Illegal Immigration Hurts Everyone, Including Those Left Behind

I came across a comment as I was wasting time on social media that got me in the mood to do some research. The comment was something to this effect, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump took the money that would be used to build a border wall and invest it in education.” Well, my thought is that a border wall is an investment in education.  A border wall is also an investment in healthcare, the United States economy, and reduction of crime and the costs associated.

The issue of illegal immigration is a complex, often emotional debate. We are talking about human beings, which should never be taken lightly. No one wants to see families living in dangerous conditions with violence, drugs, inadequate nutrition and healthcare, lack of good-paying work, and basic squalor. Many of us believe in the directive to love our neighbor and to share our riches so that no one suffers.  I believe in those ideals. I also believe that by allowing individuals and families to come to our country without going through proper procedures, we are inviting more suffering and degradation not only to our own country, but to the country from which they come.

The Pew Research Center estimates that there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), these illegal immigrants cost us more than $134.9 billion annually. This number takes into account the $18.9 billion the government receives in taxes from the illegal immigrants who pay. This is a staggering amount of money that could be used in ways to better our education, healthcare, infrastructure, and more. The Center for Immigration Studies reports that if the border wall stops 9-12 percent of the illegal border crossings, the border wall would pay for itself in 10 years.

In response to the comment on social media about education, this border wall could help decrease classroom sizes and increase resources available to students and teachers, allowing for a better quality of education. In accordance with the Supreme Court decision of 1982, illegal immigrant children cannot be denied education. A Pew Hispanic Study found illegal immigrant children and American-born children of illegal immigrants comprised an estimated 6.8 percent of the enrollment of kindergarten to grade 12 students in public schools in March 2008. These children contributed to the overcrowding of public schools and the decrease in available resources for students. According to an article on AJC.com, “Educating Illegal Immigrants is Costly” by Lance T. Izumi, U.S. schools spend approximately $12,000 per student, multiply that number by the 3.7 million students with illegal immigrant parents, and the total funding cost is more than $44 billion.  Add to that the cost of building more and larger schools to accommodate the increase in students.

Illegal immigration impacts more than education. Healthcare for a large population that does not have insurance or who use government-paid assistance such as Medicaid, costs the country more than $17 billion each year, according to FAIR. When I worked for a hospital marketing department, we regularly received calls from the media asking what we did for illegal immigrants who could not afford to pay their hospital bill. The same process applied to anyone who couldn’t pay, but the numbers were greater for illegal immigrants, we wrote the bill off as charity care, meaning we reported the cost of care to the government and were reimbursed. This is tax-payer money that could be used to better our healthcare system and for technology and research.

The prison system is another area greatly affected by illegal immigration. Information from the Government Accountability Office shows that 16.4 percent of the inmates in state and local prisons are illegal aliens. We are seeing increasing reports of illegal immigrants committing crimes after several deportations, as they keep returning to the United States. In addition we have a surge of dangerous gang members made up solely of illegal immigrants committing violent crimes. According to FAIR, illegal immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers $13.14 billion, again, money that could be spent elsewhere.

Illegal immigration affects education, healthcare, the economy and so much more. No one thinks that every person who comes here illegally is doing so with negative intentions. With all of these facts and figures, it is easy to forget the human side of this issue. Most illegal immigrants are good people. They are fleeing a life of violence and oppression. They want a better life for their family. However, there are other ways to achieve this than by illegally entering the U.S.

Many immigrants work hard and contribute to the economy by using their income to pay for food, clothing, etc. They also send a portion of their money home to their relatives still living in the country from where they came. An article on NPR’s website from February 2017, “Mexicans in the U.S. Are Sending Home More Money Than Ever,” talks not only about Mexicans but immigrants from countries in South America, who collectively sent home $69 billion in 2016. U.S. money is a major contributor in the economies of these countries, but do we know in what ways? These illegal immigrants who are being so kind to their home country are not contributing an equal amount to the U.S. economy in taxes and actually depleting much more.

