Category Archives: Warning… Philosophy/Politics

What is Love?

What is Love?

LoveIs_Diff LoveIs_Goofy LoveIs_WhereUWantToBe

Hopefully this time of year is filled with love. However most of our families aren’t perfect and we have occasional squabbles especially with the stress of the season and getting to deal with each other more. But my goal and challenge for you (my family or whoever is reading) is that we exercise greater love towards our family in the coming year!

So what is love? There is romantic love, love for a friend or sibling, and a parent’s love.

The Greeks had 4 words for love:
- Agape is unconditional love. It is love by “choice” even if you are not pleased. A good example is “God loves us with our faults.” It is the word used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
- Philia is affectionate regard, friendship, usually between equals.
- Storge is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
- Eros is passionate or romantic love.

But I think all of the following sayings can apply to most types of love. My favorite saying about love (found in the 10 commandments for marriage ;) is:
- “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

A good one I heard in a relationship seminar was:
- “Love is about investing in another person and is for the betterment of another person.”

When I turned to google, the source of all knowledge ;) (jk lol), some sayings that came up were:
- “Love is being your strange self all the time and have someone love you for that.”

- “The definition of love, is when you can recognize that you care about a person as much as you care about yourself.”

- “Love is selflessness.”

If we turn to the scriptures, we see they have much to say about love – that it is a commandment, to love even our enemies:
- “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy, But I say unto you, Love your enemies.” Matt 5:43-44

- “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyselfMatt 22:39 &Love one another; as I have loved you” John 13:34.

And that God’s love is unconditional, universal, and intrinsic to his nature:
- “God is love.” 1 John 4:8

- “Perfect love casteth out fear1 John 4:18

- “There was no contention because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” 4 Ne 1:15

- “Charity is the pure love of Christ” Moro. 7:47

And finally my favorite scripture:
- “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7

How do you define love? I’d love ;) to hear!

And what should love not be?

Love is not selfish. Love is not fear. Love is not unkind (or gossipy or backbiting or name-calling). Love is not controlling. And love should not be conditional.

Someday I hope to have children, and I imagine there is almost nothing my children could do that could change my love for them. I’m sure they could do things that would make me sad but it couldn’t make me love them less. If anything it would make me worry about them and show my love even more to them. And I love my current family – Ben (the best hubby ever! ;), my parents, sister, step-dad & step-brothers, in-laws, cousins, aunts & uncles, and grandparents. And of course there are friends who you love like family :). And I can’t imagine my love for them ever changing. I’m not saying we should be walked over, and there may occasionally be an unhealthy relationship that we need to step back from. But I’ve found often when people are upset (at least myself) what they really just want to hear is that you still love them.

So this year let us show a greater abundance of love. Let’s be more patient and more kind. Let’s put aside our differences and find our common ground. (Or have a debate if you like that kind of thing like me ;). Let’s not pick at each other’s faults.

Who is with me?

 

 

 

Raising Happy Kids

I wrote a post a long time ago on the role of parenthood, and I’ve probably changed my mind on some details (and might change my mind some more before I’m ever a parent lol), but I still like the parenting objective I stated: “Put your child on the path to become their best self and become an independent responsible adult.” Of course you can’t control your child’s life choices or behavior in the long term, but I think the ideal outcome would be for your child to become a good person and happy adult.

I read an article called “7 Strategies to Help Raise Happy Kids” today and thought it had some really good ideas (plus you know I like the number 7… ;). Really you should just read the article, but the main points are below. And even if you aren’t a parent they are some good tips for just being a happy person :-).

Seven Strategies to Help Raise Happy Kids

1) Get Happy Yourself
I guess actions speak louder than words!

2) Encourage Play
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” (why couldn’t they make that proverb rhyme?!?).  Playtime, espectially “open-ended play,” helps them “develop their physical skills, learn to cooperate, and exercise their imagination”…and helps “prepare them for situations beyond what they are currently in.”

3) Teach them to Build Relationships
For most of us, positive relationships are necessary for happiness whether they be friends or family.

