Put Your Claws Away

For a good portion of my life, guys were my best friends. I had female friends, but I seemed to get along better with men. I rarely really stopped to think about why, just accepted it and had fun. Every now and then a female friend would say, “I’m so jealous of you that you….” It never made any sense to me, because I had always looked at whoever said it to and could immediately come up with a ton of things that they could do or that they had done that I would like to have or experience too. More often than not I was just excited to have them in my life so I could put myself in a position to have those experiences as well.

As I got older, I started to notice a trend in my friendships with women. I was friends with a lot of lesbians and women who had a good idea of who they are and what they want out of life. That reduced any kind of feelings of jealousy and meant that we could just have fun together and grow from the support we provided each other. Even still, it doesn’t come as easily as my friendships with men.

I’ve given a lot of thought to why recently and I think it has to do with our need to compete with each other.

Men Women Socialization

I have no idea who said it, but it seems accurate. And it’s a problem. A big one. What exactly are we fighting over? Why are we competing with each other? What’s our end goal?

Is it that we’ve been taught that the only way to feel good about ourselves is to make others feel worse about themselves? If everyone subscribed to that theory, the end result would be that we all feel bad about ourselves. What’s the point of that?

Comparing one woman to another is like comparing an apple to an orange. When it comes to men, some like apples and some like oranges. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the apple or the orange. People just have their preferences, and that’s okay.

When it comes to recipes, some call for apples, some call for oranges. That doesn’t mean that the apple or the orange has more value. Just in that particularly situation, one was better for the project than another.

There’s enough room in the world for apples AND oranges. Women are at a severe disadvantage in our society. People freaked out when Lego made a scientist set that didn’t include male Legos. Why? It’s not like male Legos are ever in short supply. Women make 77% of what men make for doing the same job with the same qualifications. How does that make sense? Women are expected to control male behavior by modifying their own. They have to dress modestly so men aren’t tempted by sexual desire. They have to change how they speak and respond to something so men doesn’t feel uncomfortable instead of the men taking responsibility for themselves.

To even begin to overcome these problems, women have to work together. We have to stop with fake the compliments. We have to stop tearing each other down publicly and in private. How we think is how we act.

We need to start praising each other for our accomplishments. One woman’s accomplishment is an accomplishment for all of us. Look at the newest Nobel Peace Prize winners,  Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. Their accomplishment has done great things for women all over the world.

Not all accomplishments have to be Nobel Peace Prize winning to matter. A promotion at work is a big deal as a lot of fields are male-dominated. Getting healthier physically and mentally is really important because it means a woman feels better and that is always a good thing. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In a time when people thrive on tearing each other down to feel better about themselves, that link is weak indeed.

The next time a friend posts a picture of herself in a short or tight dress because she’s been working out and it feels good to her to wear clothes like that, congratulate her on her hard work instead of thinking to yourself that she’s a tramp for sharing the picture. The next time a woman you know does something new and challenging to her, don’t think about how she’s bragging, share in her accomplishment. I think we’ll all find that when we start doing that, we all feel better about ourselves. The easiest way to feel good is to share good.

Hiding from the Sun

Having grown up in the State of Florida, I thought I knew what there was to know about living in hot places. I hated almost every minute of the oppressive heat and humidity. In recent years the winters haven’t even provided much relief.

And then I moved to the Middle East desert. NOW I know what hot is. It’s almost the middle of October and it’s still over 100 degrees regularly. There’s just something not right about that. I keep hearing that things will cool off, but every time I check the forecast it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Of course, when the people here talk about the early cooling off, they mean temps regularly in the 90s, rather than hot enough to boil water.

The crazy temperatures combined with the fact that I can’t wear a pair of shorts outside means that I haven’t been out exploring the city all that much. When it cools down, I plan on heading out to get some pictures of the buildings and landscape. Of course, one flat area of the desert pretty much looks like same as another, but I’ll try to grab some pictures.

