Be Brave

In my heart I know that this is what I want:

I know in my heart that when I see violence, I do not want violence in return. I know in my heart that when I see people kill, I do not want them killed. I know in my heart that when I see these things, I don’t want them destroyed, I want them to change. I want them to know I want them to change. I know these words might never reach their ears; might not reach their eyes, but my prayers are with them. My prayers are with them like a black cloud: a promise. My prayers are with them as a stone on their backs. My prayers are with them as a weapon: a threat.

I want them to change because I know what’s coming. I want them to change because my God–their God–loves justice. I want them to change because they are my enemies. I want them to change because I have no enemies. I want them to change because they hurt my family. I want them to change because they are my family. I want them to change. I want them to change.

I want them to know that our God is Love. I want them to know that our God loves them. I want them to know that I love them, and because of them I know sorrow. I want them to know the names to the faces. I want them to know the lives they have taken. I want them to know. I want them to be sorry. I want them to change and to know that I’m angry.

I want them to stand where many have fallen. I want them to stand and break their own rules. I want them to stand and see their reflection. I want them to stand and know they’re forgiven. I want them to know that it’s hard to forgive.

My prayers are with them.

Be brave.

Be different.

Be changed.

Be defiant.

I ask that all of you would pray in your own way for the victims of any kind of violence, but also for the perpetrators, and for a more peaceful world.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Be

I Support Your Right To Offend Me

The attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris really hit home for me. My family has a few friends who live in Normandy, and for a little while we were really worried about their safety. Maybe it would have been less concerning if the terrorists hadn’t seemed so well trained and professional. For a while I was sure that they were going to get away, and who knows what they would have done next. Secondly, Paris is a big, modern city in a first world country with good intelligence and security in place. How were these terrorists able to do this completely under the radar? Apparently they had records and (as far as I know) were on a U.S. no-fly list. Shouldn’t they have been watched a little more closely? Lastly, it just seems to me that France is so close to home: just across the pond, as it were.

I know where France is. I can easily find it on a world map. I know things about their culture and history. My brother has been there, and we’re planning on going there as a family in June. Therefore, it’s more meaningful to me when something like this happens there. When something really terrible happens in Iraq or Syria, it does trouble me. People get hurt; people needlessly suffer; Christians are persecuted and killed, and that really is a personal issue for me. However, I don’t know much about Iraq or Syria. I don’t know their culture or history, and I probably couldn’t find them on a map. They seem far away, and the danger and the impact seem less immediate.

I was amazed to hear that several million people marched together in Paris in solidarity with the victims of the attack. World leaders put aside their differences for a little while to show their support for France and for freedom. “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) became a common theme. Charlie Habdo stood for freedom of speech. They published satire that in many cases was downright offensive, and they did it intentionally and to everyone. Honestly, I haven’t read their material, partly because it would take me forever (I can barely read French), but I know they have said and portrayed some nasty things about Jesus, and I know that if I did read it, it would probably make me angry. It bothers me when people use my God as a punchline.

However, what Charlie Habdo does is different. They do it to everyone, and they don’t do it out of spite (at least it doesn’t seem that way). While some, or much of what they do might be tasteless, I think the point that they are trying to make is that no one is perfect, no religion is perfect, and we all can and should take a step back and laugh at ourselves from time to time. That being said, I personally feel that intentionally offending anyone is wrong on a fundamental level. I also think that publishing offensive cartoons of Muhammad, in particular, was asking for trouble. I don’t know much about Islam. However, I do know that it tends to lead some people to violence. This is a well-known fact, and they should have taken this into account. The thought process seems to have been: let’s do this and see what trouble we can stir up. Most of the time this is just obnoxious, occasionally funny, and harmless. However, it seems that just because you have the freedom to do something doesn’t mean you should. There are certain people who just aren’t worth pissing off.

On a side note, my friend brought up a good point the other day: asking moderate Muslims to take responsibility for this kind of terrorism is kind of like asking me to take responsibility for the Crusades, or for people like the Westboro Baptists: something I refuse to do. I want nothing to do with these kinds of people, and it shames me that, because I am called Christian, someone who doesn’t know me might assume that I am like them. In my mind they are not Christian, and in theirs I probably am not. The same kind of thinking must apply to Muslims (I assume). However, no one is saying anything.  Granted, this happens in the Church sometimes as well: that a priest does something morally wrong and no one says anything or everyone tries to keep it a secret. However, what these terrorists did is not a secret, and no one has said anything. I would assume that doing this kind of thing under an Islamic flag must make people angry, but no one has said that this is not Islam. It paints a very bad picture of Muslims, but no one has said “This is not us.”

Ultimately, it comes down to this: two wrongs don’t make a right. Violence is never the answer. Ever. End of story. Charlie Habdo is offensive and blasphemous, and I support their right to be so. I support everyone’s right to be so. I would prefer that no one was, but I would never hurt someone over it. I just don’t watch or read things that I know will offend me. I can ask people not to say blasphemous things around me, but I can’t monitor what they say and think 24/7, and I don’t want to. There are peaceful ways of denouncing or protesting blasphemy. One can write about and against it. One can get a group of people together to peacefully and visually protest it. One can create art that glorifies love, glorifies peace, and most importantly, glorifies God. One can teach.

