Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

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Photo by Graham Ruttan on Unsplash

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Yes, it is possible to be both, unless you are someone that thinks that there are only pure absolutes in this universe. If so, then no need for you to continue reading. Just skip on over to the next post in your feed.

But there are a few things that are absolutes for me:

  • Micheal Vick an evil piece of shit and should be incarcerated forever.
  • Liver is disgusting and equally as evil as Vick.
  • My unconditional love for my family, a few friends, and my pets.
  • I loathe injustice and cruelty.

There may be a few more, but not many. I know life is really thousands and thousands shades of gray. I know just as there is no absolute right, there isn’t an absolute wrong.

I know I tried really hard to wrap my head around the Georgia abortion bill HB 481 and I can’t. I read it and re-read it and studied the various analysis of it and walked away with a feeling of dread and worry. Not for me, but for you. I am too old to get pregnant, so this is not something that will affect me directly, but I’m still a woman who cares about other women.

I can usually understand, to some degree, other points of view. I may not agree, but I can get it. I will not profess to fully understand the entirety of this bill, but I understand enough to see that you cannot legislate anyone’s moral compass, ethics, and integrity.

I can’t think with this bill because it is too extreme to be anything other than a blatant attempt to govern and control women and our reproductive rights. It takes away our Human Right to family and marriage because it criminalizes a woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her family. It takes away our freedom of choice to make the decisions we deem correct. That is a form of slavery or at best, dictatorship.

I don’t think it would bother me quite as much if it also included the other half of the equation. Last time I checked, it still takes sperm to fertilize an egg, so why isn’t this bill also including the penalties for the man? Why isn’t the sperm donor also being interrogated and possibly charged with murder if the woman is also charged?

Why is it only women who are being targeted in this bill? If the people that put this together are so damned concerned about the child, why isn’t the man also being held responsible?

I say I am pro-choice and pro-life (I actually hate those terms, but it’s all we’ve got right now) and what I mean by that is this: I PERSONALLY think abortion is wrong. I BELIEVE life begins at conception. I FEEL there are better alternatives for most abortions.

I also BELIEVE that a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body. I FEEL that it is her choice and if she chooses to have an abortion, as much as it is not right for ME, I want it to be safe and legal. I don’t believe in abortion in general, so that means I should not have one.

I have never been pregnant and therefore never had an abortion. I had a few scares when I was younger and though I say that I don’t think abortion is right, trust me it was something I thought about as a teenager when my period was late. I can’t say what I would have done had I been pregnant and not just late, but the idea that I had a choice was important.

I can’t tell you what you should do, anymore than I’d listen to you tell me what I should do. I would never tell a woman what to do, but I sure as hell would make sure she was safe and hopefully making the best decision possible for HER situation.

I cannot even begin to imagine what a woman goes through after a miscarriage. I have seen friends and family grieve for the lost child, the lost hope and the agony of guilt and shame. I have not walked in those shoes but I have seen them.

The idea that any one of them could possibly then be subjected to an interrogation by a prosecutor and possibly charged with second-degree murder is incomprehensible to me. Only a monster would do that and therein lies the problem.

This bill is not about abortion, per se. This bill is not concerned with the welfare and health of children, but is an attempt to further control women via punishment or the threat of punishment for their choices.

I will be honest with you. I would prefer that no woman ever had an abortion, with very few exceptions.

I wish that every woman never had to be put in the position of having to make that choice.

I wish all children were not only welcomed with open arms and given love, security, and health into a family that will care for them, but they all grow up to be happy, healthy, and wonderful citizens who contribute to society and improve it.

I want that for everyone. I think we all do, but I am not naive. The reality is quite different and it is not my place to tell you what you should do or judge you for your decisions.

You and I each have the right to make decisions about our own bodies. I don’t need the government or court to tell me what I think, what my moral compass is, or how to live or behave.

  • I want you to be safe. I want you to be allowed to make the best possible choices for you, your family, and your loved ones.
  • I don’t want you harmed or feel you can’t get out of a bad situation.
  • I don’t want you judged, punished, and forced to live a life you don’t want.
  • I want more funding and help for adoption options.
  • I want more education on our choices.
  • I want the foster child program to no longer be necessary because all children have loving homes and no one has put them in danger.

