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Gloria Steinem on feminism in the 2010s

1 Aug
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Gloria Steinham

This was published a couple years ago, but still so relevant.

You can call it, in general, a sexual caste system. Or you can be more specific and say we’ve demonstrated—at least in this country—that women can do what men can do, but we haven’t demonstrated that men can do what women can do. Probably the largest number of women are afflicted by having two jobs, and that has many solutions. We have to stop being the only democracy in the world without nationalized child care. Men are as loving and as nurturing as women and can be equal parents. We need job patterns that allow parents to have adjustable work time. Even though we should understand that everything is connected—sex, race, class and sexuality—there is still not enough a deep enough understanding.

Click here to read the whole thing.

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Like a resume, only better

7 May
I created a new presentation about me and what I do. It’s like a resume, only better! Let me know what you think of it.
View more PowerPoint from Andi Enns

Robert Bales not the only one to blame for Afghan killings

17 Mar
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Robert Bales in 2011

Robert Bales, the staff sergeant who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians last week, is not the only one to blame for his mental breakdown.

According to MSNBC, Bales has a history of anger issues and violence. He assaulted a girlfriend in 2002, and fled the scene in a hit-and-run accident soon after. He’s been evicted from his home in Washington state and had a host of financial issues including chronic unemployment. His wife’s blog also hints at family problems. Some of his platoon mates say he was known for drinking too much and acting erratically.

This is a portrait of a man under immense stress and suffering from depression. Those can only be magnified when serving in a combat zone – always on edge, seeing the citizens as potential terrorists, and trained to kill.

It was his fourth combat tour in 10 years. Combat tours run about 18 months on average, according to Men’s Health magazine. Even if you assume Bales was at the beginning of this tour, he had spent nearly five years in combat. Five years is a long time to be scared for your life. It’s a long time to hold a gun with your head in the sand and wonder what’s coming around the corner. That kind of stress has emotionally scarred men who spent just one tour experiencing it – let alone four.

Instead of focusing on Bales and his faults, we should also put a spotlight on the men and women who made the decision to keep Bales in Afghanistan. While they didn’t wield the guns that took the lives of Afghan children, they put Bales on that base. They kept him there despite three previous tours, an alcohol problem, and anger management issues. And while they didn’t fire the gun, they did put it in Bale’s hands.

No soldier ends up deployed on accident.

Instead of reporters taking photos of the house where Bale’s family lives or trying to contact him in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. federal prison, they should be asking for the name of his commanding officer, and then asking that man how this could have happened and how he is planning on preventing this with the rest of the troops. They should be talking to the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and asking how our military can better care for our soldiers’ mental health. Instead of focusing on one man and his atrocious actions, we should be focusing on making sure they never happen again.

We cannot treat this case as one rogue soldier. If something about our military system doesn’t change, we will continue to have men and women who cannot take the stress of combat anymore and do something that ruins lives – civilians, their families’, and their own.

If Bales shot those people, as he’s been charged with, then he should serve the time the justice system decides is fair. But his commanding officer and all those who made decisions that put Bales in Afghanistan that night should be called onto the carpet to take their share of justice, too.

Blocked in China

20 Feb

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My website is blocked in China!

An international friend of mine checked from his computer and discovered my website and this blog are also blocked in Uzbekistan.

I’m not sure what’s so controversial about my site. If you discover it, let me know in the comments!

 

 

MLK on staying silent

16 Jan

Andi’s note: Martin Luther King, Jr., has been dead longer than he was alive. Yet his legacy lives on – mostly importantly, in his words about overcoming obstacles and the role of silence in oppression.

This is a huge issue in today’s society. In an effort to avoid conflict, we stay silent – or even strive for neutrality – even in the face of oppression, ignorance, and tragic wrongdoing. I read a fable as a child about a man who sees an elephant stepping on a mouse, and the mouse pleads for help. The man says he is neutral on their conflict, refuses to intervene, and the mouse dies. The moral of the tale is neutrality is implied support for the majority, the tyrants, and the oppressors. I believe this is what MLK spoke of when he talked about silence, and why I wanted to share these words with you today.

  • History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

Resolutions 2012

29 Dec

It’s resolution time again.

First, here’s what happened to last year’s resolutions:

1. Make choices that translate into weight loss

I didn’t get serious about this until August. I made very little progress for the first 8 months of the year. In fact, it was hard to find any photos to show here, as most photos didn’t show my whole face or using an extreme angle. My wake up call was in August, when someone showed me a photo they took of me straight-on, and I started to cry because I hated how I looked. It wasn’t their fault – I was (and am) overweight.

1 January 2011

 

22 December 2011

These are photos from the beginning and ending of the year – everything about my make-up is the same except for the eyeliner.

In August, I moved to a new place – away from a household that was a bad influence on my health. Of course, I know I have no one to blame by myself. However, it is a lot easier to be serious about health when the people around me are, too. In August, I started light dieting (yogurt for breakfast, a frozen weight-loss plan lunch, and relaxing for dinner) and light exercising (walking an extra mile a day, 5 days a week). For relatively little effort, I am happy with my progress – I lost 25 pounds from August 1 to December 10. (I have not measured since.) While my pants size is unfortunately not changed (I just need a belt, not new pants) I feel better, my skin is clearer, and my joints no longer hurt. I didn’t get a sinus infection this winter, and a couple of my old t-shirts fit again. This has motivated me to have a more specific resolution this year.

2. Express my opinions on my blog

Technically, I guess I did. Like six times. Obviously that is not the intention of the resolution, just the letter of the law. This one is not nearly the success that my other wishy-washy resolution was.

