Dear Trump Fanatics

Hi, my name is Tracy and I am a moderate.  I felt it necessary to write you a letter explaining what exactly that entails as it often appears that you make assumptions about those of us who are not constantly adoring your darling elected President, Mr. Trump.

When I became a registered voter I was listed as unaffiliated.  My views tend to overlap both the Democratic and Republican parties, and I never felt strongly enough about either one to want to vote in the primaries.  In 2008 and 2012 I voted for Obama.  This was after watching all the debates and listening to all the candidates’ viewpoints on various issues.

I was never an Obama fanatic.  There were decisions made by his administration that I did not think were the best, and I never felt it necessary to defend him against those who opposed him.  Were there times when I defended certain policies and/or corrected mistaken beliefs about those policies?  Yes.  Did I feel it was my duty to defend every decision he made and blindly support him even if I didn’t agree with him?  No.

This election season I changed my affiliation to Democrat in order to vote for Bernie Sanders because I was strongly against Hillary Clinton.  I watched all the Republican primary debates, however, and actually thought having Donald Trump run as a not-a-typical-politician type could even be a good thing.  Unfortunately the more I listened to him the more I questioned his ability to be a solid leader.  The whole “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” concept just was too illogical to me and made my eyes roll anytime I heard about it.

With that said I will concede that when it came down to Clinton vs Trump the media was quite often very biased against Trump.  They rarely painted Clinton in a negative light.  The debates between the two were so much more “he said she said” matches that it was hard for me to even discern their viewpoints on issues.  The issues they did discuss were always the same ones, and I went into the election not knowing where either truly stood on topics such as education and the environment.

Because of my unease with both candidates I voted third party knowing full well my candidate would not become president, but feeling content knowing I voted my conscious.  I was very skeptical upon hearing Trump had won, but I had hope that he would surround himself with quality people who could help make good decisions and keep him in check if needed.

Two weeks into President Trump’s administration and already I cringe whenever I hear him speak.  I’m starting to think the whole political world is turning into a reality show as I know when he gives speeches they’re going to grate on me, and yet I continue to watch them.  I am not ready to say he’s unintelligent.  I have a difficult time believing someone who runs successful businesses could be a complete moron.  The fact that his wife is versed in several languages and all of his children seem intelligent says to me that he can’t be an idiot.

It’s his lack of vocabulary, however, that continues to make me shake my head.  The interrupted sentences.  The repeated basic words such as “special” and “great”.  The constant wandering from the topic at hand as demonstrated by his mentioning of The Apprentice’s decreased ratings during the prayer breakfast today.  Part of me feels that he just has to know how unintelligent he sounds and must be doing it for show.

My inability to tolerate his speeches does not mean I assume he cannot better the country.  I was very pleased in hearing that he ensured the US would not be part of the TPP.  I’m curious to see what his plans are for NAFTA and future trade deals.  His lack of concern for the environment primarily through his denial of global warming is of great concern to me though.  His desire to revive the coal industry and his approval of major oil pipelines worries me tremendously.

As a moderate I am afforded this luxury of agreeing with some of his changes while critiquing others.  I cannot wrap my head around those who choose to be 100% Republican and treat President Trump as if he can do no wrong.  I also cannot understand those being 100% Democrat and criticizing every decision he makes.  Extremists on both sides of the aisle are ignorant in my eyes.  Neither is willing to read or listen to anything that doesn’t support their beliefs or look for facts that counter what they believe to be true.

In summary, next time you want to call someone who doesn’t support President Trump’s every action a liberal, just remember there are those of us out there who are moderate and are willing to play ball with anyone who can agree to be civil.

Unfriending Ignorance

I never thought I would unfriend people on Facebook for any other reason but us not being friends anymore whether it would be due to growing apart, realizing we weren’t really that close of friends, etc.  I survived election season with only removing one person and that was because her husband was using her account more than she was, and I didn’t know him and his posts annoyed me.  I made it through election night and the days thereafter and even inauguration day by just overlooking posts which bothered me.

This past weekend, however, my tolerance level broke.  Two people are now unfriended and one I have stopped following due to their sheer ignorance in posting.  One’s posts against abortion filled my news feed.  While I respected his opinion on the issue, his inability to realize that the marches that occurred across the country and the world were about more than just that one issue was too much for me.  Another person’s immature memes were beyond juvenile for someone her age.  She erroneously thought that all the people marching were protesting Donald Trump as president.  If she had only watched some of the interviews conducted at the various marches she would have realized that while yes, there were certainly people marching for that reason, there were plenty others who sought to bring attention to various issues, not just protest.