What we have to remember is that people died in this attack. people who we may disagree with on a fundamental level lost their lives. They should be mourned; they should be remembered; they should be prayed for. On some spiritual level, yeah, they might be “the enemy,” and, like us, they are children of God.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Please Read And Share This

I just found out about this via another blogger. Honestly, I can’t write much because I’m lost for words at the moment. I would really appreciate it if you all would take the time to read this and sign the petition. The gist of it is that a group of Christians were attacked at a church in India for singing Christmas carols.

Article

Here is the original site where I found the information

Christians Attacked For Singing Christmas Carols In India

A few days ago I was working on a project for school and I read another article that was disturbingly similar to this. Christians all over the place are being attacked and persecuted for their religion. I feel like I can’t do much from so far away, but I can at least share this.

Thanks for taking the time to do this and to pray for these people.

Stop. Just Stop.

Honestly, I hadn’t been following the Ferguson story very closely until just a couple of days ago. I knew what was going on but hadn’t been keeping up with it in the News. However, I think I knew enough to give an at least somewhat educated opinion on the whole thing.

We were watching the other night when they made the decision to not press charges against officer Wilson. I had the suspicion they wouldn’t, and I had the suspicion that things were going to get really messy really fast. I was correct. There are people on either side of the argument who believe that justice was not served. Here is what I think:

I think Mike Brown really did rob a liquor store. I don’t know, based on the evidence, whether he assaulted the officer or not. I also think that the officer could have stopped him without using the amount of force that he did. As far as I know, he shot at Mike Brown 10 or 11 times, and honestly, that sounds excessive. Do I think he did that because he was racist? I don’t know. Do I think that he did it because he was scared? I don’t know. I think in that situation they were probably both scared.

Regardless of what really happened, people are rioting. People are destroying businesses and steeling things. This kind of behavior doesn’t solve problems, and it doesn’t make anything better. It doesn’t change the fact that officer Wilson got off free. It doesn’t change the fact that a young man–my brother’s age–got killed. Honestly, these people are just perpetuating the problems. They are pitting police against civilians and blacks against whites, and they are not offering any kind of solution. This is a free country, and it’s completely reasonable for people to offer their opinions.

The fact of the matter is, though, that people need to listen. People need to honestly pay attention to what their fellow countrymen and women are saying, and they need to try and compromise. I don’t live in Ferguson, so I don’t know the situation well enough to make judgments, but there is an obvious problem there: otherwise people wouldn’t be making such a mess. Some would like to argue that race is no longer a problem in our country, and that’s simply not true. I think it’s much less of a problem than it once was; and it’s a much more subtle problem in many cases, but there still needs to be change. There will likely always need to be change. However, I think there more underlying problems that are actually more pressing.

Poverty and problems in the public educational system need to be addressed. Certain demographics tend to fall under the poverty line, and these same demographics tend to get a worse educational experience. The government has been attempting to standardize education, and maybe this helps a little, but in other ways is causes more good than harm. Not all students are capable of learning the same way, and I don’t think this is the answer. We we really need is well educated, well motivated teachers who are willing and able to come together and work in schools where there have historically been problems and negligence. Colleges need to work with these schools and work with their potential teachers, and it needs to start in elementary schools. Furthermore, they need to find ways of teaching that aren’t going to cost lots and lots of money.

Parents also need to be taking more of an interest in their children’s educations. Obviously it’s very difficult to stress this enough to the parents themselves, but people need to find a way. They can’t just keep making excuses and taking the easy way out. Children simply shouldn’t be made to drop out of high school because their families want them to work. Obviously there are cases where there is simply no other way for the family to survive. Perhaps schools should provide night classes.

Education and poverty are very closely linked. If people are well educated, they will be more likely to get a well paying job and will therefore be able to help their children move a head or help their community in some other way. Engineers and technology oriented people are in high demand right now. Perhaps schools in poorer communities should be encouraging their students to pursue these kinds of interests.

These changes are slow and not nearly as satisfying as breaking windows, but breaking windows doesn’t solve problems. Actually, it just makes the people who do it look like a bunch violent assholes. I want them to know that. They’re not doing any good by being violent and stupid. What they are doing is incredibly stupid. It’s not helpful, and it’s not kind; it’s not loving, and it’s the exact opposite of what Mike Brown’s parents what them to be doing. I hope they read this and know that what they’re doing is pointless.

I understand that very few people who are doing this are completely malicious. Some people are just frustrated, and some people are caught up in the hype. I just ask that they would stop and think about what they are doing. They are hurting innocent people who wanted nothing to do with this. Change can happen.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

My Enemy

Last night we started dropping bombs on Syria.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others have joined us in the effort to destroy ISIS.
Civilians will die.
Civilians are dying.
Countless civilians have already died.
We will train “moderate rebels” to be our ground forces.
This will take a year.
What will happen in that time?
Who else will die?