2012 Resolutions

1. Lose 5-10 pounds per month for 12 months.

If I lost just one pound per week from now until next New Year’s, I would wear a size 8 dress instead of a size 16 dress. I could wear a bikini, shop at the stores I like (for more than jewelry!), and feel great about myself. If I can lose two pounds per week, my birthday gift to myself in September will be a new wardrobe in Size 8.

So, my mini-resolutions:

– Do at least 20 minutes of working out at least three times per week. (I’ve picked Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday as my work-out days, to keep it consistent.)

– Restrict eating fast food to no more than once per calendar week (Monday through Sunday.) No cheating and eating next week’s early. No saving up for eating it later.

– Continue with my light dieting of planned breakfasts and lunches. Add two non-relaxed nights per week.

I’m also going to start taking update photos of myself to see my progress. That will keep me motivated. To make this easier, my boyfriend has agreed to be my work-out buddy and try new healthy recipes with me.

2. Write once per week on my blog about issues I care about.

Adding a schedule to this goal will help me. If I write more than once a week, it doesn’t “save up” for the next week!

3. Become organized like a responsible adult.

My bedroom looks like my unpacking threw up on it. Which it kind of did. By New Year 2013, I plan to be spic-and-span in my living space.

That sums it up! What are your resolutions?

 

Peace journalism, world travel, the politics of doing good

28 Nov

I’m revving up for my trip to the Middle East over winter break – assuming I can get the money for a plane ticket. We’re down to the wire here, so something needs to come through and fast, inshallah. (That’s an Arabic word –  إنشالله – that expresses hope for the future. It transliterates as “God willing”.) It would be awesome if an airline would just donate my ticket! Dare to dream.

I’ve gotten some great attention for my trip – Kelly Evanson at the Examiner did a really great piece about my trip to Uganda on a peace journalism scholarship and my upcoming trip to the kingdom of Jordan. Then, my journalism professor, John Lofflin, wrote about doing good and journalism. He talks about my work in Uganda and Jordan, and is really very sweet. When other people write about what I’ve done and/or experienced, it sounds a lot bigger than I give it credit for.

Professor Lofflin’s blog post made me think, like his posts and Professor Steve Youngblood’s posts usually do. (Side note – here’s Professor Youngblood’s post about my trips, where he quotes my identity crisis entry from my online Uganda travel journal.) Lofflin’s post made me think because I wouldn’t have characterized my passions and my work as “doing good.” I mean, that’s what it is, don’t get me wrong. But instead of “doing good,” I always thought of peace journalism and community service as “doing right.”

I feel like it’s my duty as a global citizen to do what I can to improve this place we call home. Whenever I borrowed something as a kid, my dad would remind me to return it in better condition than I found it. I feel the same way about the world – I’m borrowing resources from the planet for 100 years or so, so I better not leave a legacy of violence, environmental disaster, and suffering.

The only photo on my laptop of just me and my Grandma. It's from 1990. I think I need an updated one.

I credit my Grandma Sally with my passion for community service. Ever since I can remember, she’s been a volunteer. She would give her very last dollar to someone in need, if she thought they would take it. (That’s not an expression. She’s really done that.) When I was little, she would show me how to do craft projects that would end up in the hands of people less fortunate than us. When she lived with us for a year when I was a teenager, together we made something like 100 stockings for deployed soldiers in Iraq, so they could have a holiday too. (Not just Christian holidays, either — we made Jewish stockings with the help of a local synagogue!) These are the memories I hold most dear from growing up.

My grandma still volunteers. Now that she’s retired, she volunteers several days a week with various organizations. I really admire that. (I wish she had a website or a blog I could link to, so you could see her work yourself. Maybe my weekend project needs to be Operation Blogging Granny. Actually, that’d be a pretty decent title, too!)

The idea of spending my life working for a place whose only goal is to make money kills my soul. I can’t do that. It feels so false. Especially because when you buy a thing – a shirt, a couch, a doll – you’re buying the idea of the lifestyle that goes with it. You’re not just buying a couch – you’re buying a retro-style piece of art that will make your friends think you are the most hipster of them all. Yuck.

Instead, I hope to make a living doing right. That’s a much more loaded term than Professor Lofflin’s “doing good”, I know. Who can determine what’s “right” for a community, a person, or – really – even yourself? I could not be so arrogant as to tell others what’s “right” for them.

But I think some things are undeniably “right”. Feeding hungry children. Equipping people with the tools they need to communicate about their bodies. Educating women in rural communities. Finding the bridge between enemies so, even if they can’t be friends, they can be neighbors. Showing families how to sanitize water. Eliminating domestic violence. Helping society’s forgotten people – drug addicts, prostitutes, runaways – to escape that lifestyle and find fulfillment. To give the ignored a voice.

These are the things we can (mostly) agree on. (I know some people don’t think drug addicts or prostitutes deserve help — but I challenge you to listen to a few of their life stories before you cast judgement.)

I straddle between two majors at Park University because neither one is quite right, but both are close. Public relations is the art of spreading a message and an action plan to a mass audience. Journalism is telling true stories from the community, and done right, gives a voice to someone who’s never been heard before. I love both of these ideas. I hope to land in a career that combines these into one job that impacts the community positively. A job where I’m not there to make money, but paying my rent is a byproduct of my work. I don’t need to be rich to be fulfilled (though it would be lovely to have the money to travel the world).

I know I’ll face opposition on this journey. If “doing good” can’t even been included in Park University’s mission statement because it’s too political a term, I can’t imagine what I’ll face as I try to “do right”.  But I guess if I can survive everything I’ve lived through already, I can survive anything.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.