Get it! You Deserve It!

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Today, if you are reading this, there is a good chance that you woke up this morning in your own home, drank at least 2 cups of coffee that you made with delicious and clean water, you then ate something sustainable for your morning before heading off to work, school, errands, etc.

( I am assuming most of you drink coffee before eating….just a guess)

Hopefully this morning, you didn’t get yelled at by a complete stranger or be discriminated against for the color of your skin or your sexual orientation. (however, if you are reading this and that did happen to you today, I am sorry. It should not have happened.)

I think most of us would agree that we deserve to have a home, food, and water. But why? Do we deserve those things because we worked hard for them? Well, I guess that means you didn’t deserve it when you were 6. Definitely weren’t working then. Okay, do you deserve it for doing the right thing and being a moral person? I mean even prisoners get those basic things. Maybe you deserve it because you’re an American and we are the best (cough cough sarcasm cough cough). Well there are many countries who are doing much better than us in terms of housing, food, and having clean water for their whole population, so I don’t think being an American really does it.

So, questions of the day:

  1. Why do we deserve the basics of life?
  2. What are the basics of life?

To answer question one, we deserve the basics because we are human beings. It really is that simple. All human beings have the right and deserve the same basics of life regardless of country, age, gender(s), race(s), beliefs, morals, etc. There is nothing I can do in this world that would make me deserve less than my neighbor. Nothing at all.

I can hear some of you going…what, you think a sexual offender deserves the same things as your kind, elderly neighbor? Yes. Bluntly, yes. As long as we are human beings, yes. There are certain intrinsic rights all humans have and they shouldn’t lose those rights based on someone else’s moral, political, whatever agenda.

 

So what basic rights or basic necessities do all human beings deserve?

  1. The right to dignity and respect. This means the right to live in a world without discrimination, sexual harassment, racism, abuse, exploitation, etc
  2. Clean water– to drink with, bathe with, and to cook with.
  3. Shelter. Housing that a person can rest in safely.
  4. Food that meets nutritional needs.
  5. Access to affordable healthcare that matches the level of care needed. Health care that doesn’t discriminate against the sick, elderly, women, etc A person shouldn’t have to fear getting sick, not getting meds, getting pregnant, long-term debt, or dying simply because they can’t afford GOOD healthcare.
  6. Freedom of Choice. I think a lot of people would disagree with me on this one. I often hear from people that if a person in poverty is on Medicaid or Food Stamps, they should have less options available to them. (they don’t say it that way, but that’s what they really mean) I’ve heard people say welfare recipients shouldn’t be able to buy junk food or pop. Because they need help financially, they should have to take classes on how to eat healthy and on how to properly use the healthcare system. My issue here is it seems being poor gives others a right to take away their choices. If one is successful and wealthy, its okay to eat shitty food leading to a heart attack since tax dollars aren’t paying for it. Instead they get insane tax write-offs for going on a charity booze cruise and getting totally smashed. We live in a world where many of us think that because we give something to someone for free, we then have the right to dictate what they do with it. Which, what does that say about us and what we think people deserve? Freedom of Choice is a basic right. I don’t think systemic poverty changes that. 
  7. Love and Safety. This is harder to gauge, because how do you measure love? But, I believe every child deserves and has the right to be kept safe, be nurtured, and to know they are loved. We know developmentally this is what kiddos needs. That doesn’t change as an adult, it just looks differently. I believe no child should have to wonder their worth or value, because I believe no human should have to. Humans deserve to be looked in the eye and actually seen.

I hope you read this list and thought “I have all of those!” That is awesome. You deserve it! Maybe you read this and could check off some boxes, but not all. I hope you fight for the pieces you are missing, you deserve it! You might have checked all the boxes but know others can’t: advocate! They deserve it. And maybe you read this and disagree, I hope you share your thoughts. I am one voice of many and would love to hear what you have to say.

 

 

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Our Castle

I create for the sake of creating. I create because I need to. I was inspired one day leaving therapy, as I remembered where we all come from. We come from children. Children who deserve to be protected and free. Children who believe in tomorrow. I went home and I wrote this short story…this snap shot. I hope you enjoy!

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Our Castle

It was in that moment, with perfect clarity, that I could see all that we would have been. What we would have conquered had it not all been stolen away. I could see the children we were when our parents protected us and innocence was written on our faces,  before war ravaged our land.

He’s smiling at me like I am the sun after months of rain. I feel a yank on my arm and my hand is spirited away to chase butterflies. So swiftly and lightly we run through the tall grass and I hear music. I hear the music of our little kid laughter. It chimes like bells and squeals with delight.

There’s no purple and blue on those little faces. No scars around their ankles. They are free and untouched. I feel a warmth around my shoulders as his arm settles there. I turn my face towards his and he whispers, his breath tickling my ear, “I’ll race you to the top.” Before he can take a step toward our castle, I stick out my leg and hear a “whoomp” as he topples to the hard, dirt ground. “You’re on” I say and take off for our tree, our mighty castle.