I want all life to be respected and protected, including yours.

homelesswoman

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

The first time I saw her, I wanted to call the cops. I didn’t like her sitting on the bottom of the stairs that lead to the front door of my apartment. I was living in a 2 story house that had been converted into 2 or 3 apartments. 2 if you didn’t count the room directly to the left of the front door that the landlord was using for storage. He was always saying he was going to rent it out but never did.

I had come downstairs and was making sure the front door locked behind me when I saw her sitting there. She was stooped over and there were 2 large bags stuffed with God only knows what. She had a filthy hoodie pulled over her head. She had on a long skirt that covered her dirty sneakers.

I stood behind her, uncertain of what to do. Should I ignore her and walk to my car? Should I say something? Should l tell her to leave? She wasn’t hurting anyone but she made me uncomfortable sitting on the step. She was in the front yard on private property and didn’t belong here.

Her posture was atrocious. I could see that she wasn’t just leaning over; her back had a gigantic hump that forced her head down to her chest. It was as if her neck and shoulder were fused into one piece. She was bent from the waist down as if her back was frozen that way. She was deformed and it looked painful.

I stepped to her right and walked past. Halfway to my car, I turned around and looked back at her.

She was staring at the ground and I realized that was probably as far up as she could move her head. Her face was covered with dirt and her hands were black with filth. Her nails were crusted over with dirt.

I walked a few paces towards her.

“Are you OK? Do you need anything?”

Her eyes looked up at me. They were a brilliant blue, clear and sharp. She smiled. Most of her teeth were gone but the few that remained were rotten.

“I’ll get out of your way,” she said and began to gather her bags.

“No! That’s OK. You can sit there,” I said. “I just wanted to make sure you’re OK,” I said. I felt like a shit for wanting to call the cops on her. I also hoped the landlord didn’t show up. He’d berate her, throw her off his property and call the cops, just to be sure.

He really was an asshole.

She smiled slightly, shrugged her shoulders and said “I’m fine.”

I nodded and walked over to my car, started it up and put it in reverse. As I pulled away, I looked back at her. She was sitting quietly, staring at the ground.

As I drove away, I felt as if I had just left a toddler alone in my apartment and telling myself that they would be alright.

I didn’t see her again until 3 weeks later. This time she was sitting on the bench in front of my house at the bus stop. Stooped over with her 2 bags and wearing the same clothes. She still sat at that horrible angle. There was no way she wasn’t in pain, yet she sat, as she had done before on the porch, quietly, patiently, and not moving. Just looking at her feet.

I thought about going over and talking to her after I changed my clothes but when I looked out my window a few minutes later, she was gone. I doubted she had taken the bus and had probably been resting for a few minutes.

I would see her every so often over the next few months, walking down the street with her bags and stooped back. Her head was lower than her shoulders and I wondered if she could even see where she was going. She had to stare at the ground while she walked. She always had on the same clothes and she shuffled. It seemed she couldn’t pick up her feet very far up off the ground. Or maybe she could but since she couldn’t see in front of her, she had to walk slowly and carefully lest she walk into something or someone.

I began to worry about her when the weather turned cold. This wasn’t usually a concern of mine since the weather in Silicon Valley was mild compared to most of the United States, but we had our cold snaps and it wasn’t uncommon for the winter temperature get into the 30’s. The Bay Area, smack in the middle of the most liberal state in the Union, was known to have the largest and least cared for population of homeless people. Silicon Valley was booming with new millionaires almost daily due to the abundance of high tech companies we claimed to love and adore, but you were only as good as your last million, the last app you created or the last program you coded.

Why was I worrying about this woman who seemed to wander the few blocks around my apartment? She wasn’t dangerous by any means, so why should I wonder where she was or more importantly, who she was?

I began to imagine what happened to her. She had to have been someone’s child, but was she also someone’s mother or sister or wife? Where was her family? Had she been born deformed or did something happen to her? Was she hurt at some point and was unable to receive medical care and now was cursed to pull her dirty and hurt body around the streets until she dropped dead?

“Who is she?” was a question I would ask myself on my couch while binge watching Netflix. I’d get up and look outside my second story apartment window to see if she was walking by. I never knew if I was disappointed that I didn’t see her or afraid that I would see her shuffling down the street again.