4) Teach Optimism

5) Teach Emotional Intelligence and Self-Discipline
“Kendra Cherry, author of Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition), defines emotional intelligence as “… the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.” It’s being aware of your emotions and managing them to fit the needs of every situation. This is an important skill that our children need to learn; it’s not something that they’re just born with.”

6) Encourage Effort for Mastery
“Expecting perfection is nonsensical, and if we place that expectation on our kids, then they’re being set up for failure. According to Carter, ‘Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high level of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.’ ”  However, “encouraging effort teaches kids that they can always do something to improve their lives, which is something to be happy about.” …”With mastery comes confidence, leadership skills, initiative, and an enduring desire for hard work.”

7) Form Happiness Habits
“Some happiness habits (and are not limited to) practicing gratitude, celebrating every achievement (both big and small), acknowledging effort, exemplifying a healthy sense of humor, and allowing them to learn from their own mistakes.”

 

10 “Commandments” for Marriage

My sister just celebrated her 1 year marriage anniversary and Ben & I are celebrating our 5th anniversary Friday! I’m so grateful for such an awesome husband and have loved all of our adventures of the last 5 years!  I put the following advice together when my sister got married (I know I think I have a problem with unsolicited advice ;). What is your advice for a good marriage and good relationships? I’d love to hear!

10 Commandments/Advice for Marriage
By Teyanna Munyan

1)       Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it meanly. Content communicate – don’t make your spouse guess, if you want a romantic date for your birthday just say so. Don’t be sarcastic or hurtful, once something is said it is not easily forgotten.

2)       “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” It is your job to look out for each other and help each other be happy. You now need to maximize your joint happiness not just your individual happiness. If you are maximizing your joint happiness, your spouse’s happiness matters as much as your own.

3)       Plan ahead together. Many stressful situations can be avoided by planning together. Plan so you both know when that vacation is you need to take work off for, the weeknight date you planned, when the home teachers or in-laws are coming over, how much that major purchase cost and how it will be paid for, when you are having children, etc.

4)       Manage money so your money doesn’t manage you. A) Make it a priority to have a $1000+ emergency fund. B) When you plan your monthly budget, make sure you each get an allowance – money you can spend however you want – be it 1% of your income, $10, or whatever you can afford. C) Pay yourself each month – ie save and invest so that your money makes money for you so that one day you will be financially free. “Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” –Dave Ramsey, http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-steps/

5)       Never talk bad about or complain about your spouse to others. Never.

6)       Support your spouse. If they had a bad day, try to cheer them up. If they need to work really hard for a while to accomplish a goal, try and do more housework to give them extra time and space. If someone talks bad about them, stick up for them.

7)       Always be honest. Unless you are planning a surprise ;-) .

8)       Show your spouse you love them in various ways. Say I love you often. Kiss often. Write notes/letters for each other. Do acts of service. Give gifts. Talk. Compliment and say thank you. Find out your spouse’s “love language”, but it doesn’t hurt to do them all.

9)       It’s okay to go to bed angry. Sometimes it’s good to take a timeout or get some sleep before you talk about an issue. Being hungry or tired can make you more emotional. Just make sure you take care of the issue after the timeout or after some sleep.

10)   Love is work. Make sure you work for your marriage every day.

Funerals and Family

In April, I attended my second funeral.

My first funeral was 6 years ago, in Mexico for my Grandpa Memmott or Abuelito — my mother’s father. Some funerals are tragic – you grieve the death of someone who left before their time, before they got a chance to live a full life, someone who left things undone. I have known a few people that died young and I wish I would have made it to their funerals. One in particular was my high school math teacher – she was only in her twenties and died in a rock climbing accident in the middle of my junior year. My junior high/high school was very small and she was my math teacher for 4 years starting in 7th grade for algebra and died in the middle of my junior year as my calculus teacher. She was a great person and role model and our whole school grieved her death – the loss of a great teacher and the loss of a great person before she really had a chance to live a full life.

