Monday, March 28, 2011

Playing with Possibilities

I graduate in just over a month. Pause while I freak out.

OK, freak out over.

I know what I'm doing this fall. I'll be volunteering with Americorps in a program called City Year, one that focuses on tutoring and mentoring children in under-served areas. My placement is in Little Rock, Arkansas and I'm both excited and nervous. I'll be in DC till July, so that I can earn extra cash (to put down my security deposit and first month's rent) and have my last hurrah. It runs from August till June, so we'll see what happens. I realized how much I loved working with children and young people when I was in Kenya, so this seems like a perfect fit.

It's funny because it just hit me how much life I have ahead of me. It's not like turning eighteen, when you're considered an adult in the loose sense of the term but you don't really feel like one yet. At almost 22, however, it feels real. In the last four years, I've held down a job, completed two internships, lived in Kenya, paid my own rent, made a ton of mistakes, networked, questioned my faith, fell in love, and made amazing, lifelong friends. Now, I see a variety of dreams, opportunities, and possibilities.

I almost wonder, what will happen after City Year? I do hope to go back to DC, maybe work a few years. I kind of wonder. Will I go abroad for an extended period? Get my Master's? In what? Theology, Economics, or International Relations? Go for a Ph.d? Where will I work? Will I move back to DC? To NYC? Will I be a policy wonk? A teacher? A youth minister?

It's not fear anymore. I'm genuinely excited to see how my life will turn out. I know now that it's my choice at this point. It kind of reminds me of that quote on Braveheart, "Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it." I hope I always remember to have that courage.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"But I'm an Adult!"

Many of my friends have been negatively affected by the economy and, as such, had to move in with their parents for a brief period (luckily, most of them are now out and on their own). One thing they always complained about was not being able to stay out late or bringing dates home. I said, "Well, it's their house." "But we're adults!" a friend responded.

Yes, moving back in with your parents after you've gone away to school-especially if you paid for your own apartment or studied abroad-sucks. You don't want them to see you as the kid they've known for eighteen years. You want to be treated with respect and seen as more of a friend or at least have them play more of a mentor role in your life. You're doing it because you have to, not because you necessarily want to, because you need a place while you look for jobs and save money to move out. You still want to be able to live the life you've been living for the last four years.

At the same time, I can understand the parents' point of view. They're not always trying to treat you like a kid. Rather, the whole staying out late/bringing people home may be more of a courtesy thing. If your parents have to be up early to go to work or are light sleepers, they may not want to hear someone rolling in at 2 AM. Bringing dates home may fly in the face of their morals (which they have a right to enforce in their own house) or may make them feel vulnerable (you're bringing home someone they don't know, who may steal their stuff for all they know). They may expect help with the chores or minor rent payments, as a sign of responsibility.

Neither side is perfect and that aspect of transition is a tough time. Don't make it harder by demanding your own way in the face of their feelings. It's their house. After legal adulthood/paying for school, they may feel they're doing you a kindness by letting you come home for a brief period. If you go in with that understanding, you can make your stay a pleasant one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HUNGER for Righteousness

I've been fasting. It's hard. It's hard to ignore that growl in my stomach, that intense craving for delicious food. It's hard to ignore my heightened sense of smell for all things delicious. It's hard to ignore the pain in my head that tells me this isn't right. It's hard to not pray for the sun to sleep so I can fulfill my craving.

It's funny because, in the New Testament, Jesus says, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness." Reading that on a normal day, I can appreciate the sentiments on a more shallow level. Now, though, I feel I can understand it a bit more.

"Blessed are those who HUNGER and thirst for righteousness." Hunger is painful! Yet righteousness and justice are sorely lacking on this planet. Everywhere in the world, people are starving, thirsting, for physical food and water while a small percentage makes millions off of their sweat. Everywhere in the world, fertile land is made barren by others' greed and we lose not only the Earth's beauty but its ability to feed the planet. Everywhere in the world, people put each other on the same level as the commodities they purchase. Yet, where is this intense hunger for change?

Our hunger for righteousness should be hard to ignore, like the growling in our stomachs. Our hunger for righteousness should be a warning sign that something isn't right, like a hunger headache. Our hunger for righteousness should give us a heightened sense of smell for injustice, like the heightened sense of smell for food. More importantly, our hunger for righteousness should give us a longing to make the world a better place.

