Movin on Up

Hello Readers 🙂

So, clearly it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here, and honestly I don’t see that changing anytime soon. In my limited spare time, I’ve been focusing more on my novel writing (currently working on a sequel to my first novel, Keep No Record). Blog-style writing has never been my favorite thing, and to be perfectly frank, written blogging is kind of a dying medium.

So! In light of that, I have decided to make the switch to YouTube. Currently, I only have two videos up, and as has been my pattern with blogging, I don’t have a set-schedule I plan on sticking to. I will just be posting new stuff whenever I feel like it, really, because it’s not my biggest priority. However, if you’re interested in following me there simply click here, or you can search for my username, which is CassTeaElle.

I haven’t made many videos yet, but I do plan on doing some lifestyle type videos, possibly movie/television/book reviews, and definitely some political/social commentary regarding anti-feminist/SJW issues. If any of that sounds interesting to you, feel free to check out my channel and subscribe!

Anyway, thank you all for your support in reading my blog. I don’t know if I will be posting here again or not, but it’s been a fun journey!

Peace and God bless you,

Cassie ❤

 

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Review: Suicide Squad

suicide squadTo preface my thoughts on Suicide Squad, I will state that I went into this film with very little knowledge of the characters or the story. In other words, I had only seen what the trailers had shown me, with no influence from comics. I hadn’t heard the best things about the film before I saw it, but I was still pretty excited, and I went with a large group of family, which added greatly to the experience as a whole. Despite the fun and the hype, however, I was incredibly disappointed with the film itself. Allow me to explain why.

 

First off, like pretty much every other human on the planet, I can’t help but compare DC films to their Marvel equivalents. I would say that Suicide Squad is probably the DC equivalent of The Avengers. But here’s the thing about The Avengers… there were 5 movies leading up to it (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk [sort of], Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) – building the hype, introducing the characters. We viewers had time to bond with and become invested in the back-stories of these characters. So when we got to see all our favorite pals meet and work together in The Avengers, it was exciting, because we already knew these guys. Marvel did the same thing with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. New characters were introduced with their own back-story films in between the subsequent collaboration films. DC, however, for whatever reason, decided to skip all of those intriguing back-stories and just jump straight into the collaboration. Now, there are some pros to that method.

 

For one, I’ve heard that many people feel overwhelmed with the Marvel universe. If you haven’t already seen all the Marvel movies, it’s tough to know where to start, and the sheer number of films you have to get through in order to enjoy the “bigger” pictures can be overwhelming. Another pro, if you can call it a pro, is that it’s easier (or, in other words, lazier) to make one movie than six. However, I believe the cons far outweigh the pros.

 

The biggest con of skipping all the hard work of creating an intricate universe of stories that intertwine perfectly and lead to an epic collaboration is that you’re left with one semi-stand-alone film (I say “semi” because they did at least attempt to connect this film to the Batman/Superman universe) that has to attempt to encompass a story that should have been, or at the very least could have been told over the span of at least 4 films. A large portion of the film was flashbacks of Harley Quinn, The Joker, Deadshot, and Diablo, all of which could have easily been separate films (and all of which would have been much more interesting than Suicide Squad). While the flashbacks, in my opinion, were the best part of the film (and that says a lot, I think), if there had been previous movies to work off of, they could have cut the flashbacks altogether, or at least left them a fraction of the length. That would leave us with just a quick reminder here and there rather than such long side-plots that rip your attention away from the current storyline. This would have also provided a lot more time to work with, which would have given them the opportunity to focus more on the events of this particular film, which given the lack of time, felt rushed and forced.  I couldn’t have said it better than my husband, so I won’t try to:

 

“It felt like the only reason the bad thing was happening was so the good guys could come fix it. Which I guess is always the case in movies like this, but as a viewer, you shouldn’t be able to see that so clearly.”

 

I agree completely. The entire purpose of conflict in a story is to provide the opportunity for resolution. But the job of a good writer is to create such a well-organized and believable story that the viewer doesn’t feel that sense of purpose. The events should feel natural, like they would have happened without any outside help, like the conflict arose out of itself and our writers simply created a solution to the problem that already existed. It should not feel like the conversation between writers went like this:

 

“Oh shoot… we’ve got all this awesome background and cool shots of Harley Quinn being sexy and badass and stuff, but we don’t have any villain for these guys to fight. Thoughts?”

