A shift in narrative to change the issue of Planned Parenthood

What if we flipped the narrative? What if instead of projecting Planned Parenthood as a woman’s right to choose, we instead offered joint fault? I would hardly think that a woman actually wants to have an abortion. From what I can see, abortions happen due to issues beyond just wanting to have unprotected sex. Whether it is career goals, lack of a father figure or monetary reasons, abortion seems to be the last option, after contraceptives and Plan B.

man-863085_640So what if we went back and addressed the root of the issue? Unprotected sex. While I gather that there are some places where contraceptives fail, the reality is that most abortions happen because people are having unprotected sex.

As much as people want to make abortions a women’s rights issue, the reality is that unless you’re some super human it takes two to tango. Why do we not blame the guy? In the midst of the women’s rights movement the narrative shifted.

While I believe Planned Parenthood should be examined and punished for what it did (or did not) do, I would say that the real power lays in shifting the narrative away from one individual, to both parties involved.

While a woman should have a say in what happens, the man should be held responsible for his part. I realize the issues with paternity tests etc, so maybe the man isn’t held responsible until paternity can be discovered but the reality is that if the man had to take responsibility in the first place, he would think twice about having unprotected sex.

I’m not saying that it’s a perfect solve, I’ve admitted some of the issues above already. But, I think the path towards finding a solution comes in restoring responsibility to the man. While situations would still exist for people to advocate for abortions, I believe that if you started with making the man share responsibility (beyond the child support system) that something might change. It might not be a lot, but a shift in narrative will need to happen in order for anything to change.

The end will justify the pain it took to get us there

This past week the song “Let it all Out” by Relient K has been stuck in my head. A mixture of emotions as another school year begins has been flooding through me all week. While I am excited to get started with another semester several realities have begun hitting home. The next year will see several changes for my life. I’ve been coming to terms with this fact in the past three weeks.

People who I think (or thought) were my friends will barely be acquaintances next year. I have begun to assess the friendships where I have invested. I have come to recognize more than one friendship that is fading or has faded out completely just in the time I have been here. While this saddens me, it as just as much the other parties choice to stop maintaining contact as it has been anything else.

I’m now beginning to make choices that will shape the future of my life. I will be applying to Ph.D. programs over the next few months. Where I end up going will truly shape who I am for the rest of my life. That means where I go is a major decision. It is a lot to digest at once honestly, between departmental concerns and geographical offerings there is a lot to be considered.

I have also begun working as the Assistant Debate Coach. This is the closest I have worked with students on the collegiate level. My excitement for the upcoming season can hardly be contained. We have the opportunity to make a big splash in collegiate debate and I have high hopes for our team. It’s going to be a truly great experience getting to work with the brilliant students on our debate team.

This semester also will host two conferences I am presenting at. I feel completely inadequate to present at either. It is truly an honor to have been selected to present at both. One is a major conference for my educational endeavors and the other is a local conference for my professional endeavors. The experience will be unmatched by anything else I do this semester I believe. The opportunity to build connections in both settings will be unparalleled.

November will mark our second year for the Arkansas State Disc Golf Team to qualify for the National Collegiate Disc Golf Tournament. We have high hopes for this year and I believe we can accomplish them. We will be working hard to ensure that we are ready for November to be able to take on the task of qualifying for the National tournament.

As I have been considering all of these things one seminal thought has come to my mind and it comes from Philippians 4. Paul says: “11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

In all of the anxiety, expectation and excitement of this upcoming year I have and will be content regardless of the circumstances. Whether friendships continue, I am accepted to the Ph.D. program of my preference or our team is successful I will be content regardless. I want to see friendships grow, I want to see each of these things comes to pass but if they do not, I will be content. I have learned that if something isn’t meant to be it’s for a greater purpose and I am excited to see what that may be.

A Place Only You Can Go by NEEDTOBREATHE

I’ve wanted to write something for the past few days but I haven’t been able to put to words anything coherent. What I did realize tonight was that there was a song that has really spoken to me in the past two weeks and honestly it sums up everything I would write about now if I could put it into words. Below are the lyrics and a video of NEEDTOBREATHE singing this song.
———————————————
Pain is alive in a broken heart
The past never does go away
We were born to love 
And we’re born to pay
The price for our mistakes

Grace, she comes with a heavy load
Memories, they can’t be erased
Like a pill I swallow, he makes me well
But leaves an awful taste

Oh, I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only love can go
There is a place only you can go

Take my notions and words to heart
This is the cry of a man
I can’t bring you fortune or noble life
But I’ll love you all I can

Oh, I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only you can go

Oh, I know this song won’t do
Enough to prove my love to you
In my heart you’ll always know
There is a place only love can go
There is a place only you can go

 

 

The World Network

I had the pleasure of eating dinner with my grandparents tonight. While at dinner my grandmother made the following statement “I don’t know how you and your cousin keep up with all of the people you’ve met”. I had never thought of this before. Some people like to argue and say that in our social networking generation that we are actually more disconnected than we have ever been. I would like to argue that it’s really dependent upon the person.

Today I had the pleasure of eating lunch with a couple that I had never met in person before. A couple that I have known for over three years now and am working on my second project for Jason. Before today all of our conversations have been through online avenues. We were able to sit down to lunch today and not touch our phones or get on the internet the entire time we were together. Not just that but we had meaningful conversation the entire time just like we ate lunch together on a weekly basis. If it were not for the internet I would have never even met Jason and Carol.

Tomorrow I leave for Dallas, TX. A friend and I will be visiting with one of our friends that we made while in China over 2 years ago. While it could have been goodbye when we left China instead we were able to stay connected through email and social media. The moment that we found out our friend was in Dallas we began to make plans to visit. When we get there tomorrow night it will be like we never left each other. We will pick up right where we left off, sure there may be some catching up to do but it’s going to be a great weekend with great friends.

