Monday, October 29, 2012

"Stop the madness for constant group work. Just stop it!"

I'm only posting this in my blog because facebook, for whatever reason, will not let me post the video directly.  But darn it, the world needs to see this!

"...because when it comes to creativity and to leadership, we need introverts doing what they do best."
-Susan Cain-

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

HIV and Orphans

Do you know what HIV is?  You've heard of it, of course, but do you really know what it is?  A lot of us don't know the facts about HIV.  I didn't know what the difference was between HIV and AIDS until maybe a year or two ago.  HIV seems really scary to a lot of people.  What about you?  Think about these questions and be very, very honest with yourself about the answers.  What would you do if you found out that a friend of yours had HIV?  Would you want your child to be friends with an HIV positive kid?  How would you feel about sharing your home with an HIV positive person?  What about sharing a pool?  Eating utensils?  Would you want to play on the same sports team?  If you found out that someone you know has HIV, would your opinion of that person change?

Maybe you honestly don't know the answer to any of these questions.  A lot of people don't.  That's why so many orphans with HIV and no other diagnosed special needs get overlooked for adoption over and over again.

So what is HIV?  It stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  It's the virus that eventually causes AIDS.  However, that does NOT mean that every person with HIV has AIDS or will get AIDS.  The HIV virus weakens the immune system.

A person can get the HIV virus through unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles, and through birth or breastfeeding.  That's it.  Now, I do know of parents who don't allow their children to share toothbrushes because of the potential for gums to bleed, but that swimming pool that I mentioned?  Not a risk.  Sharing a home?  Not a risk.  Sports teams?  Not a risk.  Eating utensils?  Not a risk.  Toilets?  Again, not a risk.  See where I'm going with this?  The problem is that so many people worry about non-existent risks that they pass over deserving children.  This is why so many children with a manageable disease still wait for families.

And yes, I did say "manageable."  Believe it or not, people with HIV can live very normal lives.  They can play sports, have jobs, get married, have kids (medication can prevent mother-to-child transmission), and have a normal lifespan.  I'm going to be completely honest right now.  If I didn't know the truth about HIV, I'd be so afraid to adopt an HIV positive child because I wouldn't want any of my babies to die young, but HIV is NOT a death sentence.  Anti-Retroviral Therapy and regular visits to the doctor for check-ups and blood tests help people with the HIV virus to live normal lives.  In fact, children taking Anti-Retroviral pills often end up with a viral load that's so low that it becomes undetectable in their bodies.

The waiting orphans with the HIV virus carry this disease only because their mothers had it before them.  Sadly, the social stigma that surrounds HIV causes many people to only see the disease but not the person.  I encourage you do research further into the subject and consider pursuing the adoption of one of the many orphans who wait simply because of their HIV positive status.  If you want a good place to start and see where I got my sources from, check out the Project Hopeful website.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Torture of Students with Special Needs

Warning: the video below is very difficult to watch.  

The Judge Rotenburg Center in Canton, Massachusetts is a school for children and young adults with developmental disabilities.  The young man in the video above was shocked 31 times.  Why?  Because he refused to take off his coat.  On the JRC website, they defend their use of this electric shock "treatment" on their students.  They claim that they only use this method to curb aggressive behavior that presents a danger to students.  Now, what exactly was dangerous about a student refusing to take his coat off?

This petition asks Massachusetts Representatives to stop the torture of these students.  Will you consider adding your name?  Will you stand up for these students?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Things Your Introverted Friends Wish You Knew

Well, this isn't my usual advocacy post, unless of course you want to count it as advice for adopting introverted children, which you should totally do, by the way.  No, this post is just a result of something I've been thinking about for a long time.  Just before school ended for the semester, I got to hear a young man give a speech about his college experience.  He talked about a time in his life when things weren't going well for him.  At one point he said, "I became really introverted, and that's just not me."

I won't lie.  I was a bit offended.  Now, I did take a minute to look at the statement from his point of view.  I did think, "Oh, he didn't mean it that way.  He's not saying that introversion is a bad thing.  He's just saying that it was weird for him because that's not his personality type."  Even so, the statement rubbed me the wrong way, and after a few minutes of trying to figure out why, the answer hit me.  If I went up on stage and talked about my life's challenges, would you consider it odd if I said that I became really extroverted?  Would you consider my switch to extroversion a bad thing?  The fact is that this culture values extroversion much more than introversion.  Society considers introversion a problem that needs to be fixed, partly because not a lot of introverts want to spend the energy it takes to defend themselves.

To my dear extroverted friends and family members, please don't take this as an attack.  I love you all.  I love your personalities and wouldn't do a thing in the world to change the way that God made you.  I'm writing this because I fully get that introverts are more difficult to understand from the extrovert perspective.  There are fewer of us in existence, after all, and our brains are wired in a completely different way.  That's why I've made this list of things your introvert friends wish you knew.  Why didn't they tell you this themselves?  Because they're introverted.

