I was fifteen almost sixteen when I met this boy. He was great, he was everything I could have ever wanted, at least, that’s what I led myself to believe. I had a crush on him and, lucky for me, he liked me back. We started to date, but I remember that on the day that he asked me to be his girlfriend, something felt a little off. I first found out how pushy he was that night.
He was all over me. Like most teenage boys, he wanted more and I wasn’t ready for that. That night, nothing more than kissing happened, but it was too much kissing for me and I tried to tell him that, but he didn’t seem to care. I tried to brush it off and think nothing of it. After all, he was my first boyfriend and I could not mess it up; I was finally cool.
Later on in the relationship the pushiness only got worse. My friends even started to help him in weird ways. On my sixteenth birthday, after only being together for a month, he had my friends lay roses on my bed and light candles. Anyone that saw that scene knew what was going to happen, but it was not something I was ready for. When I walked in, I yelled at my friends so loud that my mom came downstairs. Luckily, he wasn’t too pushy when he came over and I did not have sex with him, but some other things happened.
Every time he would come to my house, he would force me to please him and then text his dad to pick him up. After two months, I finally couldn’t take it any longer and wanted to break up with him. But, whenever I talked to anyone about breaking up with him, they told me not to. I know I shouldn’t have listened to other people, but I had no clue when or how to break up with him because he was bigger than me and I was scared of him. I didn’t want to find out what he would do to me.
Eventually, I broke up with him. I made sure it was in a very public place and it was actually okay. But, an easy breakup doesn’t mean I left without baggage. He sexually abused me. Him being my first boyfriend made it so I had no clue how relationships were truly supposed to be. He took my innocence away from me. Everyone talks about how one’s first relationship is full of love and innocence, but I never got that.
I hated myself for months after everything happened. I used to cry myself to sleep because I would think of him and what he did to me. At first, I was scared to tell people everything that happened. No one believed me and that made talking about it harder. I wanted to get him in trouble for what he did to me, because what he did to me is something I will carry the rest of my life; but, there was no way to get him in trouble. I wanted him to hurt as much as he hurt me. But, I was never able to do that, so I grew more mad as time went on. Pretty soon, I no longer saw myself as a person; I saw myself as an object for people to use.
About ten months after everything happened, I went to church camp. While I was there, my youth leader talked about how in Christianity one is supposed to forgive everyone as God has. Hearing that was very hard for me, so I talked to my leader more and he helped me work through everything that happened and cried with me. He was the first person to cry with me. I felt like he truly cared about me and, from that week, I learned to forgive my ex. It wasn’t easy; some days, I still get mad at him for the things he did to me, but I want to be a better Christian, so I am working as hard as I can to forgive him.
I have not fully overcome the conflict, but I have learned to deal with it and have started to forgive. One day, I hope I can say will full certainty that I forgive him, but until that day comes, I will be looking to God to get me there.
There once was a thing named freedom. The gods created it for everyone to hold on to from birth and throughout their life, for all of us to rely on. It was a given right and we thought it was safe to stay.
It was a world of peace, as it was supposed to be. A world where we would talk and learn and see the places we wanted to see and know the things we wanted to know; it was a free world.
There was also a thing named envy. The gods didn’t create it, people did. Why? No one knows. Because the people were bored? Because they were intimidated and jealous? Who knows? But, what can we do? Envy is the flawed human trait, one of them at least.
When envy spread across our peaceful world and the people first tasted its sour acid rain, freedom started to fade. First, the people claimed the world and its land. Then, they saw the beauty of nature and took it. They saw the beauty of the birds and took it, locked them in and traded their freedom for amusement. They kept taking, claiming, and destroying. One day, the greediest of people, saw another person and took them.
Freedom has been on the brink since then. Our world has never been the same since we started taking other people’s freedom for our own comfort. Some of us want it to be the way it used to be, some want this to be a free world again. But, some of us are not enough of us.
The funny whose jokes are overshadowed by sadness.
The family-oriented who can’t see their nephew graduate.
The misunderstood who can’t show their legitimate beliefs.
The innocent who are painted as violent, unjust, or villainous.
The dedicated whose crafts will be destroyed before their finish.
The capable who are given more restrictions that weigh them down.
The creative who will never pick up another paintbrush, pen, or camera.