The final person irked me the most.  A lady who I considered a very kind and caring person posted an article about Madonna’s speech and how her words sounded like a terrorist threat.  I will certainly agree that Madonna should have chosen her words more carefully and anyone who uttered them who wasn’t a celebrity surely would have been arrested.  Below the article several people had written comments and this person wrote back stating that she had neither read the article nor listened to the speech.  I can only infer that she drew her conclusion based on the article’s headline.

I was dumbfounded.  Why would anyone share an article that they hadn’t even read?  I recognize that too many people rely on their news feed as a reliable source of information instead of investigating issues and stories themselves, but to not even read something before posting it?  I felt like it was solid evidence of the inability for people to think on their own anymore.

Where does this ignorance originate?  Is it a lack of a quality education?  Is it an upbringing that relies on skewed viewpoints and a lack of exposure to other ways of thinking?  Is it the main stream media whose main goal it seems is to divide the nation with their biased reporting instead of providing solid journalism?  Is it social media where “information” can spread like wildfire with more people interested in propagating falsehoods than fact checking before posting?

With ever increasing uncertainty of truth from a biased media I think it is so important to truly analyze issues before forming opinions.  My husband and I will regularly alternate between CNN and Fox News because it is very apparent to us which way each of the two leans, and we do our best to listen for facts instead of opinions.  We read a wide variety of websites as well, often finding a story on one and searching for more information on another site just to look for similarities and discrepancies.  It can be tedious and it’s quite disappointing that it has to even be done, that what you read and hear from the news can’t be taken at face value but always with a grain of salt.  It is, however, the only way one can even attempt to find out the whole truth.

Trump supporters think Trump protestors will destroy the country.  Trump protestors think Trump and his supporters will destroy the country.  I think ignorance by both is what is destroying the country.

The Hate in Debate

All throughout the news coverage of the inauguration today I kept hearing the newscasters say how historical of a day it was.  I will admit that I have never watched an inauguration, and the only reason I saw/heard pieces of this one was due to my husband having it on TV.  I’m not sure if it is said every four years how historical of a day it is or if that phrase was unique to today.

In any case I will agree that history was made today.  A man whose main qualities seem to be arrogance and immaturity is now in charge of our country.  I’m not writing this blog to promote my views or spark controversy.  Rather I want to draw attention to something that has grown exponentially throughout the election season – the hatred within debating differences of opinion.

I remember the first time I watched the political debates on TV.  It was my senior year of high school, fall 2004, and I would miss the opportunity to vote by a few weeks given my birthday falls on Nov. 22nd.  Most of my classmates did not have the ability to vote either, but that did not stop us from turning our AP Chemistry class into a full blown debate zone.  There were only about 10 of us in that class, but 2 students became very passionate on the issues and were the key debaters given their strongly held opposite viewpoints.  Mr. Conley, being a genuine educator, allowed us to spend most of our class time the day after a debate aired discussing the various topics.  It was a very enjoyable and thoroughly educational experience.  At no point in time did anyone get nasty with each other, even the 2 who had the most heated exchanges.  The debates stayed in that classroom and when the bell rang we all rushed to lunch, taking with us expanded knowledge but never any resentment towards those with differing opinions.

In college I took a few philosophy courses and one was focused on contemporary moral problems.  Controversial issues ranging from the death penalty to abortion to stem cell research were discussed and debated.  One of the key elements to the class was formulating solid arguments, not just spewing personal opinions.  We were taught to find evidence that supported our viewpoints as well as learn the arguments of the opposing side.  There were some very opinionated and passionate people in that class and sometimes the professor had to interrupt, not because people were being disrespectful, but rather we would run out of time and need to move onto another issue.  Again we all left the class with more knowledge than we had when we arrived and no animosity towards anyone who argued the other side of an issue.

If high school and college “kids” could have civil debates with each other why does it seem adults find such difficulty in doing so now?  Is social media completely to blame due to it ease of attacking nearly anyone whether they be friend, family or complete stranger?  I have been utterly disgusted this week by the posts in my news feed from people on both sides of the political spectrum.  Not only is there a lack of respect for one another, but the full ignorance of the facts is appalling.

I do blame mainstream media for providing opinion based news rather than true fact based journalism, but everyone has the ability to research issues on their own.  I could also point out how often you see people arguing with one another on mainstream news shows with no respect for what another person has to say.  They talk over one another, they interrupt each other and worst of all they write off the other person’s views the moment they realize they are not in agreement.  This year’s presidential debates displayed much of the same behavior.  This just helps reinforce the idea that this is acceptable in debating with another person.

Am I irked by certain posts made by people with opposing viewpoints from my own?  At times and usually because I know they have done no research on the topic.  Do I feel an overwhelming need to attack them for it and try to force my thoughts upon them?  No.  My in depth political discussions are reserved for those who are close to me.  Those who respect me enough to not degrade me for simply not agreeing with them.  Apparently the vast majority of our society has not reached that level of maturity and decency that they feel the need to attack one another for no legitimate reason other than to reinforce their opinions.

