how we see a solid foundation for leadership. Since ancient times, leaders have risen and fallen as they were tested by the challenges that presented themselves during their tenure. If anyone was an option for president, I would interject he or she would have the three qualities of relevant experience, flexibility, and civic mindedness.

An ideal candidate would have relevant experience in leadership, or better yet in government. Experience is important as relevant experience in local or state leadership can go far in helping run the national government. Some examples of recent candidates for president with relevant government experience would be Bernie Sanders, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie. Experience in government is not necessary to be president, but it is helpful in the transition of power and adjustment to the highest executive branch in the land. Just as experience in an executive board translates into a more effective executive president, a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America should be expected to have experience in similar leadership conditions. The experience of being on an executive board, for example, may help the council president to serve his or her post with better judgment and by extension a better ability able to take on the challenges that come with the job. Whether a person is a leader in a state governorship or in a position as small as an executive board member for a student organization, any relevant experience can only help leaders better serve the people who elected them to their current positions. A candidate who has such experience in government will better understand the limits of his or her own power and how to interact with legislative and judicial bodies. This experience would better enable any president to govern with the understanding that he or she is nothing without the consent and approval of the people.

Going forward, every move a leader makes has direct impacts on the people who he or she governs and, as such, any leadership position demands great care and responsibility. An example of a country that President Trump has insulted and will affect us most evidently is our southern neighbor, Mexico. Mexico has already begun talks to divest from U.S. companies and reduce imports from the United States of America if President Trump continues to strain relations with demands for a border wall and vitriolic insults at Mexico’s expense. If a trade war breaks out because of President Trump’s policies, it will directly affect the American people as any Mexican import would be subject to a tariff and American businesses would have a surplus of products that are primarily exported to Mexico.This is just one example of the possible effects that an inexperienced leader can have on his or her people and the people that they interact with. President Trump’s comments could lead to drastic actions and scenarios because his comments can be seen and interpreted by anyone and in any way. Because Trump has no prior experience in governmental leadership, it would be wise of him to consider the impact of his words and actions. Now, I am not criticizing Trump as a person, I just believe that his actions so far as a leader have not met the criteria for what I consider to be an effective leader.

President Trump has made several controversial decisions in his time as leader of our country. It is in my opinion that these decisions were made because Trump does not already have the proper experience needed for his position. I do, however, want to say that we can still hope that as he serves as President of the United States for the next four years, that he will gain the experience he needs to truly make America great again.