Last week I returned from Paris, France. While there I met someone who attends a university in Missouri. Even though our paths may cross at future debate tournaments we have taken the time to connect through Facebook and other means to get to know each other and stay in touch.

As I left tonight my grandmother said “I don’t know where we would be without Facebook” and I realized that without Facebook my week would have been very boring. For as much as we gripe about how social media has changed how we connect with others the reality is that the three best things about my week would have not existed without this simple tool.

But more than being connected it’s about taking the time to connect with others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone to get to know them better. You’d be surprised on where it can take you!

Living the Dream

You hear this phrase a lot around the south in some variation “well I’ve been blessed” and the reality is that I have. The greater reality though, the one I’m still coming to terms with, is that for the first time in my life I am truly living the dream, at least in the sense of what’s going on in my life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still work two jobs and honestly between my two jobs and grad school most weeks I’m spending nearly 60 hours on all three of those. Somewhere in the middle (and amongst at times) of all of that I am living my dream.

For some reason our generation likes to think that it’s as simple “doing what you love.” It isn’t though. To live our dreams we have to be committed to many things. When I was a part of the “Quitter 100” I read the manuscript for Jon Acuffs Quitter and the one thing that resonated more than anything else was “Don’t leave your day job to chase your dream job.” We have to be willing to put in the hard work in order to see our dreams come to fruition.

Yes, I went to Paris, France but only because I was able to work and save money to be able to go. Someone didn’t just come up to me and say “Hey, I want to pay for you to go to France for a week” though it would have been nice. One benefit from the trip though is that I’m going to be able to be the assistant debate coach at ASU next year all things considered. I’m going to Dallas this weekend. Only because I work and I have friends who are willing to let me crash at their place. I’m going to North Augusta, SC to compete in the National Collegiate Tournament next month. I have been playing disc golf for 8 years in August and it’s only because I have put in that time and had great team mates that I’m able to qualify and compete in Nationals. Finally, I’m going to Denver in May. Why? Because I work for an awesome company full of awesome people that I can hang out with and go see 3 awesome shows (plus a cool choir concert) in a weeks time.

I’m living the dream right now, getting to see the world and do what I love only because I have taken the time to dedicate to each of these areas and to follow through with them while still maintaining a balanced life outside of them. Yes I have been incredibly blessed but it’s more than that. I have put myself in a position to live the dream and you should too.

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Be Yourself

Individualism is something that is heralded in today’s culture. We are all expected to be our own people and if we aren’t we are labeled a “poser” or whatever it is that the kids call them these days.

So what does it mean to be yourself? If you remember back to an article I wrote a week or so ago we know how identity is constructed (or not constructed). So if our identity is constructed by someone else or by what we decide we are not, then how can we be our own person? Is it through deciding what we are not? It’s a whole lot easier to construct the list of things that I am, than construct the list of things that I am not. Obviously my list of things that I am though creates a diametrically opposed list of things I am not.

What am I?

I am a….

Child of Christ

Project Manager

Graduate Assistant

Graduate Student

Disc Golfer

Son

Grandson

and the list goes on….

When each of these things (and more) come together they make up who I am. This constructs the opportunity for me to be myself. However, there is more to just being me. I have to think of how this construct will interact with the outside world. To quote Shakespeare:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts

On this stage we must determine how we are going to interact. In today’s world we’re taught to be ourselves and not pay mind to how others will react. What happens though when others reactions to how we act are not what we want or not what should be? Do we change our actions or do we still continue being ourselves?

I believe at some point we have to change. We have to resolve that in being ourselves or maybe I should say in becoming ourselves (since we play many parts) that change is inevitable. I don’t believe that all of that change has to be permanent though. I believe that compromise can be had in order to further a friendship or receive a sought after outcome. In this compromise though we may lose for a moment something that which constructs our identity we will gain in that moment respect for something that constructs someone else’s identity.

If we are unable to accept this then we will in turn lose part of what it means to be ourselves. Because if we cannot accept that others make up their own unique identity then we will never be able to completely interact on a deep level with other individuals.

In the end I believe part of what it takes to construct our own identity and in turn being ourselves is to accept and appreciate when others do the same thing.

Beauty in Desolation

Lets be honest, this winter has been pretty wild. Here in Arkansas there has been ice on the ground (not snow) for the past week. It’s still here. It’s probably not going away anytime soon because it’s snowing again. That’s beside the point.

Walking home Wednesday from the Communication building I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. It could have been the 20mph winds blowing through the sub-zero temperatures that was messing with my mind but I honestly found beauty in it all.

I looked around at this partially melted, lifeless mess and saw the beauty of it. Most people dislike winter. They would prefer a season where they walk outside and not be greeted by bitter cold. On most days I would agree.

What I realized though was that in this day in age where we can access everything we ever dreamed of this idea of a desolate wasteland is beautiful. We get to see what things are like without all of the distractions of the world around us.

Not only is there beauty in the desolation but there is hope there. A hope that is unparalleled to the coming of any other season. I think back to the story of Narnia and the Relient K song written about the very subject rings true. Not just when it’s always winter but never Christmas, but there is also a hope of a new season, a new day, a fresh start.

In the desolation nothing more can be taken from us. The air is cold, the trees are bare, the plants are dead. All that remains is the hope and expectancy of the next season. In this hope and expectancy is where we find the beauty. Not just in something new but in the fact that we get to play a part in determining what this new day will bring.

So the next time you have to brace the bitter cold that is brought about by the winter. Remember, there is beauty to be found in desolation.