Once you feel the pains of hunger, you have no choice but to act upon it. Let our hunger for justice be strong so that our work can make us full!

Monday, March 14, 2011


For Lent, three of us girls plus my boyfriend all decided to try something. We decided to take the idea of fasting for Ramadan and apply it to Lent (one of my girl friends was raised by both a Catholic mother and Muslim father). We decided to wait till after the break (wanting to enjoy meals with families) so today is day one. I had done a Catholic fast for Ash Wednesday (one full meal, two lesser meals, plus water) and abstained from meat on Friday but I wanted to see what it would be like to go without food for thirteen hours. So, with a couple modifications (no fasting on Sundays, as they're feast days for Catholics, and no forgoing water, as I have had health issues), I started.

It doesn't feel too hard for the first couple of hours. I start feeling a bit hungry, but it's easy to ignore. I feel a bit slower but in a good way. I feel I can take moments at a leisurely pace and I feel peaceful, spiritual. I realize that I don't need to constantly be snacking on something. I tend to eat a lot, many times out of sheer boredom, the need to have something in my hands, or because there's a lot of food and I don't want to waste it. At the same time, I feel this inability to master my appetite. Part of it comes from always being told I was too skinny and feeling the need to prove that I'm not an anorexic (that stuff stays with you when you're a little kid). Another part is I just love food. So this kind of freedom has proven I can master my desires.

After awhile, it hurts. It's hard to concentrate. My stomach gnaws at me. Everything feels tedious and time feels like it takes forever. I want nothing more than for the sun to go down right now. I said a rosary and it felt boring to me. It bugs me that I have to wait about three hours from now before I can break fast. On top of it, I really have to focus on homework. At the same time, I don't want people to see grouchy, hungry Katie. I want them to see a happy Katie, one who genuinely is trying to become a better person.

That's when I realized that this is the point. The whole point of fasting is that it's painful and challenging. The challenge is, are you going to master your hunger? Or, will you let it master you instead? Will you give in to the temptation to snack? Or will you hold out just a bit longer, saying a prayer for strength and focusing your mind on other things?

People may think I'm crazy for doing something that seems so extreme, even in the eyes of other devout, practicing Catholics I know. On the other hand, is it really that crazy? We live in a society where people are slaves to their desires. People overeat, drink too much, have promiscuous sex, consume houses, cars, shoes and other things they can't even afford, and they forget about other people. We don't even know whether the people who make our products earn a living wage, the people we sleep with are looking for something deeper, or whether the food we eat is even beneficial to our bodies. And the thing is, we don't even care. It's all about us.

To me, it's especially poignant because my career goals all have to do with ending poverty and fighting for human rights. How can I fight for justice and work to end those things that enslave others when I can't even free myself? How can I work for change in this world when I can't even change myself.

Fasting does not automatically make you a better person. Rather, it's the attitude that brings it out. If you can beat the obstacles of fasting, you can fight other urges that are much more destructive. If you can take it as a time to slow down and clear your mind of all that isn't necessary at that moment, you will be able to think clearly when it counts, when you are already nourished. If you can take it as a time to be grateful for food, especially when so many of the world go hungry, you'll be more sympathetic to the plight of those who have little.

Fasting is not fun. It's not sexy. It's not that glorious. Yet I find it to be a necessary ingredient to our humanity. Even if you cannot fast from food, you can fast from something else (Facebook, chocolate, sex, etc). It's hard to resist temptations. At the same time, becoming masters of those temptations is how we become better people.

What would it look like if everyone fasted for one day? What would it look like if we not only fasted from material things, but also fasted from our negative actions? What would humanity look like if we did that?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I talk a lot. Women, when we're together, will DEFINITELY talk a lot. We'll talk about all kinds of things but one thing I notice we talk about is our relationships. Our friendships, our romantic companions/spouses, kids (if applicable), our work relationships, we discuss everything. It IS good in a sense, to be able to talk about our lives and share ideas about how to surprise loved ones and how to navigate difficult relationships. However, one positive act of this can become quite negative. Ladies and gentlemen, let's talk about venting.