“Hm… I guess we could have that one chick be evil.”

“Well, she’s just one person. That’s not really big enough.”

“Fine, maybe she has a brother.”

“Uh… okay, but how is the brother going to get there?”

“Idk. He’ll just be there. Don’t worry about it.”

“Should we put in any more background on her and the brother, or nah?”

“Nah, let’s focus on Harley and Joker’s backstory. That’s what the people really want to see anyway.”

 

True. We do want to see that. Which is why it probably would have made more sense (and more money for you) to give us a full film about it before this one. Also, to be fair, the above mock-conversation is obviously hyperbole and probably ignorant of me, given that I know nothing about the comic book stories. I’m aware that the Enchantress plot probably was planned from the beginning of production, but my point is that this is how it felt as a viewer. And isn’t that really what counts in the end? Intent doesn’t matter much if your execution is sloppy.

 

Long story short, I was very disappointed with the quality of the story of Suicide Squad. They tried to do way too much in one film, and it left them with no time to create a believable and well-thought-out battle sequence (or story leading up to the battle sequence, really). Honestly, the only thing this movie did well was creating awesome, interesting back-stories for the characters and choosing amazing actors to play said characters. The issue is, that just further proves my point that they should have spent even more time on background, thus making 2/3 of the scenes in Suicide Squad moot, and maybe they would do a better job of making a good Avengers-like collaboration film for the squad of villain-heroes we would all know and love. I’d still love to see a good background film for Harley and The Joker, Deadshot, Diablo, and even the Asian chick with the katana whose name I can’t remember. And heck, even Enchantress! Maybe I would be more interested in her and her brother if I understood anything about where they came from and why they’re here and why I’m supposed to care. Unfortunately, DC kind of missed its opportunity to do this well, as making these background films pre-Suicide Squad would have been the way to go. But I’m still hoping they’ll toss us one or two after the fact, anyway, and perhaps they can redeem themselves a bit. Time will tell.

 

Addition: Couldn’t really find a great place to slip this in, but I have to say, I actually really enjoyed the whole new take on the Joker persona. A lot of people didn’t like the way his character was written, but I personally didn’t have a problem with it. I like when writers have the balls to do a totally new take on a character we already know and love. And let’s face it, nobody is going to do a Heath-Ledger-like-Joker better than Heath Ledger. So if it’s not going to match up, might as well just go a whole new direction. And I thought Jared Leto killed it.

5 Reasons Why I Love “Stranger Things”

stranger-things-poster-netflix1After all of the hype on Twitter, my social media platform of choice, I couldn’t help my curiosity. I started watching Stranger Things, and after completing the 8-episode first season about half a week later, these are my thoughts.

 

If you haven’t seen the show, I won’t tell you anything about it, because I feel it’s the best way to enter into the viewing experience. I try to keep things relatively general and spoiler-free with my reviews, so hopefully, by the end of this review, you will be thoroughly convinced that Stranger Things should be the next show on your (if you’re like me) seemingly endless Netflix queue.

 

Without further ado, I give you 5 reasons why I love the show Stranger Things, and why you, hopefully, will as well.

 

#5: Intrigue and timing

 

Stranger Things has a way of revealing just enough to keep you interested, but not enough to make you feel like you have any clue what the heck is going on (until you’re supposed to). It’s reminiscent of Wayward Pines or Persons Unknown for me, in that sense, which I love.

I do have to admit, however, that it took two episodes for me to agree with this assessment. Unfortunately, after episode one, I wasn’t entirely “on board.” Due to all of the great reviews I’ve seen from credible sources, I was willing to give the show more of a chance than one episode, but had I stumbled upon the show myself, with no outside encouragement, I’m not sure if episode one would have been enough to spark my interest. I didn’t come away from the first episode with that “omg I have to know what’s going to happen next!” feeling. Episode two, however, won me over completely in that department.

So, long story short, I do think the show has accomplished this great balance of intrigue and timing, but I wish it would have met that standard for me a tad bit sooner. But of course that’s being a bit nitpicky.