However, other deaths are not as tragic. When death comes in old age, after someone has lived a long and good life, when they have a chance to say good-bye to those they love, it is sad but not tragic. This was my Abuelito’s funeral. His wife, 8 children, and 20 plus grandchildren and other family & friends, came together to celebrate a good man’s life. He was in his eighties and many had had a chance to say good-bye before he passed. We were sad that he was gone and he wasn’t perfect, but he was good. He had lived a long life and had been a part of our lives. At the funeral, we had the opportunity to reminisce and hear stories about Abuelo. When my parents got divorced I was nine and my Grandma & Grandpa Memmott lived with us for a couple years. My Abuelito read me & my sister scriptures in the morning and would walk us to the bus stop. He also taught me how to mow the lawn and helped me and my sister and cousins build a tree house and club house. So, while the funeral had tears and sadness, it also was a celebration of a good man that had lived a long life and touched our lives for the better. Isn’t that what we all want?

Last month, I attended my second funeral. This was for Ben’s grandpa – his Grandpa Munyan, and was my first time meeting any of Ben’s extended family. Like my Abuelo, Grandpa Munyan was also in his 80s and from what I know he was also not perfect but a good man. It was a quiet military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, as he served in the Army for many years and fought in Korea. Like my Abuelo, he seemed to have lived a full life but I still felt sorrow. Not like my teacher, for the life she missed – because he lived a long full life. Not like my Abuelo, for missing him being gone – because I never met him. Sorrow for a missed opportunity. I grieved never getting to meet or getting to know an interesting man. Ben hadn’t seen him in 18 years. He grew up less than an hour away and he grieved not seeing his Grandpa and hearing his stories as a kid & teenager. For the last 4.5 years, we had lived an hour away and had sent Christmas cards and meant to find out his phone number and plan a visit … but it never happened. Life got too busy and it felt intimidating to be the one to reach out. We grieved a missed opportunity. An opportunity to learn about and from a good man. An opportunity to get to know a part of Ben’s history.

On the bright side, we met many interesting family members whom we had never met or hadn’t seen in years. It was a time to hear a few stories about Grandpa Munyan and make some new connections.

As Anne of Green Gables says, “Life is too short to hold grudges.” Life is amazing and there are some wonderful people in it. Let’s not waste time and energy being angry and judging. Let’s not make mountains out of molehills. Let’s move past our differences and find our common ground. We don’t have to agree on everything, we can agree to disagree. We can respect each other and be there for each other. We will make mistakes and hurt each others feeling but we can make amends and move on.

Personally I love family. I loved growing up with my cousins and being best friends with my sister and cousin my age. Uncles and aunts who tease and help you out. Grandparents who share their life’s wisdom. We don’t all agree on everything, but family is about being there for each other, loving each other, and helping each other. I hope my funeral is a long way away, but when it comes I hope I qualify as family to many people. I hope I’ve loved, helped, and been there for people. I hope I’ve touched a few lives for the better.

Here’s to living life to the fullest and enjoying every day! Cheers!

~Teyanna Desiree

 

 

What do I believe?

So as some of you know, Ben and I have been researching and rethinking our religious beliefs this past year. I know this brings some of our family and friends sadness and fear and for that we are sorry. However I feel everyone has their own spiritual journey to make and their own life to live, and that to get the most out of life (and to give the most) you need to be authentic and true to yourself.

Anyways, while reading another blog, I was inspired to make a list of things I believe in(and Ben says he agrees with all of them). The list is not exhaustive but I feel almost anyone can agree with them:

