February 14th, 2018, a day supposed to symbolize love, will now forever be a reminder to students, friends, and families of how seventeen students were murdered in the last place kids should have to worry about being killed – a school.
October 27th, 2018, was the day when eleven Jews were killed in a synagogue, a place of worship.
November 7th, 2018, was the day college students were enjoying a night out at a bar and 12 people were murdered.
All of these people died at shootings. All of theses deaths were at the hands of horribly evil people with easy access to guns.
When will enough be enough?
How many people have to die until change happens?
How many parents have to send their kids to school one day not knowing if they’ll ever get to see their child again?
How many kids have to walk into school every day and go through classes scared of the possibility of being put on lockdown, getting injured, or getting killed?
How many people have to say goodbye to their best friends, partners, and loved ones?
The answer is too many, because people would rather have their rights to guns than have children live.
The right for someone to live should override the right for someone to have a gun.
Yes, guns don’t kill people, people do, but people use guns to kill. People have such easy access to guns that the line blurs and guns themselves are just as much of a threat as the people who have the right to hold them.
We’re not asking to outlaw guns, but we’re asking for restrictions. We’re asking to make schools safe again. To enjoy time at concerts, restaurants, churches, mosques, and synagogues without having to be afraid of being shot at.
Because enough is enough and change needs to happen.
Sixty-six thousand dogs and twenty-one thousand cats are used for testing makeup, pharmaceutical drugs, carcinogens, and much more. Within this testing, animals are burnt, abused, and even killed. Many pregnant animals are slaughtered so their fetuses can be used for testing.
Many ranchers use the cheapest ways to kill animals, such as electrocution or injecting them with insecticides, which take around three minutes of pain before the animal will die.
Footage of leading fur producing industries showed the animals being slammed against the floor to stun them and them being skinned alive.
A beef company in Texas was reported twenty-three times for cutting the hooves off of live cattle. No notifications to stop or police punishments where placed upon the company.
Videos of the slaughter house which supplies KFC with its chickens were released showing employees slamming the birds against walls, stomping on them, and kicking them. They twisted the chickens heads off, ripped of their beaks, and pulled them in half, all while the birds were still alive.
An employe from Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas was shown punching and stomping turkeys, slamming them against walls, crushing the bird’s skulls, and bashing them on metal handrails. All of this was done to the turkeys while they were still alive.
Animals in fur farms are kept in extremely small cages and are killed around the age of six months. The animals are kept in extremely cold conditions, so they will grow the thickest coats as possible. Many of them freeze to death, yet the industry couldn’t care less, because the fur can still be used.
The shark fin soup business kills over one hundred million sharks per year. When the sharks are caught, fishermen just cut of the fins and throw the shark back into the ocean. Without fins, the shark is unable to swim and will sink to the bottom of the sea, dying a slow, painful death.
The Humane Society of the United States discovered police officers in uniform betting on animal fighting in Kentucky.
Over 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized in the US due to the lack of space in shelters.
These are few of the many injustices and cruelties that animals face.
Ignorance is bliss, but ignorance won’t change anything.
In order to help, adopt animals from shelters instead of breeders or puppy mills, buy products that are not tested on animals, stay away from purchasing leather or fur.
There are many more ways to help end animal cruelty; for more, visit:
The icecaps are melting. Human green house gas emissions have grown 80% since 1970. On average, annually, a women makes eleven thousand dollars and men make twenty-one thousand. A headless chicken named Mike lived for eighteen months after its head was cut off. Toilet paper kills 27,000 trees daily. By 2050, one million species of animals will be extinct. But, the problem dominating the internet (not), bringing major social uprising (sarcasm), and (said ironically) causing riots around the world: non-dairy drinks being called milk. *GASP*
Dairy farms protest dairy alternatives such as soy, almond, cashew, and coconut being called milk. This issue has been taken to congress and brought up with the FDA. It is rumored that the FDA will ban the use of “milk” in the title of non-dairy beverages.
Let’s be real here. There are MUCH bigger problems facing our earth today. People, sit down, pour a nice big glass of almond milk, and email congress or the FDA to say “START DOING SOMETHING NECESSARY WITH YOUR AUTHORITY!”
Thirteen years is a long time for a seventeen year old – and I have been here for thirteen years.