I think one of the things I’m always struck by is the number of phallic structures around. And when I get a chance, those are what I usually take pictures of. Like The Torch.

The Torch

 

And there’s more where that came from. When it stops being so damn hot outside.

Possessor of the Penis, Please Read

Hello, Possessor of the Penis!*

I do hope you’re well as you read this. It’s just me, Lyndsy, wanting to have a chat with you. I do hope you’ll read this all the way through, even though it was written by a Possessor of the Vagina.

I want to start by saying that I’m not angry. Or emotional. Or on my period. I’m putting that out there because your first inclination once you read this will likely be to comment that I must be one of those three things. Those are the usual go-tos when women express thoughts about how men interact with us.

With that out of the way, I want to share a few things with you.

  1. Emotions are normal parts of being alive. Telling a woman to calm down is telling her not to be alive. That you have trouble expressing yours is your problem, not ours. Some days, things are shit. That makes people sad sometimes. Other times it makes them angry. Just because you personally don’t understand why someone may be feeling a certain way doesn’t mean what they are experiencing is invalid. My husband spent a lot of time screaming at the screen during the World Cup, I didn’t tell him to calm down even though it’s an event that gets repeated every four years. I let him get all excited about cars and video games too. Those are his things. Let the women in your life do their thing.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, women do not sit around plotting how to accuse men of sexual assault or domestic violence simply for shits and giggles. I have never once thought about it and I have actually been the victim of both in the past. Has it happened? Yes. But, just because it has happened in the past does not mean that your favorite athlete the victim of a devious scheme. Rather than jumping to the defense of your favorite steroid-taking ego maniac, think about what the woman might have to gain. In reality, it’s not much. More thean likely, she is already feeling shame and like it was her fault. People are going to scrutinize her personal life in ways no one’s life should ever be scrutinized. Do you want national media asking you about the number of women you’ve slept with throughout the course of your life? Or about those nights you can’t remember? Didn’t think so.
  3. For all the self-proclaimed “nice guys” out there – if you’re single, there could very well be a reason for that and it likely has nothing to do with the fact that “women just like the bad boy.” Really, we don’t. However, crushing on your best friend’s girlfriend doesn’t make you a “nice guy.” It makes you an asshole who has no respect for your friend and his relationship. Being friends with a woman, cozying up to her with the hope or expectation that she will one day want to have sex with you does not make you a nice guy. It makes you a creep. Invest in a woman because you find her interesting, intelligent, fun, etc. NOT because you want to slip your meat into her love mitten.
  4. Leadership is best done when you mix traits stereotypical of men AND women. Aggression and inflexibility promote anger and distrust among a team. Your employees may perform out of fear, but they’ll perform a lot better when understanding comes into play. When discussions are had instead of lectures.
  5. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If you want to go out three nights a week to hang with your bros, then your significant other gets to do the same. If you don’t want to do laundry or mop floors, don’t expect that she does either. Households are shared responsibilities. You don’t get to slack off and expect her to do all the work. If you’ve talked about it and agreed to it, that’s fine. But if you want her to be happy, encourage her to have and pursue her own interests. I am sure you’ll find that the happier she is, the happier you are.
  6. Male privilege is a real thing. Women do seriously make less than men do, for doing the same jobs. And it’s not that women are less capable than men. What seems to be forgotten is that we need men and women doing all jobs so they get done as well as they possibly can. More perspective is better. Different ways of looking at problems. Finding things that the other can’t see because it’s outside their realm of experience.

But the real thing to think about is how much less enriched your lives would be without the women you love. Seriously, stop and think about what your life would be like if women stopped being part of it. Women are finally realizing that we should have each other’s backs and not put up with the bullshit that men have been spewing for years. If you don’t shape up, you’re going to find yourself without the women you love so much. Don’t let it happen to you.

*And yes, I realize that not all men act like jackasses. But, even if you don’t, chances are good you know someone who does. Instead of letting it slide next time, put the dipshit back in line.