1) Introversion is not a problem, and it is not your job to "fix" it.  Believe it or not, I actually like my personality, and I am not waiting for a good friend to "rescue" me from my "shell".  I know that your heart is in the right place, and I appreciate that you care about me, but please allow me to be introverted and respect the fact that my personality is a different type than yours.  

2) I get energy from different places than you.  You gain energy from being in large, loud groups of people.  I lose energy from being in large groups of people.  It doesn't mean that I don't love those people or enjoy their company, but if we've been out together all day, I will be much more tired than you.  I "recharge" by being alone or in small groups.  

3) Just because I'm not in the middle of the dance floor doesn't mean that I'm upset or that I'm not having fun.  I'm actually enjoying this one-on-one conversation I'm having.  

4) I am not shy.  I am quiet.  There is a huge difference.  

5) Please don't get offended if I don't join in on spontaneous plans.  I have nothing against you. Sometimes I'm up for the "hey, let's all go get ice cream right now!" plans, but at other times, I've already spent all of my energy, and I'd prefer things that are already planned ahead.  

6) I am just as fun-loving as you, but I might consider different things fun.  

7) If I'm put on the spot, my brain will immediately erase all useful information, which is particularly annoying in language classes.  It might take a minute for me to re-gather my thoughts and answer you.  It's the only part of being introverted that gets on my nerves.  

8) I'm sorry, but you're not helping me if you try to force me into the conversation (see #7).  I need time to observe a situation before I jump in.  

9) I don't like idle conversation.  If I have something important to say, I'll say it.  

10) The fastest way to get me to talk to you is to figure out what I'm passionate about.  One extroverted friend of mine pointed out that I have quite a few subjects that I'll talk about endlessly.  We called these subjects my "soap boxes".  Introverts don't like to speak just for the sake of speaking, but when you get us to talk about something we're passionate about, we will not shut up.  Ask me about Christianity and the arts.  Ask me about the importance of live theatre.  Ask me about Down Syndrome.  Ask me about orphans.  Ask me about introversion.  I promise that I will talk so much that you might wish you hadn't asked.  :)  

11) Please don't say "you're really quiet!" to a person you've just met.  Few things are more annoying, and there really is no way to respond to that.  I don't understand why that phrase is socially acceptable to say to a complete stranger while saying "you're really loud!" is considered rude.  

12) Don't ever, ever, ever tell an introvert to "try being more extroverted" or "try to be more outgoing".  This goes back to #1.  Introversion is a personality type, not an emotion, so it doesn't change.  Think about it.  You are literally asking me to change my personality, something I would never consider asking of you.  Frankly, it's insulting.  Imagine how you would feel if the situation were reversed.  Most introverts will be polite and resist the urge to respond with sarcasm.  Some introverts will not resist that urge.  You have been warned.  

13) Introverts can do and have done a lot of things that you might consider "extroverted".  I, for example, am a theatre major.  I act and sing on a stage in front of people all the time. I love public speaking.  I'd much rather be in front of a crowd than in the middle of one, I guess.  Don't assume things about your introverted friends.  

14)  I love my extroverted friends.  I appreciate your personalities.  All I ask is for the same in return.  

I hope that this list has helped some of you understand where your introverted friends are coming from. :)  Basically, just remember that God created all our different personalities with a purpose.  Ultimately, the introverts and extroverts need each other and should celebrate each other's strengths.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Did Slaves Make Your Clothes?

I never used to put thought into where any of my clothes came from.  After reading this post, though, I started going through some of the labels on my favorite pairs of jeans and tops.  Most of them say "Made in China" or "Made in Cambodia" or "Made in Taiwan".  There were a couple of "Made in the USA" labels, but these labels only made up a small fraction of what is in my closet.  After digging deeper into the subject, I found that several well-known stores use sweatshops, child labor, and slave labor to make their clothing.  It doesn't even take much effort to find a lot of stores and brands that use this kind of labor.  Just do a google search for "(Insert store name) sweatshop" and see what happens.  You'll be surprised to find out just how much of your favorite clothing items come from underpaid and mistreated workers.  Take a look at this video, and then look up the other three parts if you're interested:

True, a lot of us didn't know that many of our favorite places use slave labor.  The very terrible thing, though, is that some of us knew about it and didn't do anything.  Some of us just continued to shop as if nothing was wrong.  I once listened to a friend of mine say, "I love that place!  It's my favorite store," right after I had just finished talking about its use of sweatshops.  Now, how can we possibly support a system that routinely abuses, exploits, dehumanizes, starves, sickens, and kills our fellow human beings? We can't.  The only way that these stores and brands will stop giving us cheap clothes at the result of abuse is if we all simply refuse to buy.  But how?  It seems like every last store uses slave labor of some kind.  How do we find a place that refuses to exploit human beings?  

Well, here are a few alternatives.  I haven't bought anything yet because I don't need any new clothes right now, but the second I do decide to buy things, I will be posting reviews on this blog.  Feeling adventurous?  Need a new skirt?  Want to give the person who made your clothes enough money to take care of his/her family?  Why not try out one of these websites? 

You might just find your new favorite clothing.