I’ll be honest there is certainly a dissociative sense of gladness that I’ll finally be seeing a change of scenery, a change in pace. It is easy to say, “God am I glad to be moving on,” it is easy to think that I’m ready and really don’t care all that much. It is easy to look at these past thirteen years and think of only the things I’m ready and willing to give up.
It is not easy however to look back on the past four years, the past seven, all the years and think of all that I’m leaving behind. It is not easy to leave with honesty, with neither hell nor rose tint. I won’t say that the past years, high school in particular were perfect – I have nothing to compare them to, I won’t say they were terrible either – they weren’t.
It’s odd to think about, even odder to try to put into words the sort of feelings I have about moving onto the next part of whatever future awaits me, because in part there is a sort of cold readiness to just leave but in equal part there is a desperate need to hold on, to dig my heals in, to continue to put my nose to the grindstone so I don’t feel the inevitable sense of loss.
It is undeniable that who I am is inescapably tied to these past years and I wonder everyday if I have the strength to untether myself from that. All my heart strings are tangled up and confused as to what to do in these last days – run as fast as I can home where I can rest and pretend like I’m already gone or stick around and grow melancholy realizing that it is the last time that I will be as I am where I am – realizing that these are the last moments for me to see my teachers as the teachers whose classes I used to know I would inevitably show up in again next year, sleep deprived and more than a little black-mooded.
Is it strange that I feel so much and nothing at all? Is it weird that I can’t find it in myself to reminisce like a bad made for TV movie with an even worse soundtrack? Is it weird that I can’t find the strength to tell my friends that I love them now in case we naturally fall into radio silence? Is it weird that I can’t find the ability to say thank you to the teachers who have built me?
I’m not sure how to put it all together. How to show the the people who deserve my thanks and love just how thankful I am and how much love I have for them. I’m not sure how to say goodbye to the place and people who have been my entire world for 76% of my life. Thirteen years is a lot of “stuff” and people to say goodbye to and I don’t think I’ll ever really be ready for that, but in three days I will have to anyway.
It is not a goodbye forever but it is a forever goodbye to the safety and essence of what those years have been.
I almost inevitably will cry June 1, I’m not ready for that. On June 1, even if I don’t say it outright, I hope that everyone from the past thirteen years understands that I am eternally thankful and that, selfishly, it may hurt me too much to try to say it to their faces.
So let me say it now, in the likely event that I can’t say it later:
Thank you for all the years, for the good, the mediocre, the not so good, for everything.
The three words we have all (hopefully) heard since our early childhoods. Anytime you go to throw something away, they spin in a constant loop in your mind reminding you what to do with plastic and waste.
Unfortunately, these words have lost their meaning. I like to think that we are starting to become more environmentally aware, but the truth is that not much is changing; or at least, change isn’t happening quickly enough.
Here’s the thing: while we might all be aware of our incredible impact on the environment, we’re not actually doing anything about it.
After watching a TEDx Talk about this subject, I learned some frightening facts.
It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish.
For many manufacturers in the world, the United States especially, it is less expensive to use new plastic to produce items than it is to use recycled plastic. In 2012, only 9 percent of post-consumer plastic was recycled. The remaining plastic was discarded.
“Without a profitable market in which to sell used plastic, many recyclers export it, in a process known as outsourcing waste. In 2011, America’s primary export to China was used plastic.”
Plastic does not biodegrade. Over time, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called micro-plastic. These microscopic pieces of plastic are eaten by organisms, which are then eaten by tiny fish, which then are eaten by bigger fish, and so on. Eventually, the plastics that have been eaten by marine life will work their way up the food chain to humans. Even though we might not be physically eating it, the chemicals from plastic have been shown to be linked to obesity and cancer.
While it might not be our fault that the oceans are filling up with plastic, it is our responsibility as human beings to resolve this problem.
Oftentimes we are desensitized to the harsh reality of just how damaged the planet is becoming. Sure, we know that we’re not treating the environment as well as we could be, but maybe we think that it won’t really become a problem until we’re not around anymore. Maybe that’s right, maybe we won’t start seeing the real effects until our generation is long gone.
But if we don’t correct past mistakes, there will come a time when there is no land on Earth that is untouched by plastic. There will come a time when there is no more fresh water available, or when it is impossible to stay outside for longer than three minutes without being sunburned due to the ozone layer dissolving. There will come a time when our planet’s resources have all been used up so that it will no longer be able to sustain human life.