Venting should be a healthy way to expel negative emotions. We need to be able to talk about bad things in our lives so that we don't turn everything inward and become self-destructive. We need to have close friends, people we trust, to be able to do it. However, I've noticed, with myself and with others, that our venting can become destructive. With our words, we have the power to tear someone down and completely vilify them in a way that does not suit their offense. I'm not talking about domestic violence issues (btw, if that applies to you, PLEASE tell). I'm talking about how someone you care about does something that pisses you off and, even before you bring it up with them, you tell all your friends. Naturally, knowing you and having loyalties, your friends will take your side. Then, you end up patching things up with the person but your friends have this picture of him or her as the bad guy.

How we think of people influences how we treat them. Supposing your friend or partner is not a bad person but, like we all do, just pissed you off in one instant, it isn't fair to him or her to have people they may not even know judging them harshly simply because you didn't feel the need to tell THEM you had a problem with them before you told all your friends. In my faith, under the sin of lying, we also consider it a sin to disclose the faults of others without grave reason (such as an abusive situation). Also, if these are the people we love, why are we tearing them down behind their backs? Isn't love about building other people up, for better or for worse?

I say this because I've learned how destructive I can be with my own words. Physical wounds can heal without memories of pain. Words, however, can wound for life. The worst injuries we receive are the ones we cannot see. Let's use our words to bring about positive change and take some negative energy out of this world!

Ash Wednesday

Today marks the beginning of Lent, of 40 days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, to remind us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, resisting temptation. The conclusion of Lent will come with Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week, when we remember Jesus' Last Supper, death, and Resurrection. Today, however, you will see many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, receiving ashes. There is a bit of irony in this. You see, we receive ashes to show that we have sinned, to remind us of our fallen state, and to encourage us to grow in faith. Yet even non-practicing Christians will show up in droves to church to get their ashes. Of course, I am not supposed to judge but it does puzzle me a bit. It's almost a mark of pride when it should be a mark of humility.

For Catholics, we are required to fast, allowing only for one full meal with maybe two small snacks if anything else. Other than that, we are only allowed water and the meal we do have cannot have meat in it (fish is OK). Of course, there are exceptions, like you are only required if you are between 18 and 59 and in good health. Pregnant and nursing women are exempt. In our faith, which is huge on solidarity, the idea is to pray for those who are hungry and to take the money you would have spent on your own food to pay for a hungry person's meal.

For me, fasting is a difficult exercise. Blessed with a high metabolism and Italian relatives and neighbors who always tell me I'm too skinny and need to eat more, I go crazy when I can't even have a snack. To top it off, I've always ended up working on Ash Wednesday and working at restaurant does surround one with temptation. However, after living in Kenya and working with energetic children (many of whom only had one full meal and a meager breakfast, usually only because their school provided it), I find a need to connect with my brothers and sisters who don't have enough. For me, it's not only a spiritual purification (one that encourages me to smile through the pain and offer my hunger to God, to help me avoid sin), it's an exercise in solidarity as well as self-control.

We are a society that believes in instant gratification and justifies selfishness. What would it look like if we took a day to deny ourselves? And, in that act of denying ourselves, chose to smile through it and reach out to other people? What would it look like if the entire world did it? After all, doesn't it start with us on some level?

One of my friends in Kenya goes hungry. Every day, she struggles on a dollar a day to take care of two children (one hers and the other, an adopted nephew) after leaving an abusive husband. Despite this, she also took me in one night when it was too late to go home safely. She always fed me an abundance of food each time I went to her house. Though I have not her contact information, I still carry her kindness. Is it too much to ask me to go without for one day and give what I would have had to someone who goes without for life? And is it too much to ask me to not complain but to give with a smile?

Peace be with you all, of all faiths. And strength to those who fast today!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Politics scare me.............

So, in the past week, I have learned that the GOP is at it again, this time with bills that could ultimately prevent young people from voting and could give women the death penalty for having miscarriages or procuring abortions. While these are local bills (one in New Hampshire, the other in Georgia), these really scare me. As a woman and as a youth, I'm starting to see my rights rolled back, piece by piece.

First of all, I may be young and not completely financially independent, but does that mean I should lose my right to suffrage? Does this mean I, who have lobbied my Congressman, who have paid my rent, who's lived overseas, should not have ANY political standing whatsoever? What about MY rights, about issues that affect me? Like, financial aid from the government, the draft, my right to participate in my government, my right to own a weapon, my right to have a good time with my friends, hell, my right to marry or move out? What about the fact that I could still be tried as an adult, regardless of whether or not I'm considered one? So, you want to use my boys for service and would consider me old enough to put to death, but you don't want us to have any say in it?