What about these countries that are racked with corruption, violence, and crime? Many of their citizens are taking great risks to travel to the United States. So, who is left? The corruptors, the gang members, the criminals, and the few honest, good people who couldn’t, for whatever the reason, leave? So they have left their countries to perish from evil. How is life in these countries ever going to get better if no one stays and fights for change? If immigration reform doesn’t come soon, the United States will be busting at the seams while other countries see tumbleweeds in the wind.

Illegal immigration is an issue that affects everyone, not just in the United States, but in the countries being left behind. Republicans and Democrats can argue heatedly, using little logic and much emotion, but this is an issue that comes down to one fact, illegal immigration must be stopped. Instead of paying for education, healthcare, and government resources for people who came here illegally, we could use a portion of that money and invest in the countries who need help getting rid of corruption, gangs, and crime. Then everyone has a chance at the good life.

 

 

Advertisements

A Continuation

In my previous post, I discussed the role of the entertainment industry in the violent attacks that have manifested in our country and around the world. We have a fascination with guns and the “tough guy” image that is associated with carrying a gun and being the ultimate decider of someone else’s fate. We are inundated with movies and television shows that depict mostly men, but more increasingly women, taking the law into their own hands by using guns to rectify whatever situation is at hand. This casual use of violence in the movies has resonated with people who are mentally unstable and see this type of devastation as a way of making their own voice heard.

In the wake of the Florida high school tragedy and every over violent act before it, many are calling for stricter gun laws. As I stated in my last post, this is a much more complex issue than creating more restrictions on guns. How many laws do we need stating that murdering someone is illegal? There are many more components to this issue than the use of guns.

Another main component to this complex issue is mental health. We have a nation of youths that are being drugged legally. In 2014, there were 73.6 million children in the United States, according to ChildStats.gov, and 8,389,034 children were taking some type of prescription psychiatric drug, according to CCHR International. These drugs prescribed for ADHD, depression and other disorders, which have increased in prevalence six-fold in the years between 1993 and 2002 (WebMD article, Kids’ Use of Antipsychotic Drugs Rises) come with side effects including, increased suicidal thoughts, and changes in thinking, mood, and behavior.

Additionally, studies have shown that children are often misdiagnosed, or are taking an incorrect dosage due to lack of monitoring. According to Child Mind Institute, a child must have a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional to understand the underlying issues before diagnosing the patient. If the treatment does not work, the child should be re-evaluated before starting another treatment, and the treatment should be regularly monitored throughout.

Due to the increase in the use of prescription drugs to treat issues that could be treated in other non-pharmaceutical ways such as exercise or counseling, we have a population of children who are taking mind-altering drugs unnecessarily. According to WebMD article, Getting Started: Exercise for Depression, studies have shown that exercise can be just as effective as medication in treating depression in people of all ages. Additionally, the Child Mind Institute explains that inattention in children is often diagnosed as ADHD, resulting in a pharmaceutical prescription. Inattention is typically outside the range for ADHD when not grouped with other symptoms. The child may need help in expressing and dealing with other feelings through counseling, which will alleviate the need for further intervention.

You may think that this article is solely about children committing violence, but what do these kids grow up to be? Adults with a history mental health issues that weren’t treated properly. Adults who have been taking mind-altering drugs for years, even decades. These children and adults need better care than what they are receiving.

There are many factors that can cause a person to take someone else’s life. Using guns as a scapegoat ignores the real issues behind these violent acts. What are the pundits going to say when the new gun laws don’t stop people from committing crimes? Will they say we can’t drive cars or use knives? Both have been used as weapons to commit murder. When will the focus become the lack of regulated mental health care, the violence in entertainment, and the lack of accountability for our children?

Another fix, which I believe is the fastest and most reliable way to end this violence, is to bring God back into our society and our lives. By removing God and His wisdom and protection from our everyday lives, we have opened the door to chaos. With God, we will see an end to mental health issues, and end to violence against one another, and an end to the anger and hatred that has replaced love and compassion. Put God first in your life and everything else will fall into place.

