I have had writer’s block for over a month now. With so much going on in the world, I was having a bit of a sensory overload, and was not able to fully put into words all that has been currently on my mind.
I guess I could have easily written about something fitting for the time of Easter, Mother’s Day, or Earth Day… but my heart just wasn’t into it.
Now, in order to make some sense of the otherwise piece-meal, rambling thoughts, I would like to focus the content of this post on an excerpt from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, and its relation to the April and May holidays of awareness and gratitude: Earth Day, Arbor Day, May Day/International Workers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, and Memorial Day.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776
One of the hottest debates in the media today is concerning the war on women. It seems almost every day there is an article about women’s earnings, rights, or exposure to violence. Although there are many other issues surrounding equality and religion, sexual orientation, race, and so on- for this belated Mothers’ Day tribute, I will focus on women’s equality.
While there are many people who whole-heartedly believe there is a war on women, many others believe it to be an over-hyped media ploy. Whatever you personally believe, I hope you will agree with me that there is one thing everyone should agree upon: Women in all parts of the world should be treated as equals, with the respect and gratitude they deserve.
Although women’s rights have come a long way, all over the world, we still have far to go. Even in the United States, women earn anywhere from 61-91% of what their male-counterpart earns on an annual basis. What’s even more shocking though, is that although these statistics have been published by our own U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, many people are ignorant to this fact.
It is with this knowledge; I ask that each and every one of you spend some time today, tomorrow, and every day to give thanks and gratitude to the women in your life. All women, in every occupation, but especially your own mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, aunts, godmothers, and teachers; these women deserve gratitude for their efforts to better our society.
For more useful sites on women’s rights, please visit:
- The UN Works: http://www.un.org/works/sub4.asp?lang=en&id=11
- The Strong Families Movement: http://strongfamiliesmovement.org/mamas-day-2012
- The National Organization for Women: http://www.now.org/organization/info.html
- The American Association of University Women: http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/simpletruthaboutpaygap1.pdf
Although I am about a month late for the traditional nature-related holidays, Arbor Day and Earth Day should not be the only days throughout the year that we show concern for non-human life on Earth.
What can you do for Mother Earth to increase awareness and show gratitude on a daily basis?
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” -Albert Einstein
Looking for a simple way for you to make a difference to our local environment? Reduce or stop using plastic bags!
“The average person uses 360 single-use plastic bags per year and less than 5% of them are recycled. Even when properly disposed of, light durable plastic bags are easily blown by the wind where they can enter the oceans through storm drains or in coastal communities, blow directly into the ocean. Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources, and much of it is very harmful to wildlife, who mistake it for food or become entangled in it. Approximately 100,000 marine mammals and one million sea birds die each year from ingesting or getting tangled in plastic marine debris. Besides the environmental hazard they create, plastic bags cost taxpayers and businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in litter cleanup costs, sewage and water systems maintenance, and recycling machinery shut downs.” http://galveston.surfrider.org/?page_id=333
All Galveston grocery stores now offer reusable bags that can be purchased at check-out for a dollar or two- you can keep them stored in your car or pantry for when you go grocery shopping. Or, if you are like me, and find yourself going grocery shopping without your stash of reusable bags, you can procure your own foldable reusable bags from places like Oasis Juice Bar, many of the downtown novelty shops, or even Office Depot (I carry 2 in my purse at all times!)
Do you own your property or on good terms with your landlord here in Galveston? One thing you can do is plant trees.
GalvestonTrees.com is a locally-owned company, committed to the replanting and reforestation of our island home!
GalvestonTrees.com specializes in Live Oak trees; however, we are positioned to supply a wide variety of tree species including additional varieties of oaks, Bald Cypress, Cedar Elms, and palm tree varieties.
GalvestonTrees.com provides trees directly from our own nurseries which offers a significant cost savings to our buyers. In addition, we ensure that top quality, healthy trees are delivered and proper care instructions are provided for our new tress to take root in our island. In addition, GalvestonTrees.com also provides dead tree removal, stump grinding and complete landscape services. http://galvestontrees.com/
Finally, with summer coming up, and our history with droughts, we could all use some helpful tips on watching our water usage.
- Don’t let the water run needlessly when washing dishes, shaving, or brushing your teeth.
- Take shorter showers… keeping showers less than 5 minutes can save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
- Plug the bathtub before turning the water on, and then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up. The shallower, the better.
- Fix leaky faucets: Just one drip a second can waste 2,000 gallons of water per year.
