In A Thousand Words Or Less (Pt.1)

This blog is about to be a lot more all over the place than usual, but here it goes!

I was challenged by one of my professors to write between 500-1000 words every day, and so I thought, sure, I can do that! Plus, there are so many benefits: establishing my writing discipline, exploring topics that I otherwise put on the back-burner, and (OF COURSE) the thrill of controversy! So, in a thousand words (or less, depending on how tired I get), I want to explore a topic that is completely misunderstood according to most Facebook posts I read.

*DISCLAIMER* There is no need to fear, I have no interest in talking you into or out-of supporting our new President. This is just an informative blog about a largely misunderstood part of our government.

POPULAR VOTE VS ELECTORAL VOTE

During every election there’s an uproar about something, and the roots are usually embedded in a false belief about our government and how it works. So, without further introduction, this is why the ELECTORAL vote is more democratic than the POPULAR vote.

*SECOND DISCLAIMER* This is going to be wayyyy simplified, but I’ll probably post more specific blogs about exactly HOW the electoral college works and how we can work on finding presidential candidates that we can be excited for and proud of in the future.

Definition time!

Popular Vote: The total amount of individuals who vote for a specific candidate

Electoral Vote: (More complicated) A total of 538 votes– each state gets a certain amount of votes, and in order to win the candidate must get 270 of them. (In addition to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Washington D.C., also gets a set amount of votes). In order to gain a state’s electoral votes, the candidate must win the popular vote in that state (there are two exceptions, in Maine and Nebraska, but I’ll save that for a different time).

In other words, while it might seem that the Popular Vote is more democratic, it is actually the Electoral Vote that makes sure all demographics and voices are heard equally in the states. Instead of pouring all of their resources and interests into a select few highly-populated cities or states, the candidate is forced to gain the support of the majority of each state. This is important, because (according to the US Census Bureau study of 2013),

the 5 states with the highest population carry 36.9% of the popular vote.

Bring it up to the top ten, 45.7%.

The top fifteen states? 57.55%.

That means 35 other states combined can’t compete with the high populations of the largest states, leaving large areas of the U.S. without a voice.

This system (along with plenty of other systems in our government) is NOT perfect, however, the system was created to prevent the largest, loudest demographics from having the final say in our government, not to complicate things with the “evil of politics.”

Still feel like your voice isn’t being heard? I get that, trust me, I do. But if you want to complain about something, start by examining the people who represent you- who are your local government officials? Who are your state senators? Who is sitting in the House of Representatives in your stead?

If you don’t know, you might want to hold off on complaining about “the system”, and instead start talking to the people who have the power to make the change. And hey, if you can’t find someone who does the job to your satisfaction, maybe that’s because you’re the person for the job!

Okay guys, looks like I made my word count! Keep on reading, and keep on asking questions– especially if it seems like the most popular opinion on Facebook! 😉

As my gov. professor always says, “Be well!”

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How to Break Up With a Girl

How to Break Up With a Girl

Not because you should, but because if you’re going to do it you should do it right.

 

So, obviously the dating-world is a process, and unless you’re really really lucky, your first relationship(s) is (are) going to be filled with strange, “I don’t know what I’m doing” moments.

Most people don’t consider breaking-up as a skill. In fact, the last thing we’re thinking about when starting a relationship is “Wow, I can’t wait to break up with her in a healthy way if this doesn’t work out!” If we’re completely honest, most of the time, the only thing we’re thinking about when that feeling hits our stomach and we realize the relationship is over (or about to be) is “Oh crap. Run, run, run.”

So, as someone who has been on both sides, as the heart breaker and the broken-heart (and sometimes both at the same time), here is some real advice from a poll of girls, because sometimes being a good boyfriend means knowing how to be a good ex-boyfriend.

 

  1. DON’T assume you know what is best for her.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

“I’m not a good enough boyfriend.”

“You’d be happier without me.”

“You deserve so much better.”