Public Shaming is NOT Okay

I was ecstatic last week when the Gators managed to pull out a victory over Tennessee. Treon Harris, freshman quarterback, comes out of nowhere and the Vols are left crying in their ugly orange outfits. Unfortunately, the victory was almost immediately overshadowed by the allegation that Harris sexually assaulted a female student after returning from the game. I’m proud of how the University of Florida responded to the allegation. He was immediately suspended while the investigation was pending. This is huge at a time when other universities (yeah, I’m talking about you FSU) don’t immediately look into serious allegations like that.

The allegation has since been withdrawn by the woman who made it. Harris has been reinstated and will play today. I should be overjoyed, but I’m not. The circumstances surrounding the withdrawal make me pretty uneasy.

Harris’ attorney released a statement on Thursday, which stated that the woman and Harris had been corresponding by text message from the time the game ended until he arrived back in Gainesville that night, that they knew each other before that, and had socialized together prior that evening. But, he also included that she had been sexually intimate with someone else prior to being involved with Harris, and referred to her as a “sexual aggressor.” He detailed that a number of witnesses saw them together beforehand and that everything looked like they were having a good time. They exchanged messages the next day.

I can tell you from personal experience that that does not mean that a sexual assault did not occur.

I obviously have no idea what happened between this woman and Harris. What I do know is that Harris’ attorney shamed a woman for absolutely no reason. What she did or didn’t do with someone else prior to being involved with Harris is irrelevant. She could have slept with the entire football team before spending any time with Harris. None of that sheds any light on whether Harris sexually assaulted her. Just because a woman enjoys sex does not mean she wants to have sex with every man she meets.

Let’s say it together now. Just because a woman has multiple sexual partners does not mean she automatically consents to sex with every man.

Also, women can change their mind about whether they want to have sex with someone. Maybe the woman thought it was something she wanted to do, but when put in the situation, the idea no longer appealed to her. Maybe she thought one thing was going to happen and Harris wanted something else. No one but the two of them will ever know.

What I do know is this: Harris’ attorney made public statements about her sex life, insinuating that she was a sexually aggressive whore and that no one was going to believe what she said anyway.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want that to happen to me or anyone I care about.

Musings on the Minimum Wage

My first job was as a cashier at Wal-Mart. I was 16 and I worked primarily on the weekends. During the summers I went full-time. When I started there, a lot of the people I worked with were like me – students earning a little money for a car or just spending. A lot of the non-managers were moms, looking to make some extra money for their families now that their kids were in school full-time. Minimum wage was $5.25 an hour, but I made a cool $5.40. For me, that was good money. I did a pretty simple job and had money to blow when I wanted to go out with my friends.

Things have changed since then, quite a bit. The auto industry hadn’t fallen completely apart in 1997. Jobs weren’t being outsourced to other countries as soon as we had a need for them. Wal~Mart was still advertising how it was proud to carry products with the stamp “Made in America.” We in the United States had not yet figured out how much cheaper (though less safe) it was to have children in China make our toys.

It’s 2014. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. To put it in a more useful perspective, people working full-time at minimum wage in 1997 made $840 per month, before taxes. Now, it’s $1,160 per month, an increase of $320. That seems like a decent raise. Until you factor in how much more expensive everything else has gotten.

In 1997, gas was somewhere around $1.50 per gallon. If you figure that the average person uses a 13-gallon tank once per week (and that’s on the low end), that’s $78 per month. You could find a place to live for around $600/month. A pound of ground beef was about $2. You could see a movie for $5. Even then, on minimum wage, you’re scraping by.

Today gas is somewhere around $4/gallon. For the same fill-up schedule as in 1997, you’re paying over $200 per month for gas. Rent is $800 per month. Internet, something that didn’t really exist in 1997 for a lot of people, is at least $25 per month. Cell phones. something else most of us didn’t have in 1997 (unless you were a drug dealer), have replaced land lines, and are typically $40 per month before taxes, and that’s for the cheaper prepaid plan.