  • I believe in doing the right thing in the face of opposition, I call that integrity and courage.
  • I  believe in getting back up after being knocked down.
  • I believe in doing hard things.
  • I believe in honesty.
  • I believe in tolerance.
  • I believe in looking for the good in others.
  • I believe in forgiveness.
  • I believe in kindness.
  • I believe in charity.
  • I believe in serving others.
  • I believe in family.
  • I believe in unconditional love.
  • I believe in inspiration.
  • I believe in research.
  • I believe in faith.
  • I believe in reason.
  • I believe the dinosaurs existed.
  • I believe in logic.
  • I believe in feelings (and I realize that everyone has a right to how they feel, no one can define what goes on inside another person, you can only ask and try to understand)
  • I believe in humor.
  • I believe in the golden rule. I think the world would be better with people following just one commandment, ‘be nice.’
  • I believe in open and honest debate.
  • I believe in effort and persistence.
  • I believe that what we call holy writ and many other books have great ideas and concepts that are good ways to live, I just do not accept them as always being infallible and historically accurate.
  • I believe that mythology has its place in our lives and can help many people deal with tough times and handle loss and pain.
  • I believe in truth. True actions and true words.
  • I believe in friends.
  • I believe in being open and honest about why you feel the way you do with others.
  • I believe that you shouldn’t avoid the issue where you conflict with a person you love. You should face it and work it out. Doing otherwise will only breed resentment and distance you from that person.
  • I believe the scientific process is a valid way to progress in knowledge and truth and is far more reliable than any other method the human race has tried.
  • I believe you should do the best you can with the time you have on this world to find joy and help others do the same. I believe in being your best self.
  • I believe that we as the human race can become something transcendental someday. I hope to live long enough to take part in it. If not, well I hope I did my part so that future generations have that chance.
  • I believe being a decent person has it’s own merits whether there is a reward in next life for doing so or not.
  • I believe in being Christlike.
  • I believe that anyway you slice it, grand creator or not, we are very lucky to be here right now. So enjoy it, do right by it, and don’t blow it.
  • I believe that atheists can be just as moral as any religious person I know.
  • I believe in hopes and dreams and in the pursuit of them.

** Inspired and somewhat copied from http://churchofthefridge.com/blog/2013/10/14/what-do-you-believe-now/

If you are wondering what our questions/issues are with the LDS church, I recommend this video by an active LDS member, John Dehlin. It is called “Top 5 Myths & Truths about Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church”. He did a survey to over 3,000 inactive members to see why/how they left. He goes over his findings of why members leave and the top “myths” and then he gives resources for dealing with family members/friends who are dealing with questions. Our issues/questions pretty much align with everything he found as the main reasons people have issues with the church. It also might be useful to LDS members who are in leadership or are parents as your children and those you lead might have similar issues/questions. If you do not have questions bothering you about the church and are not interested in all the details, I recommend the General Conference talk below, instead of the video.
5 Myths & Truths of Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church

Everyone deals with religion differently. Some are blessed with faith and questions & doubt never bother them. Some have questions but are able to make the church work for them. Some see their church as an imperfect but good organization and work from within to make it better and use it as a tool to help others. And some choose to no longer attend and no longer have the church be an active part in their lives. I love and recommend this talk from the October 2013 General Conference by Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf, particularly the quote below:

“One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”

Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.

Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.

In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.”

I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the video or your thoughts on the post in general!

Books of 2013

I’ve had fun going to two different book clubs this year. Still should be reading a bit more but I’d thought I’d share the books I’ve read the year or so. What good books did you read this last year? Any favorites or must reads? I’d love to hear! (hit reply at the top of the post ;). Also, I discovered GoodReads which is cool website to keep track of what you & your friends are reading, want to read, and have already read.

Favorite book of the year:

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
I loved this book! It is a novel telling the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob & Leah in the Old Testament. It takes the little that we know of her, and gives us a beautiful story. I love the idea that our stories need to be told and how sad it is that we have very few stories of women in the bible and history. I loved the sisterhood in the book and and hearing their stories of midwifery, birth, and motherhood. However it also shows the sad & horrible side of a sexist culture, or any culture where a group is marginalized. I definitely recommend it! (It does have some sexual content, but given that Jacob had 4 wives and the nature of Dinah’s bible story it’s kind of expected.)

NonFiction reads:

Your Money or Your Live: Strong Medicine for America’s Health Care System by David Cutler
A short, but in decently in-depth book about America’s health care system by a Harvard Economist. Not too long or too technical and takes a good look at how the system works & some of the issues and offers some broad solutions, without being politically charged. I really liked it.