If we are to truly “Make America Great Again” we need to start with learning how to decently communicate with one another.  To respect differences in opinion.  To not let one’s differing views define the relationship we have with them.  To stop disregarding what someone has to say the moment we detect they do not agree with us.  To act like civil human beings instead of self centered jerks.  To stop the hate when we debate.

A Letter on Greed

Dear Greedy Business Owners,

My first legit experience with you was when I worked at Weis Markets.  I began in Oct. 2008 and thoroughly enjoyed my job.  After about a year or so things began to change.  I still enjoyed the actual work I did and I loved my coworkers.  The environment began to alter however as hours began to be cut.  At first it seemed casual.  Oh we’re slow this evening so let’s allow someone to leave an hour or two early.

By 2010 it was a near daily habit.  No longer were people being sent home early due to the store lacking customers.  Instead we would hear from management that 20 hours needed to be cut from the front end staff’s schedules that week.  It didn’t matter if we had lines back through the store or carts piling up in the cart corrals, if you at corporate said hours needed to be cut then cut they were.

Customers grew irritated.  Cashiers were annoyed.  I was stressed and depressed to the point that I ended up in counseling.  Most days I spent jumping on register to help out the growing lines while trying to get the front end audits done and trying to help out the customer service desk worker since we were no longer allowed 2 associates to operate it.  All this while making less than $9 an hour.  The cashiers who would come in and work an hour or two of a four hour shift and be sent home?  Most only made minimum wage.

Can you honestly say that you made that much more money by cutting hours of your lowest paid workers?  Those meager paychecks that put gas in a high school student’s car, paid for books for a college student’s semester and supplemented a senior citizen’s social security check.  I heard how most of you received bonuses for cutting X amount of hours in a year.  I’m sure you used it to buy another Lexus because you certainly never gave it back in any form to your employees.

I survived you, but I am watching my parents struggle in dealing with you and it makes me cry tears of anger.

My mom who has worked for several of you at various jobs and given 100% despite never receiving enough compensation for her efforts.  My mom who also busts her ass everyday for you because she is a hard worker despite the lack of recognition you give her as well as the lack of a simple one week’s paid vacation.  My mom whose knees and feet ache from standing all day because you won’t let her or her coworkers take a simple 10 minute break to sit down.

My dad who has worked for you since he graduated high school yet barely makes more than those who are hired fresh off the street.  My dad who at 56 years old you are forcing to work mandatory 12 hour shifts as well as Saturdays and who you are threatening with a 7 day work week.  My dad who has more energy at his age than anyone I know (and likely more energy than me some days too) that because of you is worn out, sick, cranky and who gets no time to enjoy life because it’s being consumed by work and sleep.

I picture you as Ebeneezer Scrooge sitting behind a desk counting your monies.  Always looking for a way to make just a little more even if it means tightening the noose around your faithful employees’ necks.  Who cares if they’re tired and not paid well enough so long as at the end of the day you have what you want?

I hate you.  I hate you for what you did to me in destroying any desire I may have had in pursuing a career in front end management.  I hate you for fueling one of the worst periods in my life.  I hate you the most though for what you are doing to my parents.  They deserve so much better because they give so much of themselves to you.  I wish they could walk out on you, but then again you probably wouldn’t care because you stopped caring about employees as individuals years ago.  As long as they produce for you that’s all that matters.  Who cares if they enjoy their work.  Who cares if they’re meeting ends meet with what you pay them.  Certainly not you.

You are what is wrong with America.  You embody the greed that blinds people and divides this country by class.  I can only hope one day karma shows you the error in your ways and you see how you treated those “beneath you”.  I hope it makes you see people like my parents for who they are – hard working, loyal individuals who are more than just a means to lining your pockets.

Facebook Robots

I think most of us who use Facebook would say we have a love/hate relationship with it.  We enjoy sharing our lives with our family and friends and having a simplistic way to keep in touch especially with those who live far away.  We like not having to remember anyone’s birthday since Facebook reminds us of it.  We can find events of interest, keep up on daily news and play games.

Yes, Facebook is quite wonderful overall.  That is until we look at the clock and realize we’ve wasted half our evening on it.  Or we find out news from a friend’s status rather than a call or text from that person.  Or we subconsciously start comparing our lives to everyone’s and begin to feel depressed without realizing why.

Merriam-Webster’s third definition of the word robot is: a mechanism guided by automatic controls

Are we not robots in a sense thanks to Facebook?  We check it multiple times a day as if it is programmed into us.  We waste hours of our life just scrolling through our news feed, sometimes seeing the same posts we just saw an hour or so ago.  We log off our computers at night only to sign into our phones before bed.  We wake up and check it again as if something truly important happened while we slept.