Celebrities and politicians will continue to tout stricter gun laws as the logical way to end violence, but they are wrong. The issue is much deeper. Until we get to the bottom, we will keep seeing senseless tragedies unfold.

Stricter Gun Laws Just “Band-aid” Entertainment Industry the Real Issue

What happened at the high school in Florida two days ago, and in too many other places, was a horrible tragedy. I cannot imagine the emotions the students, teachers, administrators, and family members are experiencing. These types of attacks on our country’s children should not be allowed to continue.

The country is outraged and many are calling for solutions to this complex problem of murder in places that should be safe and against people who should not be in fear for their lives. We have seen movie theaters, malls, office buildings, and schools become locations of terror. We have a society of people who are afraid to go out in their community for fear of becoming victims as they go about their daily lives.

Unfortunately, the loudest voices are choosing to advocate for a “band-aid” solution that doesn’t come close to addressing the real problem. Stricter gun laws may deter innocent people from getting guns, but they will not stop the violence that is being perpetrated on innocent people. Look to Chicago for an example of strict gun laws doing nothing to deter homicides. Criminals don’t care if the gun they are using to commit a crime is illegal, they are criminals. They will use the gun anyway, or they will find some other method to commit their crime, such as the Home Depot truck used to drive into a group of pedestrians. To eradicate these horrific crimes, we need to get to the root of the problem, which has very little to do with the guns themselves.

The American culture reveres guns. In 2017, there was at least one violent movie playing every month. Many months had multiple violent movies vying for the attention of the American public. These movies portray shootouts and big explosions like every day occurrences, and unfortunately they are becoming just that. Add to that, the plethora of video games that put players in the position of wielding virtual guns and killing computer-generated “bad guys” or just anyone who gets in the way.

In our culture, carrying a gun is “bad ass.” Actors get paid millions of dollars to play cool guys with a gun in each hand shooting at anyone who tries to block their mission. For an hour and a half, we rally behind the protagonist who is somehow justified in brutally killing his adversaries. Usually, these gun-wielding tough guys come out in the end without a scratch, or they look even tougher if they get hurt but keep on shooting. These are the same actors who are keeping the real-life victims of violent crime and their families in their thoughts and prayers. They would do better to stop acting in roles that glorify gun violence and give vulnerable people the idea that shooting our enemies is the answer to any conflict.

So many times, we hear that violence in movies and games is just entertainment and that everyone knows how fake it all is. The people who commit murder are not mentally stable. They do not realize that what you see in the movies is not a suggestion for real life. When violence is viewed over and over again, we become desensitized. These attackers are not able to separate entertainment from reality. They believe they are fighting the bad guys, just like their favorite actor.

The members of the entertainment industry, who are always calling for stricter gun laws while being guarded by gun-toting security, need to realize that they are part of the problem. The more we continue to glorify gun violence in entertainment, the more we will see these tragic, real-life shootings. Stop the pretend violence, stop the real violence.

Why are Some Public Schools Better than Others? All Children Deserve a Good Education.

I have lived a sheltered life. I grew up in the suburbs riding my bike down the middle of the street and playing basketball in my driveway. I went to a school where we all had our own books and the heaters kept us warm in the freezing cold winters. I don’t know what it is like in the inner city. I don’t know what it is like to go to a school that doesn’t have enough teachers or resources for the students. I never feared for my life while walking through my neighborhood. No one offered me drugs until I was in college. I had a mom at home and a dad who worked a good job and came home every night. It makes my heart cry out to think of all the children, of every race and ethnicity, living in conditions opposite to mine.

It is easy to say that everyone in America has the opportunity to succeed. It may be essentially true, but the journey is not the same for everyone. Some children have internal issues, such as disabilities or emotional issues. Other children, of all races, have external barriers to break through, like the ones listed above. I am not going to try to say one is easier to deal with than the other. I just know that if I had to live in conditions that some children suffer through each day, I would feel like success is less of a goal than survival.