One day while standing in line at Walgreen’s to buy my weekly supply of nicotine gum, of which I was still using 2 years after quitting smoking, I saw her walk in. She came through the automatic doors, her chin forced down to her chest and walked past me. A few people jumped back as she went by. My eyes followed her as she turned down an aisle and disappeared. I didn’t mean to stare but I couldn’t help it.

She was here. She walked into a store just like a normal person. I wanted to go find her but felt that was getting into the territory of stalking. Plus it would just be creepy to follow this poor woman around the store as if she were a freak or treat her as if I thought she would steal.

I paid for my purchase and walked to my car. I unlocked it and threw my gum onto the passenger seat, got in and closed the door. I didn’t start my car. Instead I sat there and stared at the entrance to the store and waited. I didn’t know exactly what I was waiting for except to watch her as she came out. That’s all I knew. I just wanted to watch her and maybe talk to her.

I was also afraid of her. I wasn’t afraid of her because of how she looked or that I thought she would hurt me or curse at me. I was afraid of her because I didn’t want to end up like her. If I didn’t get my shit together soon, I could be her in a decade or two or even sooner. Seeing homeless people scared me or made me nervous because even though I didn’t know their story, I knew they had one. We all do.

I didn’t know what I was going to say but I knew I had to talk to her. She had me worried during the cold weather. I wondered if she had a place to stay and food to eat.

I wondered if she was someone who was completely alone in the world, someone whom everyone tried not to see, someone who we all wanted to disappear and not ever have to think about, someone that we were all terrified of becoming since so many of us lived from one paycheck to the next.

I saw her come out and turn right. Without thinking, I got out of my car and walked towards her. She stopped by a trash can, rummaged through one of her bags, and threw something away.

I cleared my throat and quietly walked up to her. I didn’t want to scare her.

“Hi,’ I said. That was all I could think of.

She raised her head as best as she could and looked at me.

“Hello,” she said.

I stood there, staring at her and realized I was about to be incredibly rude, but I didn’t know what to say, so I said what had been on my mind for months.

“Are you OK?” I asked. “Do you need help with anything?”

She smiled. Her eyes were still blue and her few remaining teeth were still rotten.

“The porch steps,” she said.

I blinked. I didn’t know what she was talking about for a moment and then I realized she remembered me from months ago.

I chuckled “Yes, the porch steps. That’s me.”

She was lucid and calm. Her smile was genuine. I couldn’t quite tell her age. Her skin was like leather, brown from the sun, and wrinkled. She could have been anywhere from the age of 45 to 85. I didn’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. I thought someone in her condition, who wandered the streets all day, would be crazy and scary.

“No, I’m fine,” she said and stared to walk away.

“Wait!” I said and followed her. “Are you sure you don’t need anything? I’m sorry, but you look like you could use some help.”

She stopped and turned around. I worried that I had insulted or offended her even though that wasn’t my intent. I found myself, for the first time in a very long time, reaching out to someone.

I hadn’t realized it until that moment, and even then I wouldn’t be able to articulate it for some time, but it had been months since I had really talked to someone. I had the usual conversations at work, which were social and necessary, but I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen any of my friends or done anything other than go to work, worry about money, cry myself to sleep from the loneliness and get up the next morning and do it again.

She looked at me for a moment. “I don’t need any help. Do you?”

I didn’t know how to respond to her. I started to stutter because her words penetrated what social veneer I had left. This was not the conversation I had envisioned. I was prepared to give her money or take her across the street to McDonald’s and buy her a meal. I wasn’t prepared for an actual conversation beyond that.

I wasn’t counting on having her be anything other than grateful for my charity and me feeling like I had done some wonderful and selfless and contributed to mankind, something that would get her out of my head when it was cold.

I was talking to her to help MY conscience. That fact struck me in the face and I felt ashamed.

No, a conversation wasn’t what I wanted but I didn’t know what it was that I did want.

“I’m OK. Could be better but can’t complain….” I said and felt my words fall flat.

She snorted and for some reason, that made me chuckle.