That “extra” $320 per month disappears faster than it gets made.

So, yes, I think they need to take a look at raising the minimum wage. However…

Raising the minimum wage isn’t going to fix the problems we have. There’s a limit to how much it can be raised before we start to see a trend toward the negative. I enjoy going to McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, and pretty much everywhere else except Taco Bell. Am I willing to pay a little more for my value meal if it means someone is going to keep their lights on? Absolutely.

But there will come a point when I think to myself, “Holy shit! Those chicken nuggets better give me a massage before I eat them for that price.” When that happens, I’ll go out to eat less and less. And so will you. When we go out to eat less, restaurants close or reduce the number of employees. Then we’re back at square one.

We need more jobs. Good jobs. The ones that disappeared overseas, we need them back. People rail against Wal-Mart because they’re huge, closely held by a small number of family members, and when something goes wrong, it’s incredibly public and awful. But let’s remember, Target, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Hot Topic aren’t non-profits either. These people are in business to make money. That means that they cut hours so they don’t have to cover anyone’s insurance. They outsource jobs and buy goods made elsewhere because it’s cheaper. It freaks me out that the frozen chicken nuggets I love so much are probably coming from China. Seriously? We can’t make those bad boys in the US?

What we fail to realize is that we, the consumer, are the problem. It’s a simple situation of economics – if demand rises, so does supply. We demand these things, so they provide them. It’s as simple as that. It’s hard to not buy products from China since it seems like everything is made there. But, if we made a conscious effort to buy less made overseas, we might make a difference.

If we bought secondhand instead of buying everything new, we might make a difference.

If we actually paid attention to elections and voted for candidates who were going to do something to help us, instead of helping big business, we might make a difference.

If we started pushing for our representatives to enact legislation that closed tax loopholes for businesses who export jobs overseas, we might make a difference.

If we told our representatives that we want to reward businesses who keep the jobs in the United States, we might make a difference.

If we started thinking about how much we consume and whether we actually needed all of it, we might make a difference.

If we spent money on those facing difficult times, instead of ourselves (do you actually need that $5 cup of coffee every day?), we might make a difference.

So I ask you this, how are YOU going to make a difference today? Tell me more ways that I can make a difference today.

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Three Months In, Three Things I’ve Learned

I’ve been married now for 90 days! Three whole months! I realize that that is not a long time by pretty much all standards, though, my marriage has lasted longer than Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian’s first marriages. That counts for something, right? No? Fair enough.

It all still seems a little crazy to me. I haven’t even known him for a year (we’re about 2 weeks shy of that). I only met him in person at the end of last December. And yet we’ve been married for 3 months. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change anything. Meeting and marrying Mr. Lyndsy are easily at the top of list of things to happen in my life (as it should be).

Because we lived 8,000 miles apart before we got married, we didn’t live together beforehand. I know that’s how things used to work all the time, and how it still works for a lot of people. I never thought that would be me though. I really subscribed to the theory that the best thing to do is to live with your future partner before marriage to see whether you can live together without attempting to murder each other. He leaves his socks out so you plan to strangle him with them. You refuse to put dishes away, so he thinks about breaking them over your head.

Here are some things I’ve learned about us.

1. Neither of us likes to put away laundry.

Laundry

Once I figured out how to use the washing machine, I was on a roll. We have to hang it to dry and I can get as far as folding it, but actually carrying it to the bedroom seems beyond me. I think it’s more convenient for him that it’s on the table, so that’s where it stays. We never actually eat at the table, or use it for anything else really.

2. We are TERRIBLE at sharing the bed and blankets. I would swear it started with him, but he says it’s me. All I know is that when I first got here, I woke up freezing, a lot. If you believe me, when he turns, he takes the blankets with him. If you believe him (which you shouldn’t), I’m the the one who turns with them. We both toss and turn a lot.