The trapped who have had their ticket to freedom ripped out of their fingers.
The loving who will be across the world from their sister while she is getting married.
The kind who are readily met with guns pointed in-between their eyebrows.
The faithful who can no longer see the light at the end of the ominous tunnel.
The charming who get turned away before they can flash their brilliant smiles. The forgiving who are given nothing but punishments for the actions of others.
The aspiring doctors, teachers, or parents whose lives were cut off or thrown off course.
The eloquent whose thoughts will have to be shared in diaries instead of at universities. The confident who get put down until they would rather stare at the ground than at a mirror.
The brave – the ones who perilously fought for their country, who can’t receive their medals or see their families after a long, hard battle.
The humans who are treated like less than they are, and much less than they deserve.
This is for all those in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya who have faced injustice, not just from every-day Islamophobia, but blatant xenophobia from the leaders of a so-called “great” nation.
Syria has been the centerpiece of an ISIS invasion, revolution, Russian aggression, and Western Concerns. With Aleppo as the prime example of what has befallen of Syria, entire populations have disappeared.
Sections where thousands walked daily are now ghost towns, filled with rebels, daily Russian bombings, and the desperate ones who don’t want to leave their homes. The country once filled with tourism and stability has taken a sudden turn into total chaos, chaos originating from an Arab Spring pro-democracy protest opposing the torture of a group of students in 2011.
Following the mass demonstration, dozens of people were killed, between protesters and the aggressive police, prompting protesters to gain weapons to defend themselves, then eventually rid government forces altogether in cities.
Five years later and millions have run from the country, with the majority landing in Turkey and surrounding Islamic Nations. A small percentage migrated into Europe, prompting anti-Islamic protests within such Nations.
Russia takes lead in defending Syria’s failing government with aggressive bombardment on civilians and rebels alike. The UN has stopped sending aid to civilians due to attacks on their convoys, and the U.S. arms Democratic Revolutionaries throughout Syria while the Islamic State advances. This Nation has fallen apart, and now third parties stroke the flames instead of leaving the situation alone between the revolutionaries and the government.
So where does it end?
So far, there is no ending from a diplomatic viewpoint; the Geneva talks have only been another platform over which the U.S. and Russia disagree. There’s no clear sign over the future of the Nation, or whose hands it will fall into. Whether it’s Western powers, Russia, or radicals, the nation and it’s structure will remain shattered for year to come.
Imagine a world with no religion, no set of laws and morals set by a religious sect, set in place to give people a path in life to help themselves or others, and to achieve happiness.
Would the world burn without this path?
Probably not. In fact, religious influence may be diminishing across the western world, including the surprisingly Christian United States.
Yet many fight this fall in religion, by stating rising statistics of incarceration due to the lack of Christian belief and a strong belief in the “rise of drug use.”
The evidence says otherwise – usage of drugs with the exception of marijuana (due to legalization) has steadily declined since the 1970s. However, the large jump of incarcerated people did have a major and steady increase between 1980s and 2000. That increase suddenly halted, remaining the same until 2010, and then slightly dropping the last six years.
So, is the drop in the number of believers due to the rise of criminals? In a graph, the conclusion would be most definitely not. Other variables had far more influence on the rise of incarceration, such as longer jail time, better criminal investigation, and stricter laws. The infamous drug war also had an effect on drug use, though only for a proportion of the population. Today it’s become a black hole of federal spending which will be touched on in another blog.
Actually, it is just a coincidence – just because there’s a drop in religion doesn’t mean it’s directly affecting the safety of the world. Funny enough, nuclear weapons have a far larger statistical influence on world peace.
George Carlin famously said, “More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason.” This popular quote used across the world is completely untrue, only 7% of all war has been caused by religion and only 2% of all casualties were because of religion. In fact, religion plays as big of a role in our lives as the average person or government. The lack or abundance of faith has little to no influence – bad people are still bad, and good people stay good, with or without religion.
Statistically, religion is an independent variable with little influence except to the ones who preserve it and try to broaden its influence. So whether god is real or not, should all people of the planet were to lose their faith, there’s little evidence of any possible retaliation from the big man himself. Instead, maybe a few more progressive laws could be passed and there will be a drop in hate crimes. Or maybe numbers be damned, and tomorrow the second coming will happen.