“Look, I’m sorry if I’m bothering you and I don’t mean to offend, but honestly, you look like you’re having a rough time and I was worried about you. I know that sounds strange, and it IS strange, but I keep seeing you around the neighborhood and…well…I just wanted to know if you had a place to sleep…and I’m making a fool of myself, aren’t I?”

“Would you like to treat me to a cup of coffee?” she asked and motioned to the coffee shop a few doors down.

So we went and had coffee. She told me her name was Bernie and she lived in the neighborhood. I didn’t ask where. We chatted about the weather and I never once asked her any questions. I figured she would tell me whatever she wanted.

I glared at the people who stared at her and made them turn away out of shame for staring. I had a look that could turn a person to stone if I was pissed off enough.

She told me about the recent book she had read and recommended it to me. Reading was her hobby and passion. The bags she carried had some clothes but mostly she carried books. She would find the little free libraries throughout the neighborhood and take a book and then put it back when she was done and take another one.

When it was time to leave, I stood up and helped her with her chair and bags. I wasn’t sure if I felt better or worse. I had a million questions for her but even with the way she looked, she had a air of dignity about her.

“Well, good-bye Bernie. I’m sure I’ll see you around, yes?”

“Most likely. Thank you for the coffee, Susan. I enjoyed your company,” she said. She reached into one of her bags, rummaged around and pulled out a book. She handed it to me.

“I think you’ll like this one,” she said and walked away.

“Thank you!” I said and looked down at the book. It was used, which is just the way I like them, but it was in excellent condition. It was “The Black Ice” and it made me smile. I had mentioned during our conversation how much I liked the series by Michael Connelly.

I watched her shuffle down the sidewalk until she was out of sight. I got in my car and drove home. I wasn’t sure what I thought or felt, but there was a part of me that changed. I had reached out to a stranger and nothing bad happened. I talked to a person that may or may not have been homeless and realized it wasn’t money or food she wanted; it was the company of another person who sat with them and listened. She wasn’t that different from me. We were both lonely and for a moment, we weren’t.

After that, I’d look for her on my porch every morning when I’d leave for work and I always felt disappointed when she wasn’t there. I still have some used books in my car to give her, if I should ever see her again.

images

I had the pleasure of talking with a young man yesterday. He’s a friend of a friend and came into the office. Let’s call him Gary, OK?

Gary has been in the United States for 9 years. Prior to immigrating here, he was an attorney in his home land. He has no intention of being an attorney here but is still passionate about human rights.

He told me a story of working for someone here in the US. The man underpaid his employees and was a criminal. Gary, very intelligent and fluent in English, caught-on very quickly what illegal things this man was doing and that he was taking advantage of his employees, many of whom didn’t understand English and did not know their rights.

Gary tried, several times, to get the man to change his ways, but he refused. Gary watched as the employees worked hard yet didn’t know they weren’t even being paid minimum wage.

Gary played a little dumb (smart!) and told the man he would sue. The man laughed at him and blew him off.

Gary then started a class action suit against him. He gathered up all the employees, made sure they understood, took care of them and sued.

And they won. $2,000,000.00 of which Gary took very little from.

For you see, like me, he doesn’t give a crap about money. He just wants people to do well.

I asked him “As someone who has come from another country, what do you think about the US?”

With no hesitation, he said “You know why this is the greatest country in the world? Because we can all come here, be protected, and live our lives. You know there are so many people who want to kill all of you? You know that most of us don’t and that we love you, your government and your Constitution and will die to protect it? Each and every one of us are proud to be an American.”

I choked up, got up and hugged him. I thanked him for being here, for caring about people. He hugged me back.

He talked about our history and I was beyond impressed.

“You guys are rebels and you flipped off those that sought to control you, tell you what to think, what to believe, and how to live. You told them to go to hell, broke all the rules and opened your hearts to the foundation and basis of your country – freedom of religion and that’s why we’re here.”

Remember that our system works. It may not be perfect, but it works.

You just need to be more intelligent on how to use it.

When you rant, rave, share degrading meme’s and pictures of the President of the United States, YOU HURT YOUR CAUSE! You are doing so much more damage and personally, I’m sick of your shit.

I don’t give a flying fuck what you think because you are being an out-of-control idiot and will never get your message across. Those of us who you might have had a conversation with and might have gotten some help, you are immediately muted and written off as stupid.