Second, the death penalty? For losing a baby? Rep Franklin, you outta your freakin' mind? Or did you miss school the day they handed out sensitivity? Miscarriages are NOT FUN for women. By the way, neither are abortions. We KNOW it's a baby. It's a painful, difficult decision that most of us hope to NEVER have to make. Do you think it's fun for women (mostly young) to feel like they're not only having a particularly bad period but to know that they're losing a baby in the process? Or, if that baby was very much wanted, to know that they won't survive through birth and, by the way, their own lives/health are on the line? Or, if they already have a child, to struggle between keeping this one or being able to bring up the other child with a shot of escaping poverty? Or to relive memories of a rape all over again? So, you would condemn women to death because we lost a child? Or felt our hands were tied behind our backs? Really? Do you hate women, Rep Franklin?

Young people have fought and DIED for freedom, certainly here and certainly elsewhere. Women all over this country and throughout the world take on most of the burden to keep societies going. Why, oh, WHY does my country, the very nation that cries, "Freedom!" hold us in such contempt?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Boy Advice.........

It may seem funny that I start giving advice to my single friends (usually to stay single) right AFTER I end up in a relationship. However, looking back over the last month (!), I have been able to understand why, after nearly four years of relative singlehood, I finally feel comfortable in a relationship. For me, I needed those years of being single to honestly analyze my values, explore my talents, develop my friendships, and take travel/academic/career opportunities. I needed that time to learn to be comfortable by myself, to understand that it's only by following my God and learning what I can give to the world that can make me happy.

For many (heterosexual) girls I know, that isn't the case. I've seen so many end up in long term relationships that end up stuck in dead ends, but have been in them so long they're so afraid of leaving. I have friends I've known for years and can name one partner for each year. I have friends who date guys they KNOW aren't good for them but because the guy knows how to smooth talk them to death. I have friends who give up opportunities like studying abroad because they're afraid of leaving said boy. Really, ladies?

You see, when I first came to college, I was just getting out of a relationship. It was long distance, long term, with little communication and nothing other than a FB declaration to prove that we were together. Really, it was time to get out but I still was hurt. At the time, I was a very naive freshman, may have been book smart but definitely not street smart. Luckily, I had older friends who were willing to show me the way. On top of that, they helped me when I realized I had some emotional trauma I needed to deal with. To put it lightly, freshman year, especially spring semester, was a tough year for me and I lost a lot of confidence in myself, academically (burnt out of a premed program) and otherwise. That would NOT have been the time to enter into a new relationship. I would have dragged the poor schmuck down with me.

Sophomore year, I started rebuilding. I got my first job. I earned all A's and found the major that was truly right for me. I started looking for internships and had a really successful one. I spent a week in Cherokee Nation. I got an even better job and was able to move off campus summer before junior year. Junior year, I took up a minor in economics and started considering study abroad. Senior year, with the help of those who love me and a ton of work, I went to Kenya. Within that time, I learned how to stand up for myself, developed lasting friendships, and went on some amazing adventures. And this fall, I'm going to AR for Americorps, to tutor children and youth.

Why do I point this out? Because, senior year, I also finally entered into a relationship with someone who shares my values, is good to me, and encourages my dreams, even if it means we have to be apart from each other this fall. I was able to enter into this, because I now have confidence and strength I did not have four years ago. I was able to bring happiness into a relationship. We also have been willing to discuss difficult things, things couples usually neglect to talk about, for fear of driving the other away (even if it means a discussion of values). It's still very new to me, but, regardless of what happens, I know I won't break. Even if we don't make it, I know I won't lose myself in the process. And, if we do, well, I waited for someone good and that's all that matters.

There is a lot of value in finding yourself first. Love isn't a game. It's a choice and a willingness to die for someone if need be. You have to be strong and whole to make that choice. After all, wouldn't you want someone to do likewise for you?

Friday, March 4, 2011


We teach our kids that they can be anything they want to be. We encourage them to go far in school, to take every opportunity and to conquer the world. We teach them that they're brilliant, special, and that they deserve so many things. But do we teach them to make adult decisions?

You see, we send kids off to college, with the expectations that they will figure things out. But is that the right way? What would it look like if, instead, we had kids truly explore different career options, brought in trade school representatives and brought in real networks for gap year programs (instead of just paying lip service), and honestly validated any career aspirations they might have? Why not give them an idea of what their futures could look like, rather than pouring expectations down their throat, expecting them to "find themselves?" Why not give them the ability to decide whether or not academia is truly for them rather than attach those futures to our checkbooks and their lack of financial independence?

