An Agreement to Disagree

I think we can all agree that, for the most part, politics suck.

When I was younger, I think I just sort of fell into agreement with my family’s political views; one, because I didn’t pay any attention to what was happening, and two, because it didn’t matter to me at that point in my life anyway.

Now that I try my best to stay up-to-date with news, I can actually comprehend what it means, and I feel the effects of the things that are going on in the world around me. Now that I can form opinions for myself, they’ve begun to differ from what I grew up with.

For the most part my parents are very open to discussions and they do their best to give me unbiased responses, but some others in my family aren’t so supportive.

I try to stay away from discussing politics with these members of the family, but sometimes things come up unintentionally. For example: tonight at dinner, I began talking about hopes for my future, such as what I want to study and where I want to go to college, possible careers, where I want to travel, etc.

When I mentioned that one day I want to join the Peace Corps they sort of laughed at me. That’s when our conversation took a turn. Instead of discussing my hopes and dreams for my life ahead of me, I was bombarded with questions like, “Why do you want to join the Peace Corps? Why don’t you intern at Wall Street?” and “Don’t you care about money? Well you will once you have to provide for yourself.”

Image via Bubble-Jobs.co.uk

As a result of those responses, I have a message for the family members in question: Since I decided to keep my larger opinions to myself after the dinner incident, here are a few things that I hope you will someday understand.

First and foremost, I am fully aware that for my entire life I have been financially secure and I haven’t had to worry about anything involving money. I know that this is a result of a lifetime of your hard work, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Although some of our opinions are quite different, I still respect yours; your opinions are valid.

I’m not sorry that my views differ from yours, but I’m sorry that you completely disregard them. It really doesn’t matter to me that you have different values, so long as you don’t tell me that my own are wrong.

While you are probably correct in that a lot of my opinions are somewhat influenced by my peers, that doesn’t mean that I can’t think for myself.

It’s fair for you to be disappointed that I don’t agree with you, but it’s not fair for you to be disappointed in me as a person. The way I vote does not determine who I am, nor does it determine my character.

Half of my relatives just give away their vote and let someone else decide their views for them. Shouldn’t you be happy that I can think for myself? Shouldn’t you be happy that I don’t believe everything I’m told and that I know what is important to me? Shouldn’t you at least be happy that I believe in something?

Please don’t disregard what I say to you. Please don’t blame my opinions on my age. Please don’t brush off my contradictions with “Oh, she’ll come around one of these days.”

Please don’t look at me differently because of what I think. Differences in opinions should be accepted, not criticized. If our minds were all the same, nothing would ever go anywhere.

Diversity, whether it be found in people, in life experience, or in beliefs, is a wonderful thing.

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13 Reasons (Why?)

*WARNING: 13 Reasons Why spoilers*

About two weeks ago I sat down on my bed and opened Netflix. I kept scrolling and scrolling until, wait. I scrolled back up. In the Netflix Originals section there was a poster for 13 Reasons Why. I remember hearing so much hype for this show and seeing so many pictures from it. Not to mention, Selena Gomez, a producer for the show, raved about it on her Instagram a month ago. Almost impulsively I clicked play and listened to those first words, ringing through my ears.

“Hi, I’m Hannah Baker, live and in stereo.”

my dog eating a tangerine
Photo Credit: hollywoodreporter.com

I was instantly hooked and stayed that way until the last episode. However, by the time I was done, I was shaking and crying. No, it didn’t move me or inspire me to donate to suicide prevention lines. It gave me a panic attack. That’s the hook. The show slowly, mysteriously arises, making you want more. The end comes in flashes and ends with a bang.

Up until this point, I’ve loved most shows I’ve watched on Netflix. Stranger Things brought a retro spin on an eerie missing child’s case, and Netflix also revived some of my favorite shows from my childhood, like Degrassi and Bill Nye. However, 13 Reasons Why seems rushed and overly dramatic. They took Jay Asher’s book and made it a sloppy real-life version.

Obviously the show can’t be exactly like the book, explaining the various character changes, such as Sheri and Courtney, and depicting some timeline and technology differences. Of course, they had to spread out Clay listening to the tapes to supplement an entire season of episodes. It makes sense that they’d show different perspectives to create more depth and keep interest at bay. In 2007, when the book was originally published, social media wasn’t as popular as nowadays, which makes the technology advancement sensical.

That doesn’t explain why they changed Hannah’s suicide. When I saw her death scene, my stomach twisted into a pretzel, with a cold, hollow feeling. I started crying and hyperventilating. Yes, there was a warning at the beginning of the episode, but nothing could’ve prepared me for seeing her slit her wrists and bleed out in a bathtub. My full-body aching became worse when I found out that they changed it from Jay Asher’s original story. In the book, Clay simply mentions that “Hannah swallowed some pills.”