Here’s some advice from someone who has had 40 years of success in getting people to act:

  • Speak intelligently and talk to each person as if they are important, because they are.
  • SIMPLY state ONE objection and be very specific in that ONE objection.
  • Answer people’s questions AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY.
  • Give them ONE THING to do and help them do that.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Carry on and get your emotions under control. You’re hurting your cause when you react.

/done

 

 

rail

There are many angels among us. The underground railroad still exits. It’s primary use is salvaging women from the men who hurt them, beat them, kill them and exploit them. Jane is on the run, scared and only knows to go to her pimp. After all, it’s what she was raised to do.

Only 3 people knew where the shelter was and Robert was not one of them. He would call his mother and set up a time and place for the woman to arrive. She would be whisked away and no one knew where. Getting the woman was only a small part of the process. Once she was put in a car, she would be driven to several points in which, each time, she was moved to another car for a minimum of 5 stops. Not one of the drivers knew anything other than where to pick the woman up and where to drop her off. Disposable cell phones were used and the route changed frequently. Before getting into the first car, the woman handed over her cell phone. The battery was taken out and the phone disposed of. She wasn’t just running from an abusive man; she was running from and leaving behind her life.

Now he had to call her and tell her Jane had run. She would be upset and somewhat angry at him even though it wasn’t his fault.

He sighed and dialed her number.

“Robert, where is she?” she asked. She didn’t even bother with “Hello.”

“Mom, I’m sorry, but she ran,” he said. He was a grown man but now felt like a petulant child that his mom was scolding. “I made sure she had cab fare and the sergeant had the address to give the cab driver, but she wouldn’t listen.”

“What do you mean the sergeant had the address? Why didn’t you make sure she got in the cab? I had someone waiting for her all afternoon. Not until the sun began to set did I have her leave the coffee shop. What was so important that you couldn’t talk to her yourself?”

Robert couldn’t help but chuckle. After all these years, his mother still believed that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. She had instilled in him that failure wasn’t an option or a choice. She also didn’t understand that a judge cannot be talking with defendant’s or becoming too familiar with them.

“Well, Mom, it’s a bit of a long story…”

“Robert, it always is. You know damn well how skittish and scared these women are. Promise me the next time, you get her to me.”

“Yes, ma’am, I will,” he said because chances were, Jane would be back in a courtroom again. They always came back unless they died. From what he had seen of her, she would surely be dead soon. He prayed that she offended again and he could get her to safety before her pimp or the streets murdered her. It was a waiting game of which would happen first.

The rest of the chapter continues on my Patreon site. I do hope you’ll join in. It’s $2.00 a month. An amazing deal! https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis

 

 

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Sure, without the pimps, there would be a lot less human trafficking of young girls and boys. I’m in favor of prosecuting the customers and helping the prostitutes. It’s the whole “supply and demand” factor.

But you have to dig much deeper to find out why that child went down the path they did.

What was lacking in their life? How was someone able to grab them and whisk them away?

For each child, there is perhaps a different answer.

I’m often asked “But what can we do? How do we stop this?”

I always answer “What can YOU do in your immediate area?”

Because that’s how this is done. You deal with your block, your neighborhood, your school, your city and start helping individuals.

Don’t expect anyone else to do it. Don’t wait for the government for they are always late on the scene. Laws are being passed, awareness and understanding is increasing, but it’s not enough.

To quote “Truckers Against Trafficking:”

“Imagine if these pimp’s words fell on deaf ears because young people knew they were worth more, knew people loved them, knew they had a future and a hope.

It is very important to be investing in the lives of our own children but also the lives of the youth around us.

Get involved in your community’s outreach programs.

Mentor, tutor, donate much needed supplies to local assistance programs, be kind to the kids in your neighborhood. 

Say hi to the morose teen.

If non-exploitative adults get involved, pimps and exploiters will struggle to get a foothold. Let’s stop allowing this to be so easy for them.” 

Pay attention to your children. Pay attention to the kids around you. Learn the signs. Teach them that they need not look outside themselves for validation. Give them love, too much love. Show them by example, that they are priceless and start with yourself.

Children learn by seeing more than by listening, but they do listen. They watch everything. They miss nothing.