I know, I know. I’ve been staring at a list of blogging topics since before I got back. Feria, Paris, Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona, Basque Country, Florence, not to mention the not so pretty trip home and all the struggles that come with being plopped back into your little town.
Right now I’m about half way through my Summer Honors Research at my university, Sweet Briar College. I’m doing a project on how the sexual abuse and violence that women fleeing from gang violence, government corruption, and domestic abuse, among other things in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras face impedes their ability to successfully gain refugee status in the United States. It’s a very relevant topic, though it’s hard to get up to the minute information and it’s proving to be difficult to get firsthand accounts online, as the information is mostly confidential. If anything, I just want to be able to educate people about this humanitarian crisis in our backyard.
Speaking of humanitarian crises: I was horrified by the massacre in Orlando this past weekend, but then again I wasn’t. I was SO confused when they said it was the deadliest mass shooting in US history. It was “only” 50 people, right? There has to have been bigger ones? Oh, that was Paris. It reinforced the idea that these arbitrary borders we have in our minds or on paper are hurting us. How horrifying is it that I thought, oh only 50 people that’s not that bad. THAT’S HORRIBLE, though I get that it’s just one of my coping mechanisms. We say that we stand in solidarity against whatever type of violence (unless it’s in a non-western country, but that’s a rant for another day) but until we actually do something about the violence, it’s all just for show. It’s not just their problem or the government’s problem it’s OUR problem. We all breed hate on a daily basis, though it’s often in small ways rather than big ways. Any issue in which it becomes “us against them” there is hate and hate breeds violence. It’s simple really: you make a gay joke, a racist joke- us vs them, you make a snide remark about someone on welfare- us vs them, you catcall a woman- us vs them, you laugh at someone at the grocery store for not speaking English- us vs. them. Maybe you don’t mean to, or maybe you do, but when you marginalize people you are destroying lives.
Look at the gangs in El Salvador. They do terrible, really horrific things and have taken control of large parts of the country. The government calls them terrorists. Maybe if the government wasn’t so corrupt and actually funded social programs instead of labeling gang members and their families, funding indoctrinating Nazi-style military schools killing “the problem”, the violence could be lessened. Build the economy, fund schools, provide opportunities. Love not hate. Hate breeds hate.
Maybe it’s idealistic of me to think that a solution is this simple. Actually I know it’s idealistic of me but I’m honestly so exhausted. The fact that the most deadly shooting in my country happened and the first two thoughts in my mind were, oh it was only 50 people and oh at least I didn’t know anyone this time, is sick. I promise you that if you go look back far enough in any situation, the perpetrator was marginalized by society’s idea of something. Am I saying they aren’t responsible? HELL NO. People are 100% responsible for whatever it is they do. Everyone is responsible for what they do, including us. This is not about us vs them. This is everybody’s issue.
Why do we do it? Why do we separate people into categories? Discrimination is real. I’m guilty of it, I could talk for days about how people (who I don’t think deserve it) get welfare while I have a disgustingly high interest rate on my (government) student loans. Maybe I don’t think that’s fair. Explain to me Holly, what exactly is complaining about it going to do? What is saying bad things and making grossly inaccurate blanket statements going to do? Nothing, it’s going to do nothing except create hostility between you and this population. Couldn’t your time be better spent doing something about it? Looking at people like humans and asking, what can I do to help? Love not hate. Hate breeds hate.
Again maybe it’s too simple. But honestly, with the direction this beautiful country and out amazing world are going in, what other choice do we have? Please, let me know if you come up with a better option. I love reading the news, but I shouldn’t feel sick every time I open my app