Fridays in November

I am determined to finish my first complete novel this year.  In order to get off to a great start, I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I’m pretty sure it’s become an international thing, but the name stays, cuz it’s cool.

I won’t be blogging much in November so I can concentrate on finishing that novel. During that time, I’ll be reblogging from other blogs that I find interesting and/or I agree with. I’ll be back in full force on December 5.

And for those of you who haven’t voted yet, PLEASE take this into consideration when voting:

Out with the old, in with the new. PuhLEASE!

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Getting Personal About Suicide

I had another post planned for today. It just needs some finishing touches. I think I’ll leave that post for next week, though. This is far more important.

This is supposed to be a reblog, but it ended up on the wrong website (I have three others, oops!). So I have copied a photo and linked it to MoSop’s blog so that you can get the story straight from her.

Click on the picture to get to MoSop’s blog.

Thanks, MoSop

“This is not the God and the Christ that I Believe in”

I may be a late-comer to the bandwagon on this issue. I found this just two days ago as I was taking a closer look at Jim Dabakis’ website. And as I read, I knew I could not remain silent.  Dabakis  is pleading for help because this is an LDS issue, and Dabakis is not LDS.  But Dabakis is gay, and I am not.  I may not be able to completely understand what a gay person goes through, but I think I can understand what a gay person in the church goes through.  Especially here in Utah.  And when one member of the church sends anonymous letter of condemnation to another member, there’s a serious problem. This is the third or fourth letter of this kind, and the recipient’s sister explains:

Erik is an active member of the ward.  I’m assuming he hasn’t been to church in a couple weeks so the author must have assumed he had left the church. The letter was left on my parents front door in a plain white envelope. My parents as well as Erik live in South Ogden. This is the third or fourth letter left for him. It greatly upsets my parents.

The letter:

Left on the doorstep. And NOT THE FIRST TIME

The words I have to describe this horrific letter are inadequate, but let me give it a try.  Aside from the vile rhetoric in this letter, there are three glaring problems with the author’s argument: Continue reading

Happy Native American Day!

Columbus Day is a government holiday that needs to be done away with.

Depending on the state you live in, it is a state holiday as well.  Less than half of the states in the U.S. still consider it a state holiday, but Utah is one of those states.  This means that not only do mail-workers, bankers, and other federal government workers get today off, but schools are closed and all Utah state workers get a day off too. No one else gets the day off.

Other states have gone a more logical direction, declaring it Native American Day; a more politcly correct celebration. One I can embrace whole-heartedly. Columbus Day is just an embarrassing reminder that millions of people died because someone got lost.

In honor of Native American Day, I’d like to share an autobiography written by one of my ninth-grade Navajo students while I was teaching in Page, Arizona.  I do not have a digital copy of the paper, so I  cleaned up some spelling and punctuation issues (what do you expect from a ninth grade kid, anyway?). Any words I changed are entered in brackets and I’ve added some photos and videos. Otherwise I am copying it exactly as written by my student.

The date on this paper is December 12, 2007.

I hope you’ll be as impressed as I was.

[I was born] in 1991 in Page, on April 3. I basically live a regular rez life–what people be calling it around here. We have our own slang words, our own accent, our problems in the Navajo place. It’s the typical rez: old hogan, old house, broke down cars.  In other words–ghetto. 

The rez is just like the streets. People die, drama, fights, gangs and drugs.  Poverty, violence, struggle  and the poor mostly reside on our reservation. Tons of people live without running water and electricity, but we still reside in an old-way society with a little urban in it. The good thing is that Navajos still speak their native language and know their culture and still believe in the old ways. Our mothers and fathers still talk to us in our tongue and they want us to learn to pass [it] on.

Then the bad thing is that no one ever quits getting high once they get into it. To this day my homies still come around drunk asking me to drink or to get high. Then I have to live with that every day and don’t get drunk or high.

 

[. . .] my father ran out on me when I was born and I don’t really know the story about that. I just heard that he was a drunk and spent most of his money on alcohol. Right now I have two little brothers, two little sisters and one older sister. Ever since, I’ve lived with my grandparents, six of my uncles, four of my [aunts] and my grandparents.

 

I had always seen drugs around. Ever since I was the age of five, I realized what it was and what it did. My uncles were alcoholics and my aunts used to party a lot when I was a kid, so I always saw it. I guess it was normal to see drugs around, to know it killed some of m relatives and sent my uncles to do time in the pen. My grand parents always talk to me not to do drugs but there was no use; it was an every night thing. I always [saw] my uncles fight because they were drunk. My oldest uncle named John is locked up now; and he did eight years and is coming back soon.

 

Well as I got older, I started to get into drugs and I used it and abused it. At the age thirteen I started drinking, getting drunk and high. I started to drop out of school an all I did was get high and drunk. I had to go to summer school to pass my grade. I kept on getting high and that’s all I thought life was all about, but I was wrong.

 

I did stress about myself and why I didn’t have a dad. I was stressing about how it would have been if he would be around. In reality, I found out that it was a stupid reason and he was a stranger in my life, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

 

As I got older I kind of got tired of partying because I was doing it every night. I tried to stop but peer pressure sucks, and my friends keep persuading me, saying “we’re going to have a good time.” Then I find myself drunk with my friends again. Also I’d find myself with a pipe in my hand, trying to catch a high. I guess I was really addicted for a while. Then all of a sudden I find myself locked up in a juvenile facility where I was locked up for criminal damage and minor consumption. The police also identified me as a Crip gang member, which I had started with my friends.