 

#4: Connected character arcs that don’t feel forced

 

The convenient thing about this show is its small setting. Being set in a small town in the ‘80s, nobody bats an eye at the “everyone knows everyone” atmosphere. This allows character arcs to intertwine and connect seamlessly, without feeling forced (such as films like He’s Just Not That Into You or Valentines Day), which is something I appreciate. I feel I have a pretty good handle on, and feel invested in, all of the characters that have been introduced. Their stories all matter and I’m interested in every one of the side plots of the show. There hasn’t been any moment, so far, in which I have felt like “okay, this is fine, but can we get back to ______ now?”

 

#3: Winona Ryder

 

It might just go without saying that Winona Ryder is amazing, but in case it needs to be stated, I’ll go ahead and state it. Winona Ryder is amazing.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the whole “mother grieving over a lost child” shtick a billion and a half times, so it’s hard to really work any kind of new angle to that storyline, but somehow she does. I’ve seen this story a million times, but I’ve never seen this mother before. The way Ryder plays this role – the antics and stress and reactions and flashes of emotion across her face – is something entirely fresh, real, raw, and powerfully relatable. There’s a lot of credit to be given to the incredible writers of the show here as well, but good casting and acting can make all the difference. Winona Ryder plays this role incredibly well.

 

#2: Nostalgia

 

There’s something really interesting and lovely about the nostalgic feel Stranger Things elicits. It’s something new and something old at the same time, though it’s really not old at all. Cuddling up to watch Stranger Things with my husband reminds me of being a kid, sitting around the T.V. with my parents and sister to watch old episodes of “Nancy Drew.” Some might argue that this feeling simply comes from the timeline in which the story is set, but there has to be something more than that. I’ve seen plenty of shows and movies set in older times that don’t evoke the same sense of nostalgia. There’s something different here; something comfortable and familiar.

Perhaps the difference lies in the age range of the main characters. Perhaps because the story primarily follows children, it touches more closely on the emotions and experiences this generation would have felt back in 1983. Just a theory.

And this leads me to my final point, my favorite thing about Stranger Things:

 

#1: Outstanding child actors

 

The acting in this show is incredible. I’ve already touched on one of my favorite leading ladies, but the kids in this show deserve special honors. These kids make this show, and they’re incredibly talented.

I was telling my husband that the interesting thing about this story is that someone could write the exact same storyline, following adults instead of children, and it would be entirely believable… and entirely bland. But a cast of talented young actors makes all the difference. It’s incredible, to me, that these kids can so believably pull off the maturity needed to carry this storyline so strongly. The things these characters are experiencing are, clearly, far outside of what they’re expected to be able to handle, but they carry themselves with so much dignity. I love seeing kids handle themselves better than your average adult. It’s a good reminder to all of us of what kids are capable of and what kinds of standards and expectations we should have of them. No more “boys will be boys” or “oh, whatever, she’s just a kid.” Kids are capable of so much more, and we need to stop making excuses for them.

The friendship between this group of misfit boys (+ El) is so reminiscent of The Goonies (which I hated) or The Sandlot (which I loved). Within the first episode, you already know and feel and believe their chemistry and their history as friends. You’re already rooting for them, within the first Dungeons and Dragons scene. You just know these friendships can endure anything, and you know you’ll get to see that unfold, get to see the forces that try, and inevitably fail, to tear them apart. That’s exciting!

It’ll be interesting, however, to see how the age range of the actors will effect the future progression of the show. The problem with using young actors as leads on a television show is that young actors grow up, and they grow up quickly. Obviously these actors can’t simply be replaced with little or no notice from the audience, as is sometimes the custom with less prominent characters, so if this story has a future, the timeline will have to grow and evolve with the children. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle that.

 

 

So, there you have it. I have high hopes for the future of Stranger Things, and I think everyone should give it a shot. The first season is available on Netflix, and it’s only 8 episodes long, so what do you really have to lose? Less than 8 hours of your life. And I can pretty much guarantee you they won’t be lost hours, and you’ll find something new to look forward to and enjoy with your family.