He’s also not great about sharing the space. I rolled over one night and just about lost an eye to his elbow. Another night I rolled back to the center of the bed and ran smack into him. I woke up by myself one day because, as Mr. Lyndsy tells it, I went to bed early because I was exhausted, but he was still up playing video games. He came in to go to sleep, but I was sprawled across the entire bed, so rather than wake me up, he slept on the futon in the second bedroom. I do have a habit of taking over a bed. (But only when I’m the only person in it. I think.)

For the blanket issue at least, we came up with a solution early on.

Blankets

 

We now each have our own blankets! Complete with duvet covers we picked out ourselves. I like how it ended up looking a little like a wedding dress and tux. And we don’t have to worry about trying to steal the others’s blanket anymore. I find his to be too scratchy and Mr. Lyndsy thinks it’s soft. I’m sure he thinks mine is too soft. Either way, we’re both much happier now.

3. None of this matters. His dirty laundry ends up everywhere. I leave a trail of stuff behind me no matter where I go. I took over his favorite corner of the couch. He leaves the TV on when he’s done watching. We don’t care. For us, the most important thing is that we’re together. We spent so long apart while desperately wanting to be near each other, that all of this is just not important. We still love spending time together. I’m overjoyed when he comes home from work.

It probably helps that he subscribes to the “happy wife, happy life” theory. You know how I know? He took me to Disney on Ice.

Disney on Ice

I know you’re not reading this, Mr. Lyndsy, but I love you to infinity and beyond.

 

2

Putting it out there

I just finished reading a book called Write for Your Life to help me work through issues I have about my writing. The book was originally a seminar that the author used to host with his wife, but he turned it into a book so people who couldn’t make it to the seminar could still benefit. He also thought it might be a good way to sell the seminar. At this point he has stopped the seminars, so this was the only way I was getting the information. I found it extremely effective, in part, because the book encourages you to face your fears head on, because once you show them the light of day, they aren’t nearly as scary.

One of the exercises was to write down everything we wouldn’t want anyone else to know about ourselves. When we write, we shy away from going anywhere near those topics, lest anyone figure out that we are what we don’t want to admit. (I hope that made sense.) This was more effective at the seminar because people had to express these things to someone who is a relative stranger. They’d been interacting throughout the day, but after the seminar they were unlikely to see each other again.

I made the list, but sitting in my notebook, on a page no one else is going to see sort of seemed to defeat the purpose a little. So I’m doing what I do best – sharing more of myself on the internet than a lot of people care to read. However, I hope that once I put all of this out there, I won’t have anything to hide from anymore. I’ve debated about this for the last couple of hours, so I’m just plunging into the cold ass water, ripping off the Band Aid, [insert your own expression here].

Things I didn’t want anyone to know about me:

  1. My first sexual experience was rape.
  2. I’ve been the victim of domestic violence.
  3. There was a period of my life as an adult where I didn’t believe my parents loved me, and if they didn’t love me, who would?
  4. I’ve never really felt attractive.
  5. I’ve been severely depressed and suicidal (like had a plan for how to send good-bye emails on at time delay and the manner of suicide).
  6. I’ve often felt completely alone in my life.
  7. I didn’t felt good enough for pretty much anything most of my life.
  8. I usually feel pretty alone even though I have some amazing friends and family.
  9. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but never thought I was good enough.
  10. I went to law school to gain my mother’s approval, not really because I was interested in going to law school.
  11. I think that if I’m good at something, it has to be because it’s easy to do, not because I’m good at it.
  12. I’ve always wanted a family of my own, and a big one, but worried I’d never have it.
  13. I also never thought I’d find someone who really got me and wanted to be with me. (SCRATCH THAT OFF! Love you, Mr. Lyndsy – even though he won’t read this.)

Anyway, now that they’re out there, I do feel a little better. I’ve worked through most of these issues, and what I haven’t, I am still working on it now. I don’t feel nearly as concerned about my looks as I used to, though I occasionally have some lapses. I do think this will help my writing and I hope I’m not shying away from anything else going forward.

If you’ve ever felt any of the things I listed, you’re clearly not alone. If you ever want to chat about them, we totally can.

