Silence!

What if you couldn’t speak anymore? Not only you, everyone! Would change everything or would we just adapt?

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Picture this. You wake up and you are not longer able to talk. You try to make a moan, a grunt, or even whisper and you are unable to. You wake up the person closest to you and they too soon realize they are unable to speak. Trying not to freak out you try to call your parents and you hear the phone being picked up but no sound on the other end. What if this become a reality. No speaking, no verbal communication, no more talking. How much would this change our way of life?

First of all we must come to realize that most of our communication isn’t done verbally anymore. Most of what we communicate is over text message, email, or by physical actions.

If this say ‘disease’ continued for a few years what would this change? We would have to find a faster way to communicate immediately such as a new form of instant messaging. Would this hinder groups in general? I do feel like this would have some effect on the groups that we form everyday such as teams, religions, or even political groups. Why? Well if we are unable to compellingly convince others of what we are thinking who would want to be apart of that group.

Face-to-face communication would slowly dwindle as time went on. Hanging out with friends and just talking wouldn’t be as fun anymore as there wouldn’t be anymore emotion in the way someone is speaking. As it is even happening now, people tend to enjoy group chats, 1 on 1 messaging over actually getting a cup of coffee with the person or going out with friends.

Emotion would be lost in all conversations. Happiness would dwindle as you wouldn’t be able to laugh anymore. The feeling of ‘lol’ or ‘lmao’ already means nothing to most of us as we aren’t really ‘laughing out loud’ most of the time in my experience.

Weirdly enough I am finding silence to become the social norm. More people are unable to speak in public places or talk to a stranger. Most of it is done by body language or done in apps are more fast food places now allow you to order on your phone skipping the verbal ordering way. What would total silence mean to you? Peace or madness?

Solving The Gun Nightmare

After years of mass shootings throughout the United States and relatively little changes to laws to mitigate such incidents from taking place, we are finally beginning to see some hope for progress that may save countless lives going into the future of our country. Unfortunately, many people needlessly suffered and died in order to push our politicians to take the matter more seriously. The latest horror story came out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 2018 Nikolas Cruz, a former student with a history of mental illness, used an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon to murder 17 people. 14 of those people were students and 3 were staff members. The students were 14 year old Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 year old Martin Duque Anguiano, 17 year old Nicholas Dworet, 14 year old Jaime Guttenberg, 14 year old Cara Loughran, 14 year old Gina Montalto, 17 year old Joaquin Oliver, 14 year old Alaina Petty, 18 year old Meadow Pollack, 17 year old Helena Ramsay, 14 year old Alex Schachter, 16 year old Carmen Schentrup, 15 year old Luke Hoyer and 15 year old Peter Wang. The staff members were 35 year old Scott Beigel, 37 year old Aaron Feis and 49 year old Chris Hixon.

These people innocently and needlessly suffered and lost their lives. Their parents, friends and family will never see them again. Their fellow schoolmates are forever traumatized by experiencing a massacre first hand. This is what happens when we as a society fail to protect each other and especially our children, whom look to us to protect them.

Many times in the past, gun violence resulted in deaths but no changes to laws to prevent such events from happening again. However, as alluded to earlier, there are signs of hope for change this time. Students around Florida have arranged rallies to demand change in gun laws to end the violence that was bought upon them. Students have marched to the capitol of Florida and even to the White House to demand change. They demand that this will be the last time such violence can be allowed to occur. This is unlike any response to gun violence that our country has ever seen and it is already showing signs that it will result in successfully changing gun laws and taking steps towards preventing these acts from happening in the future.

President Trump held a listening session on Wednesday where he met with family and friends of gun violence victims around the country to discuss ideas to stop school shootings. The President vowed to students at the meeting to have tougher background checks and mental health screenings for people trying to buy guns. He also would be open to banning bump stocks which allows semi-automatic weapons to act as automatic weapons. He is even considering arming teachers to be the first responders in the event of a school shooting.