Check out the show, and if you do, let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter! I have a feeling this is one of those shows that will continue to prompt captivating commentary, discussion, and theories from viewers now and in the future. I’m excited to see what comes next, and I hope you will all be there to join the party.

 

Am I an Author or a Networker?

So, here’s the thing. The writing world makes me incredibly peeved, incredibly often, and I kind of feel like venting about it at the moment, so here you go.

 

As an indie author, I was intrigued by a recent article on “How to Query Agents for a Self-Published Book.” After reading, however, I just feel discouraged and irritated about how authorship has evolved. It is advised in the article that you shouldn’t query an agent until you’ve sold 2,000 – 3,000 paperbacks, or 10,000 – 20,000 ebooks. Agents also want you to have a heavy social media presence, thousands of avid followers, and connections galore. I might sound like a total whiner-baby when I say this, but that leads me to ask, how is it possible to get an agent with these standards and expectations? It’s the impossible balance: either you have little success and therefore need an agent and publisher to aide you in connections, or you already have connections and therefore don’t really need an agent at all. It’s like when employers aren’t willing to hire employees who have no experience. How the hell am I supposed to get experience, then??

 

The thing is, I’m a writer. I love writing. I wish everyone in the world knew about my writing and enjoyed it as much as I do, but I’ll be the first to say that I’m terrible at networking. Why? Because, quite frankly, I hate networking. I hate being pushy, I hate “using” people for their connections as a means to an end, and I hate talking to people with the “how can I tell them about my book” agenda in the back of my mind. I could be more present on social media, but I don’t want to be. Because I’m not a teenager, sitting on my couch on Facebook for hours a day. I’m an adult who has a job, bills to pay, and loves to write. When I have free time, I want to write in that free time. And it completely baffles me that publishers and agents don’t appreciate and value that.

 

Seriously, how does that make sense? You want to represent an author, but you expect them to spend more time on Twitter than they do on their work. It might be completely disrespectful to say this, but I’m willing to bet every struggling author out there is already thinking it, so it might as well be said. If I have to work so hard to gain a following, make sales, make professional connections, get my foot in the door all over the country… then what am I paying you for? What’s the point in having an agent if all of this is still up to you, the author, to accomplish?

 

To be clear, I don’t have an agent. I’m not directing my comments at anyone in particular (obviously… that would be horrendously rude). I’m just expressing my frustration with the way the writing world has evolved. It makes me sad that in order to be a successful author, you have to be an even more successful networker. You have to make networking your top priority, your first love, and writing just kind of takes a back seat. That’s not what I want. So as much as I wish I could be successful in this field, and as much as I still hope to accomplish that someday, I’m never going to sell my soul to the cold, harsh networking world. It makes me sad to realize my dreams may never come to fruition because I’m not aggressive enough to get the “numbers” I need to be worth anything to agents and publishers.

 

I’m mostly writing all of this to vent my frustration, but I’m also documenting these feelings as a reminder to myself. I love to write, and I would love to be able to make enough money on my writing that it could be my fulltime career. But I also want to enjoy my life. I want to spend time with my family and the friends who care about me, not waste all of my time trying to be noticed by people who will forget me the minute I become “old news.” I would love to be published because I would love for my story to be heard by a larger audience, but more importantly, I want to have a happy life and enjoy my time on this earth doing the things I love. This is a truth I need to remember, moving forward as an author.

Why I Wrote “Keep No Record”

 

Kindle CompletedThere’s a question I get every time I tell someone that I wrote a book. It’s the most common question I’m asked, yet it’s still the most difficult to answer: What is your book about?

 

I’ve never been the best at the whole “blurb” or “elevator pitch” concept. My stories are so deeply connected to my heart that I can’t possibly sum up their purpose in a few short sentences. I do my best, and I think I’ve learned how to give enough information to be intriguing without spoiling any major plot points, leaving the reader knowing enough but wanting more. But it still pains me every time I have to answer that question with anything shorter than a 20-minute conversation about my hopes and dreams and passions. So, for anyone who wants to bear with me through that 20-minute conversation, this blog post is for you. I want to share more about my heart behind this story and my reason for wanting it to reach as many people as possible.