Israel drops bombs on Palestine.
Palestine fights back.
We were born into this.
We have never seen the beginning of war.
It’s all we’ve ever known.

We watch it on TV, and change the channel
because we don’t want to see.
But it’s still there, somewhere.

Countless little countries whose names we’ll never know;
who we’ll never bother with because they’re not a trade partner
or a threat,
fight each other;
fight tyranny;
fight against themselves.

Here in America it’s a constant game of checkers
with our present
and our past.

We pretend we’re sophisticated.
We pretend we’re above it.
We hold conventions
and make movies
and write stories,
But somewhere there’s a riot.
Somewhere there’s a protest gone wrong.

Somewhere a white man has killed a black boy.
Somewhere a mean man yells and beats his wife.
Somewhere a straight man breaks his brother’s heart.

And someone somewhere is alone.
In every high school it’s the same.
There are the ones who hate each other
and the ones who hate themselves.

There are those who feel alone
and those who are constantly told.
“Kids are cruel,” they sometimes say
and write it off.
They won’t read between the lines.

History is the great master of bitter irony.
It’s hard to deny that the nicest men,
the one’s who want the world at peace:
John Lennon
Martin Luther King Jr.
Christ,
are the first to die.

Someone once asked Jesus,
who is my neighbor?
who is my brother?

And Jesus told him.
Our brothers are the ones fighting far away.
Our brothers are the ones we’ll probably never see
and never agree with.
Our brothers are the ones who, like us,
need love.

But we fight in the name of God.
We fight about semantics.
We fight about technicalities.
It doesn’t make sense.

Forgive the people.
Don’t forgive the deeds.
People are wrong.
People are human.
It’s all a matter of degrees.

The Buddhists believe that one should never harm a living thing.
One should love the least of these.

But the rhetoric is wrong.
We say we have to fight for peace.
We talk about what it will take to destroy the enemy.
Destroy,
break down,
eradicate;
these are people we’re talking about,
and I have no enemy.

Open Letter To World Leaders

This is the letter I just wrote to President Obama, President Putin and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

 Dear President Obama, Ambassador Power and President Putin,

My name is Katie Curtis. I am a United States citizen, and more importantly, a concerned member of our human family. I have recently become aware of the situation in Ukraine and the hostilities between that country and Russia. Today, July 17, 2014, I saw in the news that a Russian missile was found in a downed passenger plane over Ukraine. By no means do I intend to cause trouble or point blame. Rather, I implore you all, as leaders of the world to take a look at our situation and see if you cannot come to a peaceful solution. Our world is so muddled with wars, hostilities and violence as it is, and I can stand no more. I was very young when the United States went to war with Iraq and Afghanistan, and I have grown up in a time of war, though I have seen almost none of the violence except for what is shown on television. Throughout my high school and college career I have studied the World Wars and the devastation they caused. I learned about the United States Civil War, and the Revolutionary War. I learned about the French Revolution, and the conquest of Napoleon. War is something that can be traced back to the beginning of time, and yet most of the time it seems so needless. I don’t have a concrete solution to any of the world’s current problems, and I have my own ideologies the same as anyone else. I know it is difficult to make peace with people you fundamentally disagree with about so many things. I wish I could speak for everyone; however, I am writing this letter as a Christian, and I am basing my requests on my beliefs. Jesus Christ, the person and God I follow, said that the two most important commandments from God were to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. He also said that we should go beyond loving our friends and love our enemies. I don’t know what this looks like on a large, global scale; however, I do know that it means going out of our way to create peace, even if it means putting the needs and desires of our enemies first. I think it is often pride and fear that do not allow us to do that. Having power is an enormous responsibility. It is the duty of those with power to care for the ones without. So often power is misinterpreted as the right to impose ideologies, false standards and our own prideful desires on others. If world leaders truly used their power properly, there would be no revolutions; if the rich used their power properly there would be no poverty; if the educated used their power properly, no one would be uneducated. This is what I truly believe. I know it is difficult to put aside centuries of developed ideologies and built up grudges on such a large scale, but it is your responsibility as world leaders and defenders of your people to come to a solution that upholds human dignity and preserves innocent lives.

Sincerely,

Katie Curtis

Life, Liberty, Happiness And Animals

Life, liberty and happiness; these are more than human rights. They are natural rights, belonging to all living, beings, especially beings that are able to distinguish between pleasure and pain. I believe that although different creatures feel pleasure and pain as well as many other sensations differently, it is undeniable that on some level, it is the same for all beings; pleasure is good and pain is bad.

Furthermore, I believe that since these are natural rights, given to all beings, they should be protected. The rich are meant to protect the poor as the strong are meant to protect the weak. This means advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves and who don’t have a voice or the capacity to use language. I am talking about the millions of animals that are tortured and killed every day for our food, clothing and enjoyment.

To put it bluntly, if you’re not a vegetarian now, you’ll be one after watching this movie. Just a fair warning, it is horrifying, but I think it’s important to know what really happens in the world, and it didn’t really hit me until I watched this.
http://vimeo.com/1753971