Some have said that this scene only makes the show more powerful. However, seeing something as graphic as that does more harm than good. In fact, Hannah’s suicide could be a risk factor for those on the edge. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states, “Exposure to another person’s suicide, or too graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide” could be an environment stressor that could trigger a suicide attempt. While it is given that there will be mentions of suicide, it isn’t publicized that a graphic suicide attempt is present in the show.

Many mental health professionals have spoken out about the negative affects of this show. Along with Hannah’s suicide attempt, the story itself glorifies suicide. The entire show is buzzing all around social media for its amazing cast and storyline, so it’s hard to detach it from all the talk, to talk about what it’s actually worth.

The entire premise is that a girl kills herself and blames it on other people, which is usually the opposite of what actually happens when someone takes their life. There is usually a feeling of helplessness and worthlessness, but suicide is (and always will be) the choice of a single individual. Viewers also miss the internal struggle that most people on the edge experience – the constant back and forth decision-making of whether or not they’ll commit.

Other less prominent issues are in play. Clay’s childhood friend, Skye Miller, tells him that suicide is for the weak and cutting is for those who are strong. Despite being grotesquely wrong, this glorifies self-harm, as a “strong” thing to do. Self harm is never a healthy, safe choice and can cause numerous health problems, besides leaving scars. The school’s health counselor’s, Kevin Porter,  lack of training is appalling. He doesn’t recognize obvious signs of Hannah’s suicidal thoughts and doesn’t report that she was sexually assaulted after he pressures her into giving out the name of her assailant, which she refuses to do out of fear. This scene will discourage many students to seek help in times of need, which could cause many lives to be lost.

Finally, Alex’s suspected suicide attempt is unnecessary and a cheap way to obtain a second season. He obviously exhibited signs of suicidal ideation, but this was uncalled for. The story has no mention of Alex killing himself and for a show that wants to honor the original story, this makes zero sense. My hope is that if they make a second season, they will be more aware of how to handle his suicide in a more appropriate (and less triggering) fashion.

For what its worth, this show does open up a dialogue about suicide awareness. While the information in this show isn’t all factual, it at least depicts suicide as a very real, very horrible thing. If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

A Wall and a Hard Place

Photo Credit: newyorker.com

The debates have finished and what’s left of the pure idiotic chaos is not only uncertainty but also fear, very real fear that all American people should feel.

United States! As the most powerful country the U.S. has shot itself in the foot and decided for some reason this was the best course. The U.S. believes its ideology is based on liberty and freedom, yet the two major Candidates running for presidency are: a xenophobic belligerent idiot and a fraudulent capitalist crook. Both of whom have ruined many people’s lives and may very well ruin another three hundred million.

The wickedest part is the idea that the American people have created this monster. Through negligence, polarized views, and civil unrest. Who else to blame for this outrageous race? The average American sees radical views from Trump and believes he’s right, change must happen. Conversely, others are scared as hell of Trump and his narrow views, so they hold on to the idea that Hillary won’t be as totally dishonest and corrupt as she has been in the past, and cling to her leg.

The U.S. is stuck in-between a wall and a hard place, so when given the option to vote, you better take it, otherwise in four years you might not have the chance.

Debate

With the Republican debates (if you can call them that) going on right now, I was reminded of how much I enjoy a good debate (this is how it’s done), mainly because I have not seen one during this election.

You see, the Republican candidates are either too crazy and misinformed to be able to argue their point of view, or they are stuck on advertising themselves to America in what they think is the way Americans want to see them.

Gingrich (who is crazy evil) does seem to have a bit of skill at the game. Unfortunately his combination of hypocrisy and shear Darth Vaderness makes him so unappealing to listen to that he is mostly ignored.

The ignorance that is shown on the stage pretty much cancels out any interest I have in the debates beside entertainment and the crazy things they say. And that is unfortunate, because the art of debate is a great one.

The whole trick is to stay calm and look for that one mistake. If you can keep up with good rebuttals and attacks long enough, your opponent will slip up, and when they do, you must be ready to pounce.

Once you have seen the mistake you must attack. In this case, offense is the best defense. They can argue all they want but you will always be able to fall back on their mistake. Hopefully, they become flustered, allowing you to find more and more mistakes.

The goal, in the end, is not to convince your opponents they are wrong, but everyone in the room that you are right. It takes patience and knowledge, but when played properly, a debate can contain fantastic results.

I am constantly looking for someone to debate with, about any issue that is found to be controversial. To test myself I often argue the side I disagree with. By doing so, I learn the enemy, giving me the upper hand if I ever end up on the other side.

Debate is really and art form and one that is not used enough in today’s society. If we talked more about the important issues, the whole country would become better informed, hopefully leading to a better society.

So get out there and argue! Don’t just yell, look for the mistakes and attack, attack, attack!