 

Before I get into the “why,” I should probably explain the “what” and tell you a bit about the book, in case you haven’t read it. The basic one-liner I hand out to most passersby who inquire about the subject of my book is this: “It’s a suspenseful romance about a criminal psychologist who falls in love with a murderer.” A bit of intrigue, hopefully enough to capture some interest, but no real depth. “Keep No Record” is a story about Jacob Perry, a young man with a grim past who, due to poor upbringing, some mental health issues, a history of abuse and conditioned survival instincts, makes some serious mistakes in his life. Then comes Sarah Parker, a kind, compassionate, perhaps slightly naïve psychologist who lives her life by one major motto: everyone deserves a second chance. She gives Jacob the benefit of the doubt and explores his past, his life, and his heart in more depth that anyone ever has, and what does she find? Well, you’ll have to read the book for that, but this gives you a brief glimpse into the basic outline of the story.

 

While I love to entertain and I enjoy a great romance, this story (as a whole, including the sequel that I’m currently working on), to me, is all about redemption. I started writing this book because I was intrigued by the idea of creating a protagonist who, by most peoples’ standards, would normally be viewed as “the bad guy.” But over time, it’s grown into something that blends so many social issues that have weighed on my heart for years. The first of which is prison ministry.

 

I’ve always believed that our prison system is highly skewed. The statistics of how many people return to prison many times throughout their life is proof of our failure. The number of people returning to prison for a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) time, ideally, should be zero, right? If that’s not the ideal, then what’s the point? But if that is the ideal, then why are prisons essentially adult day-cares, in which the babysitters’ only job is to make sure nobody kills each other while they’re in charge? Whatever happens after the kids are passed off to the parents, or after the prisoners have served their time, isn’t their concern. I believe prisons should be less like daycare and more like school (or at least what school is supposed to look like… don’t get me started on the public school system and its many flaws). Our goal shouldn’t be simply to ensure no crimes are committed, but to help the people under our care grow and evolve as humans, ensuring that when they re-enter society, they have the tools and support necessary to do better the second time around. I like to think of prisons as equivalent to hospitals: a building full of hurt people who need healing. A hospital without doctors and nurses and caring hearts will never be successful, and neither will a prison.

 

I don’t have all the stats, just a lot of opinions. But John Oliver sums it up brilliantly in this series of videos (six videos) about the American justice system. Please check them out when you have the time.

 

 

There’s another great video that illustrates the damage that can be caused by alienating struggling people. This video is primarily about addiction, but I feel it applies to convicts as well. If you continue to push someone away because of their past, what motivation do they have to make a better future? Why would you expect them to do the hard work of changing when they know that, regardless of who they are now or who they may become, you’ll never see them as anything more than the sum of their past mistakes? More connection is the key.

 

 

But the most important thing I want my readers to take away from this story, if nothing else, is the importance of freely offering second chances to all people. My hope is that the character of Jacob makes you think, that his story and his past tugs at your heart enough to say, “I know this guy has done some terrible things, but… I kind of understand how he got here.” You might even go so far as to say, “I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same things if I was in his position.” And that, right there, is the one thing I always try to remind myself when I start to judge someone for their negative actions. Because I don’t know their life, their past, their mental and physical health, their upbringing/parents (or lack thereof). There’s a myriad of factors that I know nothing about, and even if I’ve heard about them or saw them with my own eyes, I will never know what it’s like to experience them – all of them, at the same time, with overwhelming feeling and emotion. I can never accurately predict how I would act if I were in someone else’s shoes.

 

My hope for this story is that it makes people think twice about judging people, even murderers and the like, or writing them off as a lost cause. Nobody is ever a lost cause. Every single person in this world, regardless of what they did eight years ago or eight hours ago, is capable of changing, for the worse or for the better. And if someone wants that opportunity to change for the better, shouldn’t we who are strong be willing… no, not willing, excited to come alongside them and help them in their journey?

 

I want to live in a world in which people are viewed with a filter of hope. A world in which everyone sees their fellow humans, regardless of their current or past states of destruction, as bundles of positive potential just waiting to be set free. A world in which people like Sarah Parker will not look down on people like Jacob Perry for their mistakes, but instead will seek to dig past the anger and hurt to see the good within, and – rather than stopping there – will take them under their wing, in loving support, to bring them out of the darkness and into the light. What a better world that would be.