So we have to start now. There are so many simple things that we can implement in our daily lives that can contribute to bettering the environment. The next time you get a drink at a restaurant, don’t take a plastic lid and spoon. Pack your lunch in a bandana or reusable containers instead of in a paper or plastic bag. Do everything in your power to end single-use and stop using unnecessary plastics.
Simply put, we need to stop teaching our children the words “reduce, reuse, recycle,” because they just aren’t working anymore.
Contrasting the small, quaint towns where I’ve grown up in California, New York City was a breath of fresh, exciting air with life awaiting at the end of every corner walked.
My first night in New York was magical. I arrived around 10 at night, and looking out the window I was in awe of all the city lights illuminated in the distance. I couldn’t see all of them yet, but I knew they’d be tall and magical.
The cab ride was no different. With the hood of the roof of the taxi cab rolled back, I felt small as I saw the bright city lights tower over me, skyscraper after skyscraper appeared for the whole hour of driving until we arrived at our Airbnb in Greenwich Village.
At 12:30 we finally headed outside for dinner, and every restaurant was open. At TWELVE THIRTY at night, every restaurant was open, while in Santa Barbara anywhere but a bar is usually closed by 10 pm at the latest. You’re lucky if anything is open in LA.
But New York City is just filled with amazing life and even more amazing food. Every single restaurant I went to had artichokes, and I love artichokes. It’d be a miracle if I found them at a restaurant excluding Sea Fresh and Cheesecake Factory in California.
But that’s just one food item. We ate at a different restaurant every single night. From small vintage American diners playing 2000’s throwbacks to luxurious, high-end Italian restaurants or steakhouses, every place was delicious.
But one place that sticks out in my mind is BlackTap. The small, bar-seated burger place only fit thirteen people. The place had an hour long line, but when we refused to wait and came back a calmer day, we finally understood why the place was so popular. The food was phenomenal, but the true wow factor of the place was their milkshakes.
The milkshakes were insane. From cookies supreme to the birthday shake, these shakes towered over the cups they were put in with overdoses of sugar and sweetness. I had a cookies & cream shake which left me in a sugar coma for the rest of the day.
Though most of my memories of NYC occurred in a restaurant, there are so many more that they’d be difficult to count on my fingers and toes, but I’ll name a few.
The Saturday after we arrived, I eagerly ran over to Washington Square Park from the place I was staying to participate in a massive pillow fight on National Pillow Fight Day. Hundreds of people piled into the park with pillows in their hands and grins on their faces in a fight to the “death” in a friendly, but intense, pillow fight. It was one of the purest experiences I ever had the privilege to take part in. Feathers exploded into the air, laughter silenced the playful screams, and pillows were thrown.
I did many more things in New York City. I walked around the city so much that my feet had blisters that hurt to the point that I’m still limping now (it was worth it), I visited three universities and absolutely fell in love with NYU, and I explored every inch of Times Square. However, by far my favorite were the three broadway shows I went to.
First I went to the Book of Mormon. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I didn’t listen to the soundtrack prior to going, but the performance exceeded my expectations. First, it was the most hilarious show I had ever been to. It was completely satirical about the Mormon faith, but it was executed perfectly with amazing acting, and catchy songs that are still stuck in my head. However, the musical is highly offensive so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone highly religious or offended easily by extreme stereotypes, but it’s definitely worth paying the money to go see.
The day after I went to go see Kinky Boots. The night before I had a midlife crisis because my NYU tour and Kinky Boots show were planned at the same time. I shouldn’t be melodramatic, but when my aunt told me that they’d just go see Kinky Boots without me, I almost died. I had been excited about that show for months, and I had been dying to go see it since Brendon Urie starred in it. Thankfully, we were able to exchange our tickets for the night performance and I was able to experience the magic of Kinky Boots. I had heard nothing but positive reviews, and when I went to the show I left happier than ever. It was original, unique, and just saying, those men walk better in six inch heels than I ever will.
Completely last minute, my Aunt and I headed into Times Square and snatched last minute seats to The Lion King. Somehow ending up in the seventh row of the center orchestra, I was ready for three hours to experience one of the most iconic shows on Broadway. I was shocked how much effort was put into the show. The costume design was crazy. I didn’t know where to look during the opening number when people dressed head to toe in animal costumes walked down the aisles singing the Circle of Life while walking onto the stage. Everything about all these shows was amazing.
I could go on about my trip in New York for hours, but this is just a glimpse of it, and I am dying to be back there soon.