To allow these children to focus on success, to build good lives for themselves, we must remove some of the obstacles. It is often lectured that education is the key to success. So, why do we have children all over the country attending schools that aren’t fit for learning? Why is there such a discrepancy in the condition of the schools, the teachers, the resources, and the programs based on the location of the school?

In the United States, 65 percent of school revenue and 29 percent of all school funding for secondary and elementary schools comes from property taxes*. Is it fair to use this method when inner cities usually consist of apartments and other types of housing that don’t produce property taxes? This method creates a divide in the education for inner city school children compared to suburban children whose property taxes allow for greater funding leading to better and more advanced resources. My suggestion is to pull the property taxes for the entire state and equally divide the revenue based on the number of children served. This will allow for more equality in the schools no matter their physical location. Give the children an even playing field.

There are always examples of adults who broke out of poverty and overcame the odds to become successful, but these people are not the norm. It is nice to think that everyone has the motivation and the fortitude to keep going through adverse situations, but children shouldn’t have to overcome freezing cold schools, a lack of nutritious food in the cafeteria, out-of-date educational resources, and a lack of teachers to provide them with the most important tools they need to succeed in life.

It is bad enough that some of these children have to walk through gang territories to get to school, once they are there they should feel safe and warm, and they should be met with resources and teachers ready to prepare them for adulthood. Otherwise, they might as well stay home. And many of them do, creating a viscous circle of uneducated men and women who have few options in life.

As a society, we need to pull together and repair our school system. The schools across the nation need to be representative of what we want for our children. The buildings need to be safe, air conditioned, and outfitted with the latest resources. Books and technology should be available for every student. Our teachers need to be paid as management, because they are managing our future. Proper incentive is imperative to attract and maintain a high level of educators and support staff. If we focus on the education of our children, our future will be full of success stories.

 

*http://eyeonhousing.org/2011/09/the-importance-of-property-taxes-for-schools/

Is the U.S. Really a Nation of Racists?

A few days ago, I was in a situation in which I needed to apologize for a misunderstanding between me and another woman, whom I had never met before. It was a one-time occurrence, as I would probably never see her again. I am white. She is black. I apologized because the misunderstanding was my fault. She was perfectly polite and seemed to hold no ill-will against me. We parted ways with a few pleasantries and went about our business.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought any more about the situation. This day, however, I couldn’t help but wonder how the woman felt about me. I wondered if she thought I was an over-privileged white woman. I wondered if she secretly disliked me because I am white. I wondered if I should have done more for her in an effort to prove that there was no racial bias on my part, which of course would have been overcompensating.

As a child, I never thought about things like race or ethnicity. I don’t think children do. As an adult, race is on my mind more than I think it should be. Race has become glaring to me and I will admit it makes me uncomfortable. Not in a way that some people think is good…that “uncomfortable” that causes awareness and makes good change. Instead, the continued talk in the media about our differences based on race has robbed me of an innocence that I think was good. That child-like innocence; when two young children meet they don’t see race or culture. They see another child. Racism and prejudice is a learned mindset.

Although I haven’t always been submersed in a multi-race and multi-cultural environment, I was innocent in my thoughts about people of other races and ethnicities. That has changed. I still believe that a person should be judged by their actions, but I now see that there are so many people, of all demographics, who focus on a person’s appearance instead of their worth. Unfortunately, because of the influence of the media, I am now hyperaware of race and the new stereotypes that have been put forth.

The rioters and the protestors, and organizations like Black Lives Matter and the Neo-Nazis paint a picture of whites against blacks and blacks against whites. Their influence has made me wonder if I live in a country full of racists. Yet, I know that these groups represent such a small percentage of the country. In all my life, and in all the places I have lived, I have met only one person who was openly racist. Unfortunately, I find myself wondering if every non-white person I meet is prejudice against me. Perhaps that is what people of color have always wondered.