Outliers: Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Very interesting book with lots of anecdotes. It was really easy to read and had some really good points. I plan on reading his other books sometime.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
The author is dying and writes his life’s lessons to his kids and the world. Some of it is a little cliche but an easy read and lots of good thoughts. If you liked Tuesday’s with Morrie you will like this book. It’s amazing how much he accomplished in his life. It shows how important it is to dream and then work hard towards your dreams. “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”

The One Thing by Gary Keller (co-founder of Keller Williams Realty)
Good book – lots of good ideas & tools to accomplish your goals. Lots of them I’d heard before or were a little cliche but overall it is a good read and inspired me to improve. The main theme is to make time and prioritise for your “one thing”. This is especially applicable for business owners, researchers, & students (ie if your job is very self motivated & self structured, but if your job is a receptionist it might be hard to apply to your job). But it can be applied to anything you are passionate about… and let’s face it we should be passionate about something. He even has some good questions to help you find your “one thing” or passion if you haven’t found it yet. He had some great quotes that were inspiring.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
A memoir of the author’s life, primarily of her childhood, but it reads more like a novel than a biography. Thought provoking, and makes you think in a new way about poverty, breaking the poverty cycle, self-sufficiency, mental illness, education, etc.

Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History by Milton Friedman
Good book. Not too long but sometimes a bit technical/dry. Learned about the gold&silver standard in the US and learned a bit more about inflation & money. The island of Yap with their stone money was really interesting and the helicopter inflation analogy was good. I wish it had an epilogue by another author that ties in the last 20 years to the book. I thought he might have been a tad too harsh on central bankers.  Quotes I liked from the last chapter:
–   “It is natural for individuals to generalize from their personal experience, to believe that what is true for them is true for the community. I believe that that confusion is at the bottom of most widely held economic fallacies – whether about money… or about other economic or social phenomena.”
–  “It is a disagreeable custom to which one is too easily led by the harshness of the discussions, to assume evil intentions. It is necessary to be gracious as to intentions; one should believe them good, and apparently they are; but we do not have to be gracious at all to inconsistent logic or to absurd reasoning. Bad logicians have committed more involuntary crimes than bad men have done intentionally.~Pierre S. du Pont”

Fiction Books:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A classic future distopia book. I felt like I didn’t connect with it well but it was a great jumping-off point for thought-provoking dialogue.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling
Detective book —  good page turner, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. It does have some bad language in it, so perhaps for an older audience than Harry Potter.

Cutting for Stone* by Abraham Verghese
Very good book! I was surprised I handled the medical/surgery descriptions so well. Great page-turner and poetic & profound at times. It made me learn a little more empathy for those in hard situations, and I learned a little bit about the hard life many face in Ethiopia. It’s cool how the end comes together even if it is rather tragic, although some complain that the ending feels too contrived. My favorite quotes:
–  “‘Seize the day! What matters is this moment!’ Most of us can’t go back and make restitution. We can’t do a thing about our should haves and our could haves. But a lucky few men like Ghosh never have such worries; there was no restitution he needed to make; no moment he failed to seize. Now and then Ghosh would grin & wink at me across the room. He was teaching me how to die, just as he taught me to live.”
–  “The key to your happiness is to…own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. [Otherwise] you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”

The God of Small Things* by Arundhati Roy
Good book – a novel about a family in India and the tragic events that occur and change their lives. It touches on the period’s sexism — how women who are not able to get an education often ended up in bad marriages and situations, how it is acceptable for men to sleep around with women of lower classes/castes but not vice-a-versa, etc. It touches on Marxism and the inequality in the caste system and how the different generations deal with the changing times. It deals with the “Laws of Love” – “who can love who and how much.” Pros: interesting topics, setting, and writing style; cons: very tragic & heavy content (death, love scene at the end, a child is molested in the middle), which some readers may not like and may not be inappropriate for young readers.

~Teyanna

*main characters in the last 2 books are twins

 

The best of times, the worst of times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” Tale of Two Cities p. 1

Is today the best of times or the worst of times? Are we progressing to a brighter future or are we going directly the “other way”? Often I hear laments of the social and moral decay of the modern world in the recent decades so I wanted to celebrate the good things.