Also, even if you don’t want to be a writer, the book is pretty good for working through your fears, though a lot of the exercises are things you can find elsewhere. If you want more details about the book, let me know!

(And yes, that’s an affiliate link up there.)

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My friend Mary, the embodiment of Courage

A friend of mine from law school recently lost her son, Patrick, just before he was 11 months old. Patrick was born with a very unique heart anatomy and after an extended hospital stay in which doctors finally realized there wasn’t anything they could do for him, Mary and her husband Phil decided to bring him home so he could live out his life in a loving environment, filled with cuddles and snuggles from them, his sister Mira, and their circle of family and friends.

They knew about Patrick’s unique anatomy before he was born. Their daughter, Mira, was also born with CHD, so they knew at least a little about what this was going to be like for him. They remained hopeful that Patrick would flourish the way Mira has, but it wasn’t to be.

Starting with their decision to use IVF to conceive, Mary has been blogging about their lives. Those of us who have chosen to have shared the highs, lows, and everything in between. Mary puts it all out there – the joys, the questions, the heartbreak, when she feels like she’s maybe not doing the right thing (though she always acts through love). Those of us who have been reading along are heartbroken for their loss. A huge community of people is in mourning right now, at a loss for how we can help. This is truly a testament to Mary and Phil, and the love they put into this universe.

To me, this choice to share so much of their lives, even when she didn’t think it made her look good, is courage at its finest. She had no way of knowing who might find her blogs or what they might say, but she wrote anyway. I know that there are people who have taken comfort in what she’s written, who have found peace in their own lives.

If you want to read about their journey, go to Fixing Patrick’s Heart. You can find the link to her past blog there as well, and get in on this from the beginning. There are some really adorable pictures of Mira, Patrick, Phil and Mary on those pages. Those children will just light up your life.

If you’ve read this far, I would ask that you take just 30 seconds to send loving thoughts their way. They need all the love and support this world can give them right now. Also, take a minute to hug someone you love.

Mary, you will forever be a complete and total rock star to me. I’m sending so much love your way.

Sometimes you just have to take the damn pill

It’s been just over 7 months that I’ve had a day without pain. It started with my back in late January (though it had been off and on before that) and has now spread to my right leg after a less than wonderful surgical result. Saying that chronic pain sucks is both obvious and an understatement.

My chronic pain is more than just the pain I feel in my back, leg, or foot. It’s the depression and frustration that come with the inability to do things that I used to be able to do somewhat easily. That come with the fact that things that we do every day or on a regular basis are now more dangerous for me to do. I can’t pick up my right foot, so stepping over the wall of the bathtub to take a shower requires a lot of concentration. If I don’t focus while I walk, I trip over my foot and go sprawling onto the ground, scraping hands and knees and tweaking my back. Not ideal after a lumbar fusion.

It’s also exhausting. Pain is the body’s way of alerting you that something is wrong and trying to get you to do something to help it fight an invader or fix itself. That process takes energy, and not a small amount. Add that to whatever it takes just to function through a normal day, and by the time bedtime rolls around, you’re pretty much done for. If you’re lucky, you can sleep well your while your body gets to take more time to heal itself. If you aren’t, the pain keeps you awake and your body doesn’t get the time it needs to heal.

One night recently I was trying to fall asleep. That day I’d been feeling especially overwhelmed, stressed out, and depressed. My back, leg, and foot were causing me a lot of pain and I was also trying to get a handle on my life and what I’m doing with it. Between the thoughts racing around my head and the pain, I could not sleep. No matter which position I tried a pain in my hip would not go away. I finally gave up and dove into my supply of oxycodone. It took about 15 minutes for the drugs to take effect, but once they did, everything got better. With the pain gone, I could focus on my thoughts and come up with a battle plan for life. I was able to break the stress into more manageable pieces and stop feeling the stress as much. I stopped feeling like I was trapped at the bottom of a well with no way out.

I’d been avoiding painkillers, trying to force myself to get used to the pain. My reasoning was that since it wasn’t a constant 8 out of 10 on the scale it wasn’t really that bad. Most of the time it hangs out somewhere between 2-4, spiking up to 10 occasionally, but the spikes usually cap at a 7 or 8. I realize now just how ridiculous I was.

Having a low level of constant pain is like having a fly buzz around your ear all day long. It’s annoying, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s just a fly, right? The problem is that constant stimulation like that will drive even the most reasonable people to snap. You have to do something to take care of it before it gets to a breaking point. Upping the level of the pain only increases the rate at which you reach the breaking point and the force of the explosion.

I need to have more respect for the constant stress my body is under, especially since it doesn’t look like the sources of pain are going to get better any time soon. I’m considering a tendon transfer so I can walk a little more easily, but that doesn’t guarantee that the nerve pain will go away though I hope it eases some of the foot and ankle pain I’ve had. My back is still just recovering from the fusion. If I need a pill so the little fly doesn’t turn me into a suicidal or homicidal woman, then I need to take the damn pill.

1

Random Ramblings: A self-sustaining USA, corporate greed, and community

My brain likes to torment me as I try to fall asleep. A few nights ago it started with, “Why isn’t the United States more self-sustaining?” By this, my brain was trying to figure out why the US imports so many goods. (At the time I wasn’t thinking about the number of people in the US from other countries who provide services, but that’s a good question too.) You look at the labels most things and they say “Made in [insert country not the US].”

Don’t get me wrong – we live in a global economy, it would almost impossible not to import some products. But it seems like a lot of what the US has comes from somewhere else. It blew my mind to see that we get our frozen chicken from overseas. Don’t we have the resources in the US for pretty much whatever we want? A lot of countries don’t have the diverse terrain we do for growing different crops. We can’t grow everything, but we can grow a lot. We used to make a lot of cars. You get the idea.

And then I wondered if it comes down to the money of it. It’s simply cheaper to get the goods elsewhere. Obviously businesses exist to make money. The cheaper the product, the more they can make on it, especially if they’re selling it at the cost we were used to paying when it was made in the US. When I worked at a big box retailer I got to see some of the product mark-ups. The biggest mark-up I saw? Christmas lights! Those things cost maybe 10 cents and get sold for $2.50, which seemed like a great deal! If we can grow our own crops, how is it cheaper to bring them into the US from somewhere else?

Is it the labor surrounding the product – both cultivating the raw goods and the labor to build the product? And, if it is the labor, how is it so much cheaper? Labor in the US got more expensive as human casualties from working conditions rose. The 40-hour workweek, insurance requirements, minimum safety conditions, etc. We decided that human lives were too much to pay.

A lot has been discussed about the labor standards in China, or rather, the lack thereof. A lot of products sold in the US come from China. If we weren’t willing to tolerate it for people who work in the US, why are okay with it for the people of China? Or Vietnam? Or Pakistan? Is that we think we, as US citizens, are better than they are? That they don’t deserve the same kinds of safety regulations?

Also, on a related note, if they don’t have the same safety conditions for their workers, what about the safety regulations of the products? Is a product that comes from somewhere else going to be as safe as they are allegedly supposed to be if they’re made in the US? Don’t we care about that? Is it an out of sight, out of mind philosophy?

The other thing is why we allow corporate greed to control so much of what we do. A lot of people in the US don’t have jobs and yet instead of moving toward finding ways to put people here to work, we continually export jobs to other places. When did we stop caring about each other’s welfare that we are so okay with people here starving? Being okay with people being on government assistance because the jobs were shipped overseas (but then telling them to quit being lazy and find a job!)?

And is that the real core of the problem? That we just don’t care about each other anymore? Are we so obsessed with having that we forget about being? How can we fix this?

Obviously there’s a lot more that goes into these discussions and I need to do a lot more research, but it seems like it goes back to an Us vs. Them mentality, but on a global scale.