My long golden hair is streaming behind me, my dress a blur of red in the wind, my lungs are full as I breathe in and out. The air is dancing and whirring, and above all that noise, I can hear him gaining. With a thud we reach the tree at the same time, and for the briefest second, our eyes meet: the grey in mine seeing the blue in his, and he winks. His mouth slightly curves up on the right and then I find myself in a heap on the group. He pushed me!

“Ha ha, two can play that game Muir! Catch me if you can!”  He yells as he shimmies up the tree grabbing each branch to pull himself up. Lucky for me I’m faster. I begin to climb. My hands run over the bark, and I notice its smooth from years of climbing. This tree knows my hands and feet better than anyone I think to myself, and I know this tree better than anyone too. Sweat is dripping down my nose, my red dress is turning brown as dirt smears all over it. I’m going to get in trouble when I get home, but I can’t let him win. I stop climbing and instead start swinging. Like a monkey,  I leap from branch to branch using my arms like ropes. As he sees me gaining on him, his belt loop snags. It was the small window I needed and I climb over him using his own shoulder as a step. He grunts with agitation and then joins me in our tower.

Air moves in and out of our lungs as we try to regain a normal breathing rhythm. The moisture on his face grabs his hair and won’t let go. I know I don’t look much better, but up here, no one cares. As we sit down and I watch my legs dangle at the top of the tree, we eat from our secret stash. It once housed toffees, and caramels, but now it only contains nuts and seeds. He pops them in the air and we try catching them with our mouths. I’m feeding the birds with how many I catch. Looking out over our little world he says “I like sitting on top of the world with you.” The smile that splits my face is like gold. In that moment with him, we were kings and queens, and we can do anything.
The vision leaves just as fast as it entered my mind, but I can’t forget. I can’t stop seeing us, and what we could have been, could have felt. Now I remember what I’m fighting for. I remember who I am fighting for and she is worth it. Yes, they are worth it.

Selling Sex…

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Little girl don’t cry. The nights you’ve spent, the hours you will never get back, the bruises you have endured. Little girl don’t scream. Those who stole from you, said you aren’t worth it, those who could have saved you. Little girl don’t cry. 

Part of what I do with my deep breaths, with this short life, with my small days, and my limited time…is work to raise awareness about the issue of slavery..particularly sex slavery. Sex. Slavery. Two words that should never be uttered in the same sentence and yet have found their way into our culture. They are pervasive. Wait…sex slavery is pervasive in our culture?

Hold on…again: Sex slavery is PERVASIVE in our culture. 

What is crazy is how disguised it is: prostitution, survivor sex, a choice, pornography, fluffer, sex worker, noble work, empowerment etc. These are the glorified words and phrases used to describe sex slavery. They mask the underlying horrors and depravity of the trade. They make it acceptable…and some would even push to make it legal.

I understand the logic:

“A woman feels empowered if she can provide for herself by herself.” “Sex work isn’t going anywhere, why fight it.” “If we legalize it, well at least women won’t get arrested for soliciting.” “Porn isn’t real, so it’s not actually hurting anyone.”

Facts:

80% of all persons in prostitution/sex work have a pimp. A pimp is someone who uses force, fear, or coercion in order to get people to perform sexual acts in order to make money from them.

80% also report being beaten, raped, or threatened on a regular basis. Even those who are supposedly there by choice.

The average age into prostitution is 12-14. Minors then are being forced to sell themselves..and who are the buyers one might ask??? Adults. Simply put.

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Many girls lured into the pornography business are actually looking for acting careers and are brought in under false pretenses, some under debt bondage, and others because it is their only escape.

Runaways are very likely to result in “survivor sex” or prostitution. They are running from horrors of home and the foster system and find themselves trapped in a life that is engaged out of desperation.

I have spoken with women who reported being so hungry and lost that they have traded sex for a happy meal. A HAPPY MEAL. In a culture where a person is only worth what we can take from them. Their desperation doesn’t lead to choices or options…it leads to despair and ultimately to survival. Survival. Is survival really a choice? Is having NO CHOICE or ONE OPTION really a choice? Is being told that you are only as good as someone will pay for you…really a choice?

And what we don’t get as a culture…is that by allowing people to sell themselves…we accept them for the objects they believe that they are. We confirm their broken identity. We comply with a world that doesn’t value life and the respect each life deserves. Essentially we devalue life to the point that it is only worth a dollar amount.

I remember leading a group once and the overwhelming story I kept hearing was this:

“When someone paid for a service, they didn’t just believe that they paid for that service… no,for that time they believed that they owned me. And if I was uncomfortable with something they wanted, they would take it from me anyway.”

A choice. Doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me. Doesn’t sound like every little girl’s dream. In fact, it sounds like every little girl’s nightmare. It sounds like hell. 

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