Telling her this isn’t going to make her feel better. It’s almost as if you’re saying she’s the one breaking up with you, because you’re putting the words in her mouth. Stop pretending you can read her mind (when we know you can’t because that’s what half of the arguments are about).

2. DO be honest.

Be honest, tell the truth, don’t lie. I’ll continue to repeat myself to make sure everyone knows exactly what I’m saying. Don’t try and spare her feelings, because if you lie and she finds out something fishy is going on, she’s going to feel much worse, and you will look worse.(Lose-Lose)

3. DO break up with her before you break up with her.

In other words, when that “I don’t think this is going to work” thought goes through your head, please don’t pretend like the thought didn’t pop up, address it! Think through it and, if appropriate, don’t be afraid to talk to your girlfriend about it. Otherwise, when the break up does happen, it might have happened in your head weeks ago, while yah boo had no idea you were doubting the relationship. Give her time to prepare.

4. DO take responsibility.

“God doesn’t want us to be together.”

“It’s just not meant to be.”

“It’s just not the right time.”

“We’re too different.”

While some of these are valid in their own way and in your own mind, when breaking up with someone, you need to make it clear that you are breaking up with them. Not God. Not the universe. Not your job. Not your friends, relatives, or that old, wise, homeless man who said something really cryptic and made you rethink your life. Otherwise it just looks like you’re trying escape, which will make her feel like she’s “trapped” you. Ouch.

5. DO give her a reason. This doesn’t mean she wants you to justify your thoughts or feelings. This doesn’t mean she wants to argue over whose fault it is, or fight just to fight. She’s not going to try and force you to stay, but give her something to go on. It’s true, sometimes things just don’t work out, but the value of relationships is more than just the relationship, it’s in the learning. She wants to walk away with something more than what she had before, not something less.

6. DO talk to her in person. If you can avoid it in any way, don’t break up over text. It’s disrespectful; even if you don’t value her as you did before, you valued her at some point, and she’s still a person. She may not be your treasure, but that doesn’t change the fact that she is a treasure. Treat her like it, and it will reflect well on your character.

 

I know some of these blend together, but they are all things I heard over and over again, both from friends and in my own relationships. The purpose of this isn’t to bash guys, because some of these things came out of my own mouth: girls can be just as bad and even worse at break ups, and I’ll probably write a follow-up coming from a guy’s perspective. The point is that we should do the best we can in every part of the relationship… even if it’s the end.

To finish off, because I had such a huge amount of feedback from friends, I want to share the funny, cringe-worthy moments that didn’t make it into my list, because bad break-ups eventually do turn into things we can laugh about. Sorta.

1.”I’m breaking up with you because… I’m gay.”

2. Has younger sister call, “Hi! [Blank] wants you to know that he just wants to be friends now.”

3. “Your friend is really hot, can you introduce me?

4. “My Mom doesn’t think I should date anyone right now.”

5. “Long distance is too hard, and my love language is physical touch!”

6. **Literally just runs away. Runs.**

7. “Your Dad scares me.”

8. “I think you’d be a better fit for my brother.”

9. “You don’t like Christmas enough.”

10. “I like a challenge, and you’re not one.”

11. “God told me we couldn’t be together, but we can totally still make out and stuff.”

12. “I like talking to you better over myspace than in real life.”

13. “You’re not athletic.”

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Lies Voters Believe: A Political Piece By Yours Truly

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This post is going to be the first of a series that I’ll be writing with my dear friend Taylor, but it’ll be more like a slow reworking of our government. Rather than solely complain about the problems our government has, Taylor and I decided to try and make a plan of action to fix those problems.

No, we have no degree, and we in fact are both still teenagers at this point (but not for long!). However, we did take AP American Government and Politics together during our Senior year of high school, and while that may not mean much to most, we had a fantastic teacher who wrote a VIB (Very Important Book) on American politics/government, and we both did quite well in our studies. Enough about that- Introducing Taylor!