- If practical, try to run the dishwasher or washing machine only when completely full.
- If you live in an older home, consider replacing your plumbing with low-flow fixtures and low-flush toilets.
- Water your lawn only when necessary and consider landscaping with native plants adaptable to your climate’s conditions.
- Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water to use to water plants later. This also works when washing dishes or vegetables in the sink.
- Place water collection vessels such as barrels or large buckets to collect rain water from down spouts and gutters. Use the water to water your plants.
- Use the garbage disposal minimally and compost instead.
- Check every faucet and toilet for leaks. Even a slow leak can waste a lot of water each day. 80% of all leaks occur in faulty commodes.
- Don’t use the toilet for flushing tissues, gum wrappers or any other small scraps. It shouldn’t be used as a trash can.
- Be careful to water the lawn — not the sidewalk, driveway or street.
- Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Partial loads waste water, electricity and money.
- Use a broom to clean the driveway — not water from a hose.
- Use a bucket of water for washing the car. Then use the hose to rinse it.
- Keep a jug of drinking water in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to run the faucet until the water cools.
- Free toilet leak detectors are available for customers in The Water District office.
For more useful sites on the importance of ‘going green’, please visit:
- 10 Easiest Ways to Go Green: http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/latest/green-tips-10-easiest
- The United Nations Environment Program: http://www.unep.org/
- The Environmental Protection Agency: http://epa.gov/
- The Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org/
- The Sierra Club: http://sierraclub.org/
While I have always had a mindset of peace, my ideas of how exactly to bring about peace have evolved.
I spent much of high school and college whole-heartedly believing in the military-industrial complex. I went from protesting the war in high school, to rallying for peace in Darfur my early college years. It was a real wake-up call when I realized that peace was a lot more complex than I had ever thought.
While I wish non-violent protests solved everything, it has to be said that genocide, torture, slavery, trafficking… as much as I wish it did, none of these atrocities can be ended with peace talks and protesting.
Sometimes force has to be used for the greater good.
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” -Thomas Paine
So it is with this, in the spirit of Memorial Day, that I say thank you to the men and women who help make our world a safer place. I hope that one day we will not need soldiers and police men and women, but until that day comes- thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for everything!
For more useful sites on establishing peace and paying respects to fallen officers and soldiers, please visit:
- Officer Down Memorial Page: http://www.odmp.org/
- Military Times: Honoring Fallen Soldiers: http://militarytimes.com/valor/
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
- Veterans for Peace: http://www.veteransforpeace.org/
- Stand Now: http://www.standnow.org/
- United Nations: Peace: http://www.un.org/en/peace/
- United Nations: Human Rights: http://www.un.org/en/rights/
Pursuit of Happiness
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. “ -Martin Luther King, Jr.
During May, we celebrated International Workers’ Day and Secretary’s Day. At schools all over the country, there was also Teacher Appreciation Week.
While a day, week, or even month of awareness is an amazing thing; I think it is important to remember to show gratitude as often as possible to the many millions of workers that keep our country running while pursuing the American Dream.
So, in no particular order, and leaving out an innumerable amount of people, I would like to give thanks.
Thank you to the workers of Galveston! Thank you to those who work for the City, the firefighters and policemen who protect and serve. Thank you to the Parks Board, those that clean up our streets and plant flowers and trees to beautify our fair city. Thank you to the hardworking men at Noah’s Service Center that have always been there to get me out of a jam. Thank you to the teachers, cafeteria workers, and crossing guards at our Galveston schools, who inspire our kids and keep them safe. Thank you to the waitstaff, busboys, and cooks at The Oasis Juice Bar, ShyKatz, Mosquito Café, Gino’s, Café Michael Burger, and all my other favorite island restaurants. Thank you to our administrative assistant and the custodial workers that put up with my chaotic clutter on a daily basis. Thank you to the doctors and nurses at the urgent care clinics, 4Cs, and UTMB for helping keep me and my friends and family healthy. Thank you to the clerks and cashiers at Krogers, Randalls, and Arlands, for making grocery shopping a positive experience. Thank you to the workers in Galveston’s hospitality industry; always welcoming, with a smile on your face. Thank you to all the workers of Galveston; too many to list in entirety… and thank you, thank you, thank you to the workers of the world!
For more useful sites on workers and unions, please visit:
- American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations: http://www.aflcio.org/Issues
- The United Nations Works: http://www.un.org/works/sub4.asp?lang=en&id=5