Too Many People Are Hurting Due To A Lack Of Acceptance From Much Of Society.

   Hey there folks. I’d like to talk about something that’s very important which many people don’t realize. The fact is that there are a great number of LGBTQ people who are hurting, isolated, and alone because too many members of the Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities don’t fully accept us. And this needs to change. It’s the 21st century for crying out loud.
   Who am I talking about you may wonder. It’s actually a lot more people than you may think. Bisexual+, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Nonbinary, Transgender, Asexual, Intersex, and others (BTIA+ for short) often feel like we’re not fully accepted by most of society so that far too often, we end up very isolated and alone.
   Many people fear, and even ostracize, individuals whom they see as too different. Often, they assume the worst. That somehow we must be confused and untrustworthy. Or that we’re just plain too weird. The result is that they don’t fully accept us.
   The consequences are that too many BTIA+ people end up feeling like we don’t belong anywhere and that people don’t want us. It makes finding true friends incredibly difficult and often dating becomes virtually impossible, despite the fact that we can be just as faithful and monogamous as anyone else and that we want love too. Unfortunately, too many of us are having to face the brutal reality that we are probably going to be alone for the rest of our lives.
   Things need to change.
   The Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities as a whole need to open their minds and their hearts. BTIA+ people deserve acceptance and a chance. Don’t automatically reject us because of who we are. Try to open your minds and get to know us. We also enjoy the same interests and activities that you do, whether it’s movies, TV shows, and art or good food, travel, and the outdoors. Plus, diversity should be celebrated, not feared.
   We are people too.
   We have hopes and dreams.
   We want to have happy productive lives like everyone else.
   All we are asking for is a chance.
   If everyone strove to be kind, considerate, tolerant, open-minded, and accepting, imagine how wonderful and magical the world could be for everyone.

Loneliness Is Much More Common Than Many People Realize Or Want To Admit

  Loneliness is tough and much more