As Julia has stated, we are by no means professionals at this, just two girls who have the pull to give people a chance at a new, fresh perspective. I was at one point an empty book, a follower following the blind, believing every word that I saw splayed on news stations and the ever-informative Facebook, and I let those words fill my pages. While that didn’t make me dumb, it did make it harder for me to know what was really going on, or have any sort of understanding of how our government works. I’m not saying I know all, after all I’m just a 19-soon-to-be-20-year-old who had a great Gov. teacher and a mind that is open to learning more, but I want to spur conversation that could make our great nation ever greater.

So, now that we’ve gotten that bit out of the way, I’d like to introduce one of my greatest issues with the government: The election.

While of course our country’s forefathers did a great job in giving each branch- Judicial, Legislative, and Executive- as little power as possible on their own, leaving the President with even less powers (including Pocket Veto and “Pardoning” a turkey once a year), a few problems have developed.

~In no way am I singling out a certain presidential candidate, what follows is simply a run-down of the problems I have with the election process as a whole. Corruption is on all sides, and comes in all shapes and colors.~

No one is ever going to find a candidate that is going to be exactly what they want, and we shouldn’t expect that. BUT. I believe that the reason the Presidential Approval Ratings have plummeted through the years has less to do with what the President is doing and more to do with who the people are given to choose from. Because “We the People” vote for someone we aren’t happy with, we become even more unhappy when the inevitable slip-up happens, therefore leading to lower and lower Approval Ratings. The bottom line is, if the majority of the population feels that they have to choose the “lesser of two evils,” then why are these candidates even options? Why has it become so difficult to find a candidate that has real presidential qualities? Since when do Americans settle for less? I think I have at least part of the answer.

Political parties and big bank accounts have hijacked our voting system.

Running for presidency takes guts, but it takes even more money.

Even there are qualified candidates who have a fair chance at making it to primaries, it is nearly impossible for any candidates to get the funding they need to publicize their candidacy, and thereby gain voter backing.

Unless… they join forces with a political party with lots of moolah.

That’s right, my friends, both Republicans and Democrats parties use this to their advantage. I’ll have Taylor talk a little bit more about this-

We all know money is a necessity, but think about it: if you have a multi-million dollar company backing your campaign, advertising to all their customers who they’re vouching for, and giving money to you so you can schmooze other investors, that gives you an INCREDIBLE advantage. You’re golden, literally! You have what you need, but there’s a cost, of course. Let’s make the situation a little more real:

You are an Independent candidate, you have some followers, people who support your ideals, a small business or two backing you, and you’re finally getting your name out there. A big company comes to you and says they want to back your campaign, they think your morals, ideals, and what you bring to the presidential table is great, but the catch is you have to give them something in return, your support for their cause. That could be passing bills to cut out competition, decrease environmental protection laws, or anything else depending on the business and its needs.

Now you have a choice. If you’re Independent, your party isn’t that big, and there’s not enough money to do without other supporters. So, you pay the price, lose your new investor to a candidate who doesn’t mind compromise or even agrees with the business’s ideals. You’re probably wondering if it’s worth it, if it’s worth giving up your morals? How will it affect your campaign in the future? It’s unfortunate that people with great ideas can’t burst through the walls of bigger political parties because they want to be true to their ways, to their ideals.

Money is everything in politics, that’s become the unfortunate truth: it’s torn apart what ideally use to be an ingenious process that this country was founded on. It’s important to remember it wasn’t always like this, that at one point parties didn’t exist, George Washington even warned future generations against it. If it didn’t exist at one point though, it means it doesn’t have to in the future. Until then, money and supporting ideals for personal gain is how one gets a foot in the door to being elected.

I think that’s a great stopping point for this blog, partially because if it gets any longer I might as well get it published and printed as a book, but also because I want to break it into smaller pieces and start talking solutions- how do we reverse the damage that’s been done, and give candidates who can truly lead this country a chance? How do we take away the power political parties have without breaking apart the whole system?

Anyway, thanks to Taylor for her input, and to my readers for making it this far.