My purpose in writing this is to ask if reality is really what the media has portrayed. Are people really as angry as the news, celebrities, and advocacy groups lead us to believe? When I watch the news, I get the impression that the country is a hotbed of hatred and anger, and that black people have nothing but revenge on their minds and that white people are actively persecuting other races. However, when I am out in my community, which encompasses people of many different backgrounds, I don’t see the same emotion. I see people smiling at one another. I see people being helpful and kind. I see people working together in positive ways.

So, I am confused, and I mean that genuinely. I didn’t live through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. I know there are nuances that I just don’t understand because I have not shared the same experiences. I have never been discriminated against based on my skin color. I can’t imagine the pain, frustration, and anger that would cause.  I do know, though, that we are blessed to live in a country where we can learn from our differences and we can work together to make life better for everyone.

I will probably never know what the woman to whom I apologized really thought of me. But, I refuse to think that everyone with whom I come in contact is a representative of what the media is portraying. I will treat everyone with respect. By doing anything else, I would be feeding into the idea that we are all harboring prejudice against one another, and I simply cannot believe that is true.

We are all made the same. It is our differences that make us unique and beautiful.

 

Halloween Costumes are Not Appropriation of Culture

With halloween coming up, I want to weigh in on the costume drama that I am seeing on the social media sites. I’m writing about the idea that children should not dress as characters of a different race or ethnicity, because it is deemed “appropriation” of another culture.  The one character that seems to enter into many of the conversations is Moana, mainly because the movie is one of the most recent Disney films. Have we, as a society, reality come to a place where little girls cannot dress as their favorite cartoon character? Are we really going to dash a small child’s imagination and creativity for political correctness?

I’m not sure if this new rule is aimed solely at white children given the surge of white privilege arguments, or if black children can’t dress as Mulan, and Asian children can’t dress as Elsa, but it is all ridiculous. I would think that the same people who cry about being tolerant and everyone being equal would love the fact that children are learning about other cultures. The children’s desire to dress like a character signifies that they find something admirable in their personality, such as determination, bravery, and wisdom. Why do we want to teach our children that only certain people can hold these characteristics? These children aren’t ridiculing the peoples of these cultures, they are admiring them.

There is a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Let your young child dress as the character they admire. Who knows? Maybe they will grow up to have some of these admirable traits.

Sexual Harassment – An Unpopular Viewpoint (Maybe)

I went to an ice cream shop with a friend the other day and enjoyed my favorite flavor, cookies n’ cream, while sitting on the shop’s front porch.  As usual, the place was busy with families, couples on date night, and teenagers enjoying their youth. I couldn’t help but take notice, as most others did, when three teenage girls came walking up from the parking area. Each one had a similar version of the same outfit. Tank top, low cut, worn with high-heeled boots and shorts so short their butt cheeks were escaping the fabric. Their make-up was heavily applied and they seemed very aware of the attention they were receiving.

I heard one mother tell her young daughter, “Don’t think you will ever be allowed to dress like that.” The girl, who was probably about seven or eight, replied with big eyes, “I know, I won’t.” But then said a little softer, “But boys like girls who dress like that.” I turned away, but not before I saw the mother’s look of shock.

In the past couple of months, and even more so in the last two weeks, we have heard numerous accounts of prominent men being called out for sexual harassment and assault. Yet, it still surprises me every time I hear women saying that they are free to dress and act any way they want and the men are all, 100 percent, to blame. Now, before every women’s rights activist starts shouting that we shouldn’t blame the victim, let me say that no woman deserves to be treated with disrespect, harassment, or violence. Men need to keep their hands, and every other body part, to themselves unless expressly invited to do otherwise. Also, I know there are victims who never wore a provocative outfit or flirted in their lives. However, there are some situations that could have been avoided and women have to get past saying that men need to change (because men who do these things are not going to change) and take the responsibility for themselves or these assaults will keep happening.