I think most of us can appreciate the technical and medical advancements, improvements, and inventions over the last century. Life expectancy has doubled, many horrible diseases have been eradicated from developed countries, inventions like washing machines, cars, ac, etc make life MUCH more comfortable, we can video chat with family & friends across the world, and with a cell phone we can research and learn pretty much anything from anywhere. Comfort and health has vastly increased and the world is at our fingertips.

And I feel the we have also made many advances socially and morally, but I’ve often heard, particularly at church, how things are getting worse and worse (morally & culturally) over the last 50-100 years – immorality, violence, drugs, porn, etc are increasing and the “last days” are nearing (particularly with the developed world in mind). So I wanted to share why I think “the world” is an amazing place and is getting better and better:

 -          Women can now vote, have access to contraception (did you know The Pill was not legal in all of the US until 1972!?!), go to college, and hold practically any job they want. Huge pros! Maybe we have a few slightly neglected children because women choose to not be stay-at-home moms, but women now have career options besides prostitution and low-paying jobs that can’t provide for a family. (And I know many wonderful moms who work.) I’m not saying women should not be stay-at-home moms (that is still an option), but women now have more choices. Women can choose when and how many children they want. If women want to go to medical school, law school, or work in a variety of places, they can. If a woman is a single parent and needs to provide for her family it is possible.

 -          Civil rights movement. Big pro! It is no longer acceptable to be racist. We even have an African-American president! You may not like his politics but for America that is amazing considering the prevailing attitudes and policies just a few decades ago. I’m not saying the issue is completely solved, but we have made big improvements over the last 100 years.

 -          Acceptance of various lifestyles. Non-married/teen moms are no longer completely shunned by society (think Les Mis) and can live a respectable life. Gays and lesbians can (hopefully) live without fear of being fired or mistreated because of their sexual orientation. Woman do not stay in abusive marriages as much because the social stigma of divorce is not nearly as strong. People shouldn’t have to hide who they are to be accepted by society. And I’m sure hiding who you are is not healthy for anyone (it didn’t really work out well for Fantine in Les Mis). Of course there are, what some consider, costs to being more accepting and giving people more agency – we have more children born out of wedlock, higher divorce rates, and variations of families that some do not approve of, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. People need agency and I think people are happier and better off. It is okay if we have a higher divorce rate if it means people aren’t stuck in bad marriages. It is better to love and accept everyone and make them feel like they can be a part of society without hiding who they are, even if there are more variations in the traditional family unit (single parents, stay-at-home dads, non-married couples, gays, & lesbians, etc.).

 -          Violence. I’m not an expert on the trend in violent crimes over the last hundred years and I’m not a fan of violent video games. However, I googled murder rates in the US and it looks like they were pretty low in the 1960s (= 4.6 per 100,000 in 1963), increased through the 80s (equaled 10.2 in 1980), and then came back down. In 2011, the murder rate was 4.8 per 100,000 people, which is fairly low considering the low since 1900 was 4 per 100,000 in 1957. So from looking at US murder rates, it seems violence is on a downward trend over the last 30 years. However they are still a bit high compared to some other developed countries.

 We live in an awesome world! There are so many opportunities especially if you live somewhere like America. And overall it seems to me that America is a better place than 100 years ago. Besides the higher standards of living and comforts of washers/dryers/cars/etc and improved medical treatments, I feel the morality of society have improved as well.

I feel that over the past century equality has improved immensely — and by equality I mean equal rights and opportunity. Women know have many opportunities that were previously denied — voting, going to college, contraception, and job opportunities. Civil rights demands that no one should be denied opportunity due to race, color of skin, or country of your ancestors origin. Being accepting of various lifestyles (single moms, working moms, stay-at-home dads, gays & lesbians, non-married couples, etc) allows everyone the pursuit of happiness. America was founded to protect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and the only reason someone’s rights should be taken from them is if they are infringing on the rights of someone else (ie a murderer). A lot has been done in the last century to further establish a land of freedom and equal opportunity. Now this may mean that some people make choices that you disagree with but I think it’s worth it.

What do you think?