These student are making a difference with their protesting. It is wonderful to see that they are influencing the President towards making it harder for people to buy semi-automatic and automatic weapons and taking measure to prevent future shootings like this from happening again. However, as many students have suggested, much more than what has been talked about needs to be done. Here are some ideas that if implemented may make a big difference in preventing future shootings from happening:

  1. Ban the legal selling of semi-automatic and automatic weapons. There is no need for them. These are weapons of war. The Second Amendment was made for civilians to be able to defend themselves. Weapons of war are not necessary for defense.
  2. Extreme vetting must be done for anyone who wants to purchase a legal gun.
  3. Law enforcement around the country must devote much more energy into breaking up the black market weapon business. This will prevent many criminals from getting guns illegally.
  4. Heighten security at schools. There should only be one entrance door. All other doors must be locked from the outside but can serve as emergency exits from the inside. There must be metal detectors and scanners when entering the school. There also must be cameras in the school, around the school and focused on all doors. Security must be watching these cameras at all times while one or two armed security guards trained to defend remain in front of the school entrance all day. One or two security guards should also keep watch and walk around the outside of the school throughout the day. The outside security should not be allowed to come into the school for any reason other than to defend against an attacker and the security guards walking around, guarding in front and watching the cameras must have the ability to wirelessly communicate. There needs to be trained security. Teachers are not police and should not be relied upon to do a police officers job. They do not have the proper training and cannot focus on teaching and potentially being a superhero at the same time. Such security as this can and should also be applied to all public buildings like theaters, museums and hospitals.
  5. All workplace environments including schools, hospitals, and businesses of all sorts must have mandatory training of all members in being able to detect people who may be suffering from a mental illness and may pose a threat to themselves or others. In schools, this includes making students aware of how to detect when someone might not be well and may be a threat also. We need to reach out as a society and provide help to those in need to avoid their suffering and to prevent the possibility of them doing something terrible. When someone suspects something may not be right, they must be trained to report it to the proper authority, be that a psychologist or whoever. Individuals can even reach out to help that person as well just by providing friendship.

These are just some ideas that can help prevent needless suffering and death. There are many more out there but we need to share them so that horrors like this recent school shooting never have to happen again.

The Zero Waste Lifestyle

With anthropomorphic (man-made) climate change rapidly increasing in strength, and politicians being unable to implement the proper responses to help mitigate the effects in many areas of the world, many individuals are turning to themselves to help contribute towards mitigating the destruction of climate change. How are they doing so? By adopting a “zero waste” lifestyle.

Going Zero Waste means trying to eliminate as much unnecessary garbage that comes out of our houses and goes to landfills as possible. The massive amounts of garbage humans produce is a huge contributor to climate change and the destruction of our planet. Much of our garbage goes to landfills, cannot be broken down very quickly if at all and can often be toxic for the Earth to absorb. Cutting our garbage production down as much as possible will be crucial going into the future in order to preserve our planet’s habitability and the many species it nourishes, including ourselves of course.

So how does someone live a zero waste lifestyle? First, it is important for anyone who plans to adopt a new lifestyle to gradually implement whatever it is into their lives. This is the same with going zero waste. If you try to do it over night, you will be highly likely to become stressed, turned off and ultimately fail. The key to successfully leading a zero waste lifestyle and having a zero waste household is to slowly implement changes over the course of months.

When going zero waste you will want to stick towards buying reusable or biodegradable items. Here are some examples of the types of products zero wasters use:

  1. clay, metal or glass kitchenware instead of plastic or paper. (reusable)
  2. bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic toothbrushes. (reusable and biodegradable)
  3. clothes or household materials like bed sheets made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, hemp and bamboo because these materials are biodegradable (reusable and biodegradable)
  4. handkerchiefs and rags instead of tissues, napkins or paper towels. (biodegradable)
  5. soap bars rather than liquid soap to avoid plastic bottles.
  6. metal bottles instead of plastic bottles. (reusable)
  7. metal containers for carrying food instead of plastic bags, paper bags, or tin foil. (reusable)
  8. glass jars for storing food rather than plastic containers. (reusable)

In addition to trying to stick to reusable and biodegradable items, zero wasters also implement these practices into their lives to reduce their carbon footprint:

  1. buying food in bulk
  2. minimizing buying packaged items
  3. minimizing use of electric equipment because of its dependence on gas
  4. minimizing driving and opting for biking and opting for hybrid or electric cars
  5. adopting a plant based or vegan diet
  6. composting trash such as food scraps and some forms of paper because this feeds the soil rather than going to landfills and being wasted
  7. women may opt for a reusable menstrual cup rather than disposable pads
  8. preparing their own food and limiting dining out
  9. creating a small zero waste kit of items to use when at restaurants to avoid using disposable straws or napkins
  10. creating their own soaps, deoderants and toothpaste rather than buying ones with environmentally harmful chemicals in them
  11. using solar energy

Of course going zero waste does not mean completely eliminating all trash in your home or life. It is rather obvious that this will be nearly impossible, if not completely impossible to do. However, slowly adopting as many zero waste practices as possible for you, such as these, will make a big difference in helping to mitigate the growth of climate change strength and the subsequent problems it will bring. If half the population tried going zero waste, the benefits for the planet would be enormous. Individuals inspire other individuals, so don’t discourage yourself from trying simply because most people aren’t. With that mindset nothing will change, and change is needed to respond properly to climate change. If one person tries zero waste, more will be inspired to do so, as is currently happening, and a movement will take place. If you’re Catholic try implementing a zero waste lifestyle starting this Lenten season. You may even save some money along the way!

To Bag or Not To Bag?

Plastic bags are everywhere, literally. If you live in the city, they are almost like a new breed of animal that is exclusive to the city. Oh wait, we already have those, pidgeons. But really, plastic bags are at stores, on the street, in the “garbage”, flying around in the air, in your car, at your home, and you’re actually probably holding one right now as you rush around doing chores, in which case, I wonder why you are reading this if you are running around doing chores.

Plastic bags are a crazy invention of the modern age. It is amazing that high density polyethylene, the plastic used to make the common plastic bag, was only first created in 1953. In 1965 the common plastic bag was created, and in 1979 it was first introduced to America. Only 40 years?! It is crazy to think that a good portion of our parents grew up without this toxic death weapon. Say what? Yeah that’s right. Plastic bags are deadly. I mean, aside from being an actual choking hazard, plastic bags are one of the major everyday items that are destroying our planet.

The pollution of plastic in our oceans is having a detrimental effect on the environment. Many animals end up consuming plastic and this can choke them or block pathways in their bodies and eventually kill them. A good prption of these animals live in the ocean, and this is part of the reason why our ocean life is depleting so rapidly. On a mass scale this can destroy vast ecosystems as different species dwindle in number causing a chain reaction in the food chain. Speaking of the food chain, if animals eat other animals that have plastic in them, then they too consume plastic and succumb to the same fate as their food. This kind of makes plastic bags like the plague for wild animals, sea life in particular.

Another problem with plastic is that it doesn’t degarde very well, it can last 500 or more years. It just becomes smaller and smaller. It becomes what is called microplastics. These microplastics create toxic chemicals that can pollute the earth and human food also. So, if you think humans will be just fine, think again. We are all a part of this world and the plastic threat may not be at our door yet but it sure is coming down the block fast.

Climate Change will change our world forever, and it is growing in strength. Some damage is irreversible, but we can stop further harm. The planet is heating up and the past few years have been the hottest on record. There has never been a time on record that the planet had so many consecutive hottest year record years. For this reason some countries have implemented a tax on plastic bags, being that they are a major contributor to the plastic problems. Some have even banned single use plastic bags all together, which is the best solution to this problem.

15 countries in Africa have either banned it or placed a tax on it. China has banned plastic bags, France has and even California has banned single use plastic bags. It is the first state in the United States to do so.

It is encouraging to see the world is beginning to take some measures to fight pollution and climate change, but we cannot depend on every country to make the right decisions. We must be proactive citizens. We have a problem, and we need to help solve it for ourselves, future generations and all life on earth. Abstaining from plastic bags is just one of the very simple changes we can make in our daily lives that, at a large scale, can send a message that citizens no longer want to use products that harm the planet and so many species. This will cause production to halt and the environment will be greatly spared much more harm.

So, next time you go grocery shopping and that angry old lady is ready to send your bottle of pepsi home surrounded by a protection force of ten indestructable plastic bags, because you know they love to bag and bag and bag, tell her save her energy, because you got your own reusable shopping bags that won’t end up killing off whole ecosystems. She’ll look at you like you’re a damn hippy, but her grandkids will thank you.