 

Of course that world won’t be achieved overnight, and it certainly won’t come without a lot of hard work, but I hope that my book will, at the very least, bring some of these issues to light and spark some change in thought. It may seem small, but every great change in world action started with a single thought.

Blissful Desperation

Just a little something from my journal this week….

 

I don’t know how to describe my heart this morning. Words like desperate, dry, empty, aching seem close to sufficient. I have felt so prone to depression lately, so easily sent into a spiral of despair and hopelessness. And that’s probably because the happiness I had was so temporary, fleeting, and dependent on circumstances. I wasn’t living in the joy of my salvation — the lasting joy. The kind that surpasses circumstance and understanding. The kind that, for whatever reason, God wants me to have, daily.

I took the day off of work and went for a drive toward the lake. Some Casting Crowns songs that hit me hard on my journey: “Just Be Held,” “Follow Me,” and most of all, “This is Now.” God spoke to me in these songs, and then He spoke to me again in my journal reading.

At first I felt bad for reading my old journal rather than His word, choosing yet another excuse to postpone opening that Book, but my journal is full of words from God, and He wanted to show me a few things. Number one, how far I’ve come. That I feel closer to Him and more developed in my spiritual walk, that I have grown in so many areas in which I used to desperately pray for growth, and that many of my heartfelt, passionate, in-the-moment promises I’ve made to Him about changing my life, I’ve actually kept. Or at least tried to keep.

Secondly, He reminded me of times in the past in which I’ve been in the exact same situation as I was in today. Times of desperation and spiritual desolation. And more importantly, how I got through those times. The answer, as has been proven time and time again in my past, is more time with God. That solves everything. And now I’m not just saying that because some voice in my head is repeating the words like a repetitive expression or an old wives’ tale. I know it’s true because I have written documentation that it’s worked in my past.

See, this is why history is so important: we’re too forgetful. We fall into the same traps over and over, and we forget how we got out of them the first, second, and fifth times. Which is a revelation that led to another important lesson: the value of journaling. It’s good to read the Word of God, but it’s also good to remember what’s He’s done in your life and what lessons He’s taught you. Because our God is a personal God, not just some far-off “being” depicted in an ancient book. That Book is alive, and my God is alive. And I know He was with me, today.

So that feeling of desperation takes on a new light now. It’s funny how time and experience can change the filter of a memory. Desperation is a blessing, not a curse. It’s a gift that reveals our missing pieces. The puzzle was already incomplete; desperation was just the pair of glasses that allowed me to see why my picture felt so empty. It gave me the fuel and motivation to seek a solution, to chase after the missing pieces. To “turn to what is good” and to “pursue peace.”

Ignorance is not bliss — desperation is.

follow me

 

Here It Is, Folks

Kindle Completed

Well, the day is finally upon us. I’ve always felt there is a fine line between “writer” and “author,” and I think I just crossed it.

 

If you enjoy romance, suspense, psychology, love, redemption, and entertainment, check out my new novel here: http://www.amazon.com/Keep-No-Record-Cassie-Beebe-ebook/dp/B01CWGKKGI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458088888&sr=8-1&keywords=keep+no+record. The ebook is available now, and paperback will be coming soon! If you enjoy it, a nice Amazon review would be super helpful. 🙂

 

Thank you all for your support and encouragement throughout this crazy process. It’s been quite the journey!

Priorities: Citizenship > Family

Yesterday, my pastor shared with the congregation some rather disconcerting statistics in response to the following question: What would the average American do for two million dollars? As you can imagine, people will do some crazy things for money, but one particular comparison made me shake my head in befuddlement at the state of our society.