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. -John Quincy Adams

We will not agree on every issue. But let us respect those differences and respect one another. Let us recognize that we do not serve an ideology or a political party; we serve the people. – John Lynch

The Ugly Church

The Ugly Church

 Today I saw and heard the church reaching out for God in a way that has been missing in our congregation for a while, and the sermon inspired this little train of thought that is now heading your way.

We recently had new landscaping done around the church, and, I have to say, it looks dang good. A comment was made about what an impression it made, and while it was genuine, it made me think.

Lately, I have been preaching from my worship pulpit that an attitude of humility and brokenness spurs a lifestyle of action through the power of the Holy Spirit. Tonight, we were reminded that the automatic product of our faith and hope in Christ is the undeniable action of God in our lives. It seems there is a theme going.

What I’ve been praying over the church is this: May we as a church be laying ourselves down so much, giving so much, pouring out all that we have, that we will NEED the pure work of God in our community. May we be so empty that all we can do is depend on Him to fill us.

And so, the more I thought about the comment, the more it made me think. Sure, it looks great, but shouldn’t I, the one who has been preaching all of this, be wanting an Ugly Church? 

The Ugly Church, in fact, is exactly what I want.

I told my church family that, more than anything, when I returned home from school on break, I would be hoping for an Ugly Church.

Not hoping in the way most people do today, as if it were a wish, but putting my faith in the words of Christ and His promises: that He works through the empty handed and in power through the faithful.

I hope to come home to a church with well-worn carpet, stained with the hesitant steps of burdened people. I hope for grass that is a little less green and a little more played-in. I hope for dirty little fingerprints on our glass, and crumbs all over the kitchen. I hope for altars with knee marks permanently pressed into them. 

Because The Ugly Church is a church that’s being used, a church that is living and breathing, a church that is pushing on to the finish line, a church that embraces the hard questions, and shares both in triumphs and hardships. I hope for a church that’s not getting dressed for it’s own funeral.

I’m sure when we decided to spend money on a tiny bit of landscaping, it wasn’t for selfish reasons: in fact, it was probably with the thought that it would draw others in. But, I guess it needs to be said, and I’m the one to say it: let’s invest in our future! It’s time to start reaching out in faith, laying out all of our resources, whether or not we think it’s worth it.

After all, it’s not ours, is it?

What use is money being hoarded in an account to God?

What use is that money to the hungry, single-parent families in our community?

Knowing the importance of being good stewards of our money is one thing, not using it out of fear or lack of faith is another.

Why are we afraid of giving to families who need it because we aren’t sure of what we’ll get in return? Since when is that the goal?

If our church isn’t being used, what’s the point?

I stand in hope that the faith I see in my church family will grow stronger everyday, until there is no other result but action.

James 2:14-17
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to him, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  (ESV)

On Behalf of Graduates

On Behalf of Graduates

For some, adulthood includes a rite-of-passage that involves providing food for  the community. For others, it comes at a certain age, and from then on one enjoys the privileges and bears the responsibilities that come with the territory. For the United States, and many other nations, it means wearing a strange hat and robe, walking across a stage, and racking your brain for the most clever year-book quote you can manage.

High school graduation is the end of “standard education,” or the finish line of society’s minimum expectations. Whether your future includes higher education or a specific career path, from graduation on you are expected to know enough to float on your own… Or so one would think.

I’m sure everyone has seen the memes. They’re usually along these lines: “Well, I may not have any idea how to pay taxes or balance my checkbook, but I know the Pythagorean Theorem!” Relatable? Yes. But is that all there is to it? Why do so many high school grads, including myself, have such a hard time “adulting”?

I think it’s important to realize that nothing truly prepares you for
becoming an adult…It’s a process, and the majority of “adult” lessons can’t be taught in a school setting. Learning how to live independently and communally should start early on, and continue throughout your life. Not only does adulthood come with age, and with a certain amount of knowledge/wisdom, adulthood comes with a conscious, daily choice to become more adult-like.

In today’s society, it has become a common idea that the point of adulthood has been continually pushed to an older age, and while I don’t disagree, I think that this might have more to do with what modern culture says adulthood is than how “ill-prepared” teens are when being thrust into, as one of my favorite authors once wrote, “a world with strange rules that no one will explain.”