 

Native Warrior tat

We named our gang, our clique, Native Crips, also known as NC, behind the Warrior Society in the prison system . When I started the gang I just told my friends we should start a group so we could back each other up and watch one anothers’ backs out of it because w had problems with the Bloods, AKA BitterSpring Bloods. We had problems with them. We always did.  Therefore, they didn’t like us, we don’t like them.

 

As we started to get known, hangin’ around in a group wearing our blue colored bandanas, I honestly never thought the cops  would ever get involved with our so-called gang. As we started to drink, we got arrested and we threw signs in the cops’ faces. And they knew.  Ever since then, they [could] also identify the bloods, so they knew we had problems.

 

As I was saying, when I got locked up, I didn’t like it.  I started thinking about my life and if I were going to continue what I was doing. I would end up dead or in prison. I knew that, and I looked and thought about my family members that were locked up or that died because of drugs and what it does to you. So when I got released, the judge gave me a year of probation and told me not to hand out with my friends because we were known as The Crips. Then I thought deeply; if I continue this behavior with the gangs, I wouldn’t go nowhere in life. I thought if the gangs keep growing, that people’s lives are going to end because of colors, and I don’t want that for my people. Especially the next generation.

I don’t remeber the name of the student, but I hope that he meant what he said about getting out and getting clean.  It’s not an easy thing to do when you live on the Rez.  Especially since the rez life is so hard and leaving it means leaving your identity as a part of the Navajo culture.

When I was in college, I minored in geography.  I learned about the American holocaust from a class on the geography of American history.  The video below says that over 19 million people died “according to conservative estimates.”  I remember reading estimates closer to 80 million, counting both continents (Donald W. Meinig, The Shaping of America, 1986).  This video  explains what I am talking about.  It’s half an hour long, but well worth the time.

 

 

 

Corrections on Political Correctness

 Word Nerd at work.

I’ve always called myself a grammar nazi, but I’ve decided to quit doing so because it’s just not politically correct. Speaking of political correctness, I’d like to discuss a remark made by Carol McKonkie in General Conference on Sunday.  It wouldn’t make sense to complain about “grammar” here anyway.  My issue is not with her talk (I liked it), but with her incorrect use of words; specifically the words politically and incorrect.

I must set the record straight on this issue. When we speak of politics, we are speaking of the way that we manage our affairs in public.  Politic is where we get the word polite from.  In adverb form, we use the term politically, to describe our behavior in public. This is a very commonly misused term.  The correct term is politicly, an adverb describing tactful and diplomatic behavior.  Either way, the terms have come to mean the same thing. 

In her General Conference talk on Sunday, Mckonkie said:

According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.

When she uses the term politically incorrect, McKonkie is implying that it is okay to offend people when religion is involved. It’s a simple misunderstanding of the term, but implicit in that misunderstanding is permission to cause discomfort for others.  Political incorrectness can also be applied to so what? and it’s what I believe, just deal with it attitudes.  We share the gospel with others because it makes us happy and we want others to share in our happiness.  How can we make others happy or convince them that they want our happiness when we begin by making them feel uncomfortable around us?

I believe in, and support Thomas S. Monson as a living prophet.  Being a free-agent gives me the right to do so.  That same agency affords my neighbor the right to reject a living prophet, and even to reject Jesus Christ as her savior, but it doesn’t give me the right to reject my neighbor or to behave in an offensive manner towards her.  My belief in a living prophet may not be popular or even socially acceptable, but as long as I am not pushing my beliefs on others, my belief in a living prophet is politically correct.

Purposeful political incorrectness is damaging to the first precept of the church’s mission “to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1981 pg. 5)” No one will be interested in hearing more about the Gospel if we are busy offending everyone.

If I could, I would ammend Mckonkie’s statement:

According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.

And then I would be able to agree with her.

Civility

“I hope this means that teens will find more acceptance and love in their homes. We don’t need more homeless [or suicidal] teens.” -Steve Evans

By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog

I watched Elder Oaks’ Saturday afternoon remarks with great interest; being somewhat familiar with talks he has given over the last few years, I anticipated that he would address the issue of same-sex marriage, as he has done in the past. And while same-sex marriage was one of the subtexts that ran throughout his address, Elder Oaks’ topic was instead on the challenge of loving others and living with differences. He focused on a key question: why is it so difficult to have Christlike love for one another? He addressed that question and by so doing, offered counsel that was heartily welcome if not new.

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Jeffrey R Holland: He da man!

Yes, Uchtdorf is usually my favorite speaker in general conference, but Jeffrey Holland is giving the ol’ German a run for his money!  Elder Holland’s talks always ring true to me, and this time, his was my favorite.  So I decided to try my hand at creating a new meme just for Saturday afternoon’s conference address: elder holland

And if once wasn’t enough, watch it here:

Or, you can watch the whole thing: 

Here are some more Elder Holland memes that I love:  Well, that was fun.  I’ll have to do this for President Uchtdorf next week.