We all live in a world where the topic of sex and sexual images bombard us every day. Very provocative images of women cover magazines, movies, television, and billboards. Women go around wearing short-shorts, mini-skirts, low-cut shirts and less. These sexual images are chalked up to women’s rights to express themselves and feel free with their own body.

Let’s get real. Why do women dress like this? Think about what the young girl at the ice cream shop told her mother. We can say we feel comfortable or beautiful. We can say it’s a form of expression. But, we all know that when we dress to be sexy, it is an effort to attract men (or for some women, it is an effort to look better than other women, but still ultimately to be more attractive to men). It does feel good to be thought of as beautiful and sexy, there is nothing wrong with that. I believe that we can achieve this in other ways.

In the last few days, two women, an actress and a politician, have come out with similar views. They have each faced angry backlash, but they are absolutely right.  When women wear provocative clothing and flirt with men, we are sending a message. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose who receives this message. There are men out there who are so warped that they feel like the message is an invitation. They are awful, but as much as you want to say that their misguided thinking is their problem, when they act on these thoughts, it becomes their victim’s problem. We can’t control these men and their criminal actions because we don’t know who they are until they have committed a crime and it becomes public, but we can control ourselves and take steps to reduce our vulnerability.

Stop getting drunk in public places, like frat parties. If you weigh 108 pounds and you have to fend off a man of 200 pounds, you are less likely to be able to kick them in the groin if you are so drunk you can’t lift your leg.

Don’t go to or leave parties or bars alone. You are stronger in numbers. You and your friends need to have a pact to watch out for each other.  This goes for leaving any building at night.

Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your instincts. If you are getting signals that someone is behaving inappropriately, don’t ignore it. Get away, stay away, and get help. By keeping quiet, you let the criminal get away with his criminal actions and he will continue to assault other women.

Wear clothes that cover your assets. The politician who spoke out about women wearing modest clothes said that maybe she is “old school.” Well, maybe old school is what we need. Think about it. Our grandmothers didn’t have a problem attracting men. Women in generations past wore long skirts, little make-up, and high-collared shirts, but the generations have continued, so they must have shown their beauty in other ways. The thing is, a good man will love you in jeans and a sweatshirt. You don’t need to put it all on display for everyone to see. Your body is not what makes you special!

There is a small fraction of men who will prey on women until they are stopped. We need to do everything in our power to take away their opportunity to harass and assault. It is not a matter of who is to blame, it is a matter of stopping it before it starts.

The Las Vegas Tragedy – A Personal Story

Sunday night I was on a plane sitting on a runway of Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport. We were ready for takeoff when the pilot made an announcement that something was happening on the strip and we needed to wait. After about 40 minutes we were told to de-plane and wait in the airport, which was put on lock-down. It wasn’t until I arrived home the next day and watched the news reports that I fully understood what had happened. My heart is still aching.

I lived in Las Vegas for ten years. Important years, between 18 and 28, the ones where you really do your growing up. I graduated from UNLV. I was back in Las Vegas for my best friend’s wedding and, although I have been gone for several years, I felt like I was home again.

I am so saddened by the mass shooting that occurred a mere 36 hours ago, that I am having difficulty holding back my emotions as I write this. I am struggling with the fact that one person can have so much evil in their heart that he can destroy so many lives. I don’t know how that happens.

I have been praying for the victims and their families and for my own understanding and comfort. That is the only thing I know how to do. I know more people are doing the same and I hope that even more come to the same place. I truly believe that prayer is the only action that can fix this situation in which we have found ourselves. The situation where people are so disillusioned and deceived that they feel violence is the only answer.

My prayers are for peace and comfort for the families affected by this tragedy. My prayers are also for all the people who are sheltering themselves in dark places where their hearts are turned to evil.

For me, Las Vegas will always be a place of memories and friendship. I will always think of the ten years I lived there as a time of life-shaping and a great influence on who I am. I am grateful to have called Las Vegas home.

I will continue to pray for the city, the victims and their families, and all the emergency responders. I know I am not praying alone.