What is it about Facebook that draws us in to the point that we lose track of time?  It’s certainly not for the enjoyment of it.  It doesn’t relax us like going for a walk.  It doesn’t connect us like an in depth conversation with a friend.  It doesn’t broaden our horizons, stimulate our brains or cause us to grow in any meaningful way.  If anything it dulls us by killing our communication skills, stunting our creativity and depriving us of time better spent engaging in something that truly matters to us.

Stop being a robot.  That may require deactivating Facebook for a period of time or even setting a timer to limit time spent on it.  Personally I have recommitted myself to not looking at it when I finish work for the day until I have worked out and/or done some cleaning, made dinner and showered.  Whatever works for you just find a way to stick to it.  Life is short; spend your time being more than a Facebook robot.

No More New Year’s Resolutions

For years I loved the start of the new year.  The chance to start anew with a fresh calendar meant the chance to wipe the slate clean and become a new person.  Or so I thought.

The more I think on the concept of New Year’s resolutions the more I think they set us up for failure by implying high expectations.  We create our lists and share them with family and friends determined that this year is going to be our year!  We will do more than we ever have – lose weight, save lots of money, find our dream job, take on the world!  Never mind the fact that statistically most resolutions are abandoned by February.

Now I’m not saying that goal setting isn’t a good concept.  I just think creating a year’s worth of goals to begin on one particular day of the year is futile.  Every month, every week and every day we have a chance to tackle a new goal.  Whenever people ‘fall off the wagon’ instead of thinking “Oh well, maybe next year” they need to think “Tomorrow is a new day.”

This year alone without ever having made a formal New Year’s resolution for any of them, I have accomplished several goals.  In August I decided to keep a log of my workouts to ensure that I never skip working out more than two days in a row.  To date it has worked.  I wanted to explore new subjects as I missed learning, and I signed up and completed two Coursera classes.  I’ve also watched several documentaries on a wide range of topics and in doing so have developed a passion for certain causes.  I’ve donated more money to charities than I have any other year.  I didn’t hold off and wait for 2017 to begin.  I simply made internal goals and picked my own date to start.

Every year I formally or informally create a resolution to write more.  This is made with the underlying hope that somehow that will be what starts me on a path to writing a novel.  I failEvery year.  Some could argue it’s because I don’t set out an actual plan.  Much like running though I cannot force myself to stick to a regiment of writing.  The passion has to be there or else it will feel like a chore that I will grow to loathe rather than love.

This year I’m not going to make that resolution.  I’m not going to make any.  I am just going to trust that when the time, energy and motivation are right for a certain goal then I will undertake it.  I don’t need to wipe any slates clean.  I’m not striving to become a “new” or “better” person.  I’m content to enjoy my life as it is and who I am as a person.  Life doesn’t always need to be a checklist of goals we need to achieve.

Here is to 2017 becoming whatever it is meant to be for all of us, with or without New Year’s resolutions.

Water – My Element

I believe all of us are drawn to one of the 4 main elements (earth, wind, water, fire) more than the others.  Water has been my element for as long as I can remember.

I am fortunate in that I have been to the Atlantic Ocean every year of my 30 years of existence.  This past spring I finally saw the Pacific Ocean as well as Multnomah Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the country.  I’ve swam in and kayaked on lakes and I’ve cruised the Caribbean.

I grew up not far from the Susquehanna River.  Thanksgiving and Easter were spent at my grandparents’ house where my cousins and I either played on the frozen pond or waded in the creek.  I spent my first year of college living on campus and often took walks to a nearby creek.  When I moved to Northeastern PA I quickly found both a river to run alongside as well as a lake to visit when I needed to clear my mind.  It seems I am always drawn to water no matter where I am.

Water calms me and opens my mind as a natural form of meditation.  It connects me to nature in a way that nothing else does.  It has the ability to make me appreciate life all while realizing how minuscule I am in this world.  I am in awe of its power to give life as equally as it can destroy it.

Tonight I ran across the Susquehanna River and looking at it from atop the bridge it finally clicked to me where my advocacy passion lies – water.

I am strongly against fluoride being added to the water supply and refuse to drink my tap water because it is added to it.  I feel anger when I read articles about states prohibiting their residents from collecting rainwater.  I want to cry when I see images of the glaciers melting.  I am appalled when I view pictures of trash accumulating in the ocean.  I loathe companies such as Nestle who seek to expand their business in states where drought is affecting the locals.

This is why I feel so much empathy for those in Standing Rock, ND.  They are fighting for the right to clean water.  A right that shouldn’t need a protest.  A right that every human in existence is entitled.  I feel helpless in my ability to assist them, but I can only hope that my bringing attention to their plight serves to help them.

Water is their cause.  Water is my element.  Because of that we are connected.