According to the survey, 25% of Americans would abandon their entire family for two million dollars. Shocking, right? Hm, perhaps. Sadly, perhaps not. But here’s the kicker: only 16% of Americans would give up their citizenship for two million dollars. That means that for a good portion of participants in the survey, a piece of paper declaring that they belong to the great nation of the United States is more important to them than their families. Their spouses, their parents, their children, mean less to them than their citizenship. Now that, to me, was shocking.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with Patriotism. But isn’t that taking things a bit too far? I’ve always been grateful for my country, my state, my town, and the freedom I have as an American, but all of those things combined could never take the place of my love for my family. Land, government, the Constitution… those things will never mean more important to me than people. The reason those things are important in the first place is because of people. The reason we value our Constitution is because we value people, and we know that they deserve to have freedom, to be treated justly and with equality. Our government is created of the people, by the people, and for the people. Take away the people, and government is meaningless. Citizenship is meaningless.

There are many things I could say about the ignorant arrogance of some hard-core Patriotism, failing to see the faults in our government, placing themselves above others simply because they had the luck to be born in a privileged country, but I’ll leave that conversation for another time. The thing that made my heart cringe after hearing these statistics was the sad truth that our priorities are majorly screwed up. If we care more about our own privilige than the good of others, something is wrong. If we care more about citizenship than the people in our lives whom we love, something is wrong. If we are more easily willing to give up our families than our citizenship, something is surely wrong.

Blind

Everyday they pass by. The innocent, shallow people unaware of the pain and sorrow of this world. Unaware unless it effects their daily routine.
Everyone has a routine. Everyone has a story, a pattern they follow without thinking. They never think unless the pattern is disturbed. The pattern is never disturbed unless someone intercedes.
Everyday they walk. They walk by the hurting, the broken, and never turn back. They’re blind to the bad; their minds repress the evil. Like a racehorse focused with its blinders, they walk straight, fixated on the familiar pattern of their secure path, never letting the world stray them from what feels like home.
They never let living distract them from their lives.

Living in Fantasyland

No, I’m not talking about Disneyland. I think we can all agree that would be freaking amazing and there is no point in discussing the cons on that “pros and cons” list. I’m talking about living in your mind rather than in the world. Is it alright to daydream about a better future? Is there any danger in that? Well, a soft “yes” to both, but let me explain further.

The thing about fantasizing or romanticizing your thoughts is that, even in the most harmless of ways, it only serves to make you discontent with the life you actually have. Even thoughts like “What if I was rich? What if I had a bigger house? What if I had a better job? What if I was married to someone different? What if I was more attractive?” are only going to make you unhappy with what you already have.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s a difference between fantasizing in an unhealthy way, to an unhealthy degree, and thinking/dreaming about the future. The latter will inspire you to get off your butt and make a better life for yourself, but the former will do nothing good for you. I repeat: nothing. At the end of the day, after you’ve wasted so much time thinking about all of the things you “could” have, you will still be at the same place you were when you woke up. You will have the same house, the same job, the same spouse, the same bank account, the same body/face. The only thing that will change is that, little by little, you will be less and less satisfied with those things.

Fantasizing is just as much of a trap as porn. Some would argue (and I may agree) that porn is a more dangerous trap, but fantasizing is right up there on the list of things that can destroy your life. It is addictive. As you become less happy with the things you have and the stage of life you are in, you will become more dependent on fantasizing in order to feel pleasure, not just sexually but pleasure in any form. Real life won’t be as exciting as your dreams, so you’ll continue to live in your mind, and that will continue to propel you further into discontentment.

Want to be happy with the life you have? Choose to be happy with the life you have. Choose to be grateful for your house and your money and your job. Choose to love your spouse. Choose to love yourself. Get your head out of the clouds and focus on reality. Humanize your fantasies — think about how unrealistic they are. Better yet, think about all the ways you would still complain if you had a bigger house, different spouse, better job, etc. “Ugh, now I have this huge yard to take care of everyday.” “I miss having an apartment with a landlord who could take care of plumbing problems.” “Sure I have more money with this better job, but I’m also working twice as hard and have less time with my family.” “Oh hey… apparently this person isn’t actually perfect and has just as many flaws as my last husband/wife. Imagine that.”

Wake up to the danger of these romanticized, unrealistic, destructive thoughts! Live the life you have and choose to be grateful and joyful for the hand you’ve been dealt. And if you want something better, go get something better. Why waste time sitting on your butt thinking about how great it would be? Get up, wake up, open your eyes, and live.