Athletes’ Protests are Empty Messages

The country is fuming on one side or other over the NFL players’ actions this weekend. I will not address the disrespect of these players toward our country, but will write about the situation from another perspective.

Colin Kaepernick started this movement of kneeling during the National Anthem in a message against police brutality toward minorities. In the time since, very few, if any, NFL players joined him in this method of demonstration. After words from President Trump, we saw a large number of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem in a show of solidarity. Solidary in what? Kaepernick’s message or their dislike of President Trump?

If the answer is their dislike of the President, they have risked alienating a large portion of the country to send their message. They speak of solidarity and unity while increasing anger and pitting people against each other. They have disrespected our country and caused further division.

If the answer is that they want to increase awareness of racism and so-called police brutality, they have chosen the most passive way of doing so. Taking a knee during the National Anthem does absolutely nothing to solve these problems. It is completely ineffective. If the NFL players, or any athlete or celebrity, want to make positive change to the culture of our country, they should use their fame, influence, and fortune to initiate programs in their own communities. Have they spoken to the leaders of the police departments in their own cities? Have they worked with the school system leaders? Have they volunteered with youth organizations? Have they started real conversations with leaders in the community? Have they developed programs and events that will bring the community together in a productive way? I know the sports leagues require their teams to be involved in charity, but do these individuals become involved on their own time? Or do they simply kneel and hope that other people will do these things?

Many of these men and women had to work hard and overcome numerous obstacles to reach their goals. They should use their experiences and obvious determination to teach others and be a unifying force in their communities.

Being a positive, encouraging leader is not about politics. No matter how you feel about the protests of these men, it is apparent that their message has nothing to do with making our country better, but is simply a protest of retaliation. Instead of kneeling and causing the country to become more divided in anger, these athletes and celebrities need to stand up and be examples of positive change in our communities. Raising awareness is easy, but doing the work of change is hard. Are they willing?

Civil War Monuments – A Reminder

Have you ever made a mistake? One so big that you often wonder what your life would have been like if you had done something differently? A mistake that has left a mark on your life either emotionally or tangibly? That mark serves as a reminder every time you slip and begin to make the same mistake. It jolts you back to where you need to be. Without that mark, you would repeat your error over and over again.

I am watching the events unfold across our country around Civil War monuments and symbols. I understand that there is wide-spread pain and resentment regarding racist acts that have occurred both in the present and in the past. Tearing down historic monuments is well-intentioned but ill-placed and it will not erase that pain. It will only halt the conversation and subsequently the healing.  It also increases the possibility that future generations will repeat the past.

Most historians say that the Civil War was not completely about slavery, but more about states’ rights. There is evidence that many of the confederate soldiers were forced to fight in the war and were too poor themselves to even own slaves. Families were torn apart, fighting against each other. Many families would never be whole again. This was an unprecedented time in our country and a time that demands discussion and understanding by future generations.

The Civil War monuments do not only serve as a commemoration, but as a reminder of where we were as a country not so long ago. They are our mark. If those symbols are removed, the meaning behind them is removed, as well. They will no longer serve as a conversation starter. They will no longer prompt discussion on the evils we have defeated. They will no longer remind us of our mistakes and jolt us back to where we need to be. Generations to come will think nothing of the War, and its importance will soon be forgotten, leaving our country open to make the same mistakes again.

Removing statues, flags, plaques, and other symbols of the Civil War may seem like a deterrent to racism, but the people with those beliefs don’t rely on monuments to fuel their hatred.  They have an inner fire, that will soon die out as more and more people condemn their actions. We have an obligation to our children and future generations to ensure that past lessons learned and the truths discovered are passed down, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us and how ugly history can be. We cannot strain out the bad and only teach the historical moments where everyone does the right and honorable thing. I have often been told that we learn more from mistakes than from triumphs. Tearing down Civil War monuments in an effort to remove mistakes will also remove the lessons and the open discussion. Our future generations will suffer for it.