Day after day, year after year, our minds are being bombarded with the idea that adulthood is a dull, repetitive cycle, and if we allow ourselves to get sucked into this cycle, or “machine,” we are giving up part of our identity. In most cartoons (notice I said most for a reason), parents/adult figures are either portrayed as annoying and ignorant, or nauseatingly immature and childlike. The most popular reality shows glorify “adults” who maintain their success while stagnating in an adolescent state. Adulthood is no longer moving from one stage of life from the next, it’s finding a way to continue living a responsibility-free lifestyle while making money at the same time. Is it because this generation has become lazy? Maybe to an extent, but more-so I think it’s because we’re BORED, and not only that, we’re afraid of being bored.

Let’s face it, society today has rather low expectations of young adults, and guess what? We’ve caught on. Sure, every once and a while we’ll find a teacher or a certain class that we can’t get enough of, but for the most part school involves meeting set goals every year in order to move on to the next. It has become less about how it all relates and why it matters and instead more about meeting standards that have been written by politicians who are only concerned with cosmetics. Once teens find the “bar”, they make sure to do the bare minimum in order to have more time for what they want to do, and who can blame them?

With this in mind, remember that most teens have been given a tool. Technology today has placed an endless supply of entertainment at our fingertips. Whether you’re in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, sitting in a boring class, or at a family dinner, the second you lose interest in your environment you can open up your favorite app and avoid the horrors of boredom once more. Now, there are moments (like waiting in line for the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves ride) when having a game on your phone is really really convenient, and can save you an hour or more of mind-numbing nothingness. But, I suppose what I’m saying is, because of this ingrained idea that TRUE adulthood– the steady job, the saving of money, long-term relationships, etc– is boring, life-sucking, and avoidable, the young adults’ natural reaction is to run. Why settle down when there’s so much hard work involved, and so little benefit? Why sacrifice their lifestyle for something that they’ve been told isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

My first year of college was quite an experience. You don’t realize how quickly money leaves unless it’s money you’ve worked hard to earn, and trust me, phone calls with financial aid can often leave you more confused and angry than before. It’s safe to say that I missed not having to think ahead for every meal, and plan and budget, so the idea of coming back home was beautiful. However, one of the first lessons college students learn, a lesson I learned my senior year in high school, is that moving back in is much more difficult than moving out. For me it wasn’t because my parents tried to restrict me, or because I fought with my siblings, it was because… I felt too big. All of the growth, learning how to do things on my own, being completely independent and making my own schedule suddenly couldn’t fit in the house I left last summer.

There is a satisfaction unlike any other that comes with being an adult– not necessarily because of all the freedom, but because you learn discipline, and self-control. Even if things aren’t as great as they could be, you now have the opportunity, the full creative license, to make it better. Working and studying hard makes play-time even more sweet, because you’re not meeting a standard that means nothing to you, you’re making and meeting your own. True adulthood is learning to balance not only your work and social life, but yourself. Refusing to slip back into an adolescent mindset of “just getting through” and instead embracing every moment. Every moment in life should be lived, not completed.

Being an adult means learning how to make the most of life where you are. 

It’s not as if a magic button is pressed and suddenly you are able to do and be all the things you couldn’t before, it’s learning the art of adapting gracefully.This is a lesson I learned partially through The Office– yes, Michael Scott drove me absolutely crazy, but he desired more than anything to make the workplace more than just a workplace. He was making it a community.

So, Graduates, stop living for the weekend, and start living in every day. High school did it’s best to teach you, so take what you can and then move on. Don’t be afraid of making community where you are. Don’t be afraid of adulting, there is a reward, and it’s more fulfilling than you’ve been told.

(I hit several of my soap boxes, and because of that my blog took an interesting turn. I’m tempted to apologize but I won’t, and instead I’ll just say I hope this all makes sense in someone’s head other than my own.)

Thanks for reading!

Julia

“Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults, in a child’s eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below.”

George Orwell