With that, why don't we encourage kids to start commandeering their own finances? Why not encourage them to start their own lemonade stands, dog walking services, and do extra chores for that iPhone? Why not encourage them, when they're older, to take that CPR class so they can babysit or really push them to get a summer job as soon as they're old enough. With that, why don't we teach them how to budget and save and allow them to make their own mistakes with money (provided nothing illegal or immoral)? Why don't we give our children the message that they can control their own futures with their pocket books and give them the tools to be responsible for themselves?

Why don't we encourage kids to own their own faith, instead handing them religious coloring books and promising it's "all over" after their Confirmation or Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Why don't we encourage them to ask questions and have serious conversations with them about the various scriptures we read? Why don't we encourage their curiosity about God, rather than freak out about their supposed asceticism? Why don't we give them practical applications for faith, such as opportunities to serve other people, to lead a community, to take their work seriously, and to build lasting relationships? Why don't we encourage them to question, at least so they can gain a deeper understanding or be honest with themselves (and God) about what they believe?

And, while I'm thinking of it, why don't we teach kids to take control of romantic relationships? Why don't we encourage them to see behind their companions lovely eyes and smile straight into the heart? Why don't we encourage them to honestly consider what they want in a partner, as they should consider their careers and general life directions? Why don't we encourage them to focus on becoming the person they want to be, rather than the person a supposed significant other would want them to be? And why don't we encourage them to consider serious decisions such as marriage and family when they themselves are ready (whether that be early twenties or late thirties), rather than when they've got their first child's college fund already saved?

A twenty-two year old adult should be able to function as an adult. By this point, we're above the age of majority and probably have made our own mistakes. Even if we can't see the next 80-odd years crystal clearly, we should be able to stand on our own, make responsible choices and take control of our futures. We may be young but that should not equal powerless. We also have strength, vigor, and intelligence. If we can take care of ourselves, we can take care of the world. Let's go after it.

Real Men

What is a real man? I'll tell you, he's not a macho stud-muffin who gets his way by aggression and domination. A real man doesn't consider women trophies, on a par with fancy new cars and big houses. A real man doesn't terrorize other men, simply because they also do not meet the same standard of manhood and masculinity (whether by personality or sexual preference). A real man doesn't treat the vulnerable as obstacles to his success.

OK, Katie, what is a real man? What does one do?

A real man is assertive without being aggressive. He understands that aggression is only meant for life threatening situations, not because the restaurant doesn't have plastic bags.

A real man genuinely listens to others and tries to contribute to society in positive ways.

A real man is secure in who he is and doesn't need a list of sexual partners to prove himself.

A real man is attentive to his companion and does not pressure them into anything that makes them uncomfortable.

A real man would rather die than lead his beloved into harm (physical or spiritual).

A real man is generous and humble and does not consider certain tasks as beneath him.

A real man seeks truth and goodness and constantly considers the consequences of his actions.

A real man believes there is such a thing as fidelity.

A real man sees women as sisters and friends, not commodities.

A real man encourages the people in his life to go after their talents, regardless of gendered expectations.

A real man knows that strength is for healing and protecting, not hurting. He also knows that women can be strong, physically and otherwise.

A real man looks at the heart more than the face.

A real man has integrity and stands his ground for what he believes in.

And if you tell me to my face that one doesn't exist, I'm gonna tell you you're dead wrong. Because I have one. So there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why the emphasis on "commodity" dating?

Our society is so commodity based it's not even funny. We've been encouraged to treat values, relationships and important life decisions as if we're picking a new pair of shoes. It's to the point where people don't even know what's right anymore, rather, we always second-guess ourselves and don't want to make commitments to anything. The sad thing is, it carries over into our romantic lives in a huge way. Your SO is almost an accessory and, when they stop making you look good and feel good, it's time to find another. Of course, we even tell young people, "Don't settle for this one. Shop around." Shop around? Really? How does that prepare you for the rest of your life?

It doesn't.

