While Manchester is uniting and healing at the One Love Manchester benefit concert, it seems there's no rest for mourning these kinds of tragedies, as several incidents in London occurred--stabbings and van plowing. On top of that, bodies of children, women, and men found shot by IS as they tried to escape Mosul. This is the world we live in.
Having recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival, where security was heightened to the point of snipers on the rooftops and numerous policemen carry rifles scattered throughout the city center, I wonder...is this to be our norm? Nowadays, you can't even go to a concert to enjoy your favorite artist without worrying about what might happen. Every time I'm in an airport, a train station, or just a crowded public area I find myself on high alert observing everyone and everything around me. As the plane takes off, I always cross myself and say a quick prayer to God and Saint Christopher for a safe and successful journey, and then I do the same thanking them, once we've landed. It's a little habit I picked up from my grandmother; however, nowadays I'm practically superstitious about it and pray extra hard. Yet, we can't hide. We can't stop living our lives.
Every time an attack happens it makes me think of the bomb alarms that would sound during WWII to warn the city that a bombing was coming or taking place. Here in the US, it seems we even have to worry about crazed Nationalists, Fascists, White Supremacists.
How do we fight and defeat terrorism and radicalism? What's happening in London is still unfolding as I'm typing this, and after sending a couple messages to friends in the area, I noticed that I'm sending the same message every few months now. Even when I'm fairly certain that they're not in the areas affected, you just never know.
I get so angry, because I cannot understand why these attacks are the answer for some. How does it make sense to take lives, to cause pain, and to cause fear? I get so angry, because I know some will use these acts to try to further divide us. As questions keep swirling in my head and I try to channel my anger into positive energy, I come back to one thing I'm sure of, one thing I have to be sure of: A Lesson in Love From Little Miss Foo Foo.
Stay strong world. We've got to stick together, now more than ever. Being divisive, imposing things like travel bans, actually only hurts us rather than protect us. We're stronger together, and divisive acts only weaken us and provide the hateful perpetrators their ammunition.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I heard that Archbishop Jose Gomez, the archbishop of the Los Angeles diocese was passed up for Cardinal by Pope Francis, because Pope Francis wanted to bring up some of the "smaller" guys. It would have been easy to appoint Archbishop Jose Gomez, because he runs the largest diocese in the United States, which naturally means having great influence. However, Pope Francis decided to show everyone that the guys covering small diocese, the ones who may go unnoticed, are just as important. You can never forget the "little" people, because they too make up our community.
I don't know how true this is, but it sounds like Pope Francis, and it made me think about the state of our country. There's concern that those being appointed to lead our country will only look out for the big guns. Right after our election someone told me, "Justine, you have nothing to worry about, because none of this is likely to affect you. You're not a minority. You're privileged." My mouth dropped a little and I was deeply offended. I'm American-Asian and I'm a woman. How am I not a minority? I understood what she meant though. But regardless of how any policy directly or indirectly affects me, this is my country, my people, my world. These leaders are supposed to stand up for our values and work for the people. Have we all forgotten what the very first line of the preamble to our Constitution says?
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I started thinking a lot about these words as our country continues to feel more and more divided. WE are the PEOPLE of this great country. If we are to always works towards a more perfect Union, we cannot reject parts of the union, and parts of the people. Having a difference of opinions is one thing; but taking action that most certainly disturbs domestic tranquility and divides the people is another. If we don't work to support ALL the people of our country, then we are only allowing ourselves to fall greatly and fall far. True, times were different when our founding fathers drafted the Constitution, and many of them may have been racist and slave owners, but the preamble to the Constitution does not refer to any specific kind of people like "We the white male People of the United States." Nor does it say, "We the some People." No, it says, simply, "We the People..." Our founding fathers drafted and implemented the Constitution on behalf of ALL Americans.
I keep repeating those words to myself, and I keep thinking about my friends' families who are affected and would be affected by any sort of ban on Muslim countries. How are "We the People" able to split up families, upstanding American families, because we are driven by fear? Many of my friends' families fled dire and perilous situations, came here, worked hard, and lived out their version of the American dream. They embody the American values our forefathers laid out to protect in the Constitution.
The sad part is, this sort of anti-immigrant attitude is not new to our nation; but we live in a time where we shouldn't have to fight this. It's the Muslims today, it was the Italians, Irish, and Chinese before, who will it be ten or twenty years from now? It should be no one, if we remember our Constitution, if we remember what is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”), and if we remember that refugees are people, too. They're escaping the horrors from which we are trying to protect our country. So, we're on the same side.
How can a nation ever be strong if it preys on its most vulnerable links? If you want to fly, you must lift those who helped build your wings.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
As a child, we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year. We learned who we was, what he stood for, memorized a part of his "I Have a Dream" speech, and Lord knows how many times I watched "Selma, Lord, Selma"--in school and at home. This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day felt especially important.
Just a few days ago, our current President-elect made yet another offensive and unfounded remark. This time he barked back at Rep.John Lewis, who had questioned the President-elect's legitimacy as President. The President-elect claimed Rep. John Lewis is "all talk, talk, talk -- no action or results." Could he be more wrong? At a time when our country is so deeply divided and seemingly stepping back into certain dark periods of the 20th century, the President-elect's ignorant and immature tweet stings deeply. It made me so angry to think that the person who is about to become my president could be so uninformed and uneducated so as to essentially disregard such a crucial time in our American history...my blood boils. I mean, does the guy even know what the Civil Rights Movement is? It felt to me like he might as well pull a Turkey and deny Bloody Sunday. Clearly, the President-elect did not read up on American history, or pay attention in school, or even watch the movie "Selma."
I don't need to go into everything that Rep. John Lewis has done, especially during the civil rights movement, because the internet has already taken care of that for us, but this MLK Day is bigger than celebrating one man. MLK Day is representative of ALL those who stood for positive change in our country, those who stood up and spoke out for what's right. It's clear we still have a long way to go here, which is why this MLK Day is so important.
As I reflect on what this day really means, I ask myself, what can I do, as an American, to move my country forward? That is something we should all think about. Instead of dividing ourselves, what can we do to move ourselves and our country forward? Because this is one damn, beautiful country we live in, with a vibrant spirit unmatched anywhere else. Let's not lose the American spirit.
BIG LOVE & HUGS