First, most of us hope for monogamous marriages. Part of being in a monogamous marriage includes forsaking all others. So the idea of "looking for someone better" in terms of dating doesn't really help much. It doesn't prepare you to love one person, regardless of their flaws, regardless of how you fail each other (of course, excluding huge sins of adultery or abuse), regardless of whether or not you constantly have butterflies in your stomach. Dressing up for every single encounter doesn't prepare you for each other when you are sick, tired, grouchy, when your hair is a mess and all you want to do is wear sweats, curl up in a corner and die. Constantly covering up important values because you're so concerned with impressing the other person doesn't prepare you for those much needed talks on finances, children, in-laws, and sex. Constant dating may give you something to do. It won't bring you intimacy.

Second, because we're told to constantly date, yet not get married until we've saved for retirement (HA HA HA!!!! In this economy), I've seen so many girl friends get caught up in a cycle of serious boyfriend after serious boyfriend. They don't even know who they are by themselves. Rather than think honestly about what they would want from a husband as they would about a career or educational opportunity, they willingly let others sweep them off their feet and define their worth by whomever is on their arm. I mean, it's one thing to date because you think there is something deep but it doesn't work. It's quite another to have had a serious boyfriend every year from before you even started your college applications. If you're that insecure about yourself, how can you trust your ability to truly love someone (for better or for worse) until one of you dies?

Honestly, if you want a lifelong companion, that involves carefully considering the traits you would want in a spouse. That does not include looks, the size of their bank account, or the ability to knock your socks off with every single kiss. That includes traits of integrity and character, a sharing of values, compatible personalities, and a willingness to fight for each other so long as God wills you together. And they usually come when you're not seeking. People are gifts, not objects. Perhaps more marriages would be successful if people realized this.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Traditional Morals, Liberal Politics

I am known among friends as the traditional Catholic. I do attend Mass every Sunday and holy day, I pray, I consider my faith a huge priority in my life, and find it does drive me to be better. This also carries into my romantic life, as I still have not engaged in sexual contact and have become more firm in my belief to wait till marriage (though there were questions and are still struggles). At the same time, politically, I am pretty liberal when it comes to issues of gay marriage and abortion rights. To some, this may seem a huge contradiction and others may even question my validity as a Catholic (of course for those, I was baptized and confirmed a Catholic so I am one till I die, regardless of any sin I commit). So, why the contradiction?

Let me start out by saying that my morals are a choice. That's right. I chose them. No one, certainly not any man, influenced my choice (in fact, my male relatives think I'm too conservative!). And let me say, it's a hard one. Now that I do have a companion, I do understand why people don't wait, but it is out of respect for him (as he and I are on the same page) and myself that I wait. I do encourage others in this, as it takes a lot of strength. But, because it requires strength, I have to understand that not everyone agrees. Especially as I live in a country where people are of different faiths and no faith, I do not believe I can impose my moral choices on someone else. As for the sexuality angle, I have questioned my own extensively and knew how difficult that was. To be honest, I'd rather that two consenting adults commit to each other and run their own families than encourage a culture of promiscuity among all, heterosexual or not. I think sexuality is more of a cultural thing and would find it not only intrusive but dangerous if Congress started legislating our bedrooms (except for needed consent laws).

Now, for the abortion issue, it's been well established that I do not like abortion. I think it is a tragedy but I also understand that most women are not running to the clinic in happiness, getting abortions as they do haircuts. Most are very torn, especially because we all KNOW it's a baby. At the same time, there are many circumstances surrounding it and, as our government and economy fail to recognize that maybe fairer policies toward mothers (you know, paid maternity leave and daycare benefits) could actually help those falling through the cracks, it's no wonder women may need to buy some time. Do I think these women, who are desperate to NOT be pregnant, should be throwing themselves down stairs, perforating their cervices, or taking harmful drugs? No, but that's what does happen when it's illegal. After living in Kenya and learning what happens to women in a country where it is illegal, I could never again believe it should be illegal. If I don't believe in a death penalty, why would I institute one? While I do believe we need to make changes, a lot of them will take a long time. I don't believe we should see the deaths of countless women and girls in the meantime.

I believe that God alone judges human beings for their actions. While there are certain aspects of morality the government should legislate on (not just to prevent corruption, murder, and theft, but to ensure people can make a living and have their freedoms protected), these are not those aspects. I would hate to see my country become a theocracy. I want people to love God on their own, not because the alternative is death or social ostracism. Further, I believe there are other moral problems (like corporate strangleholds and environmental degradation) that all of us of all faiths and no faiths can conquer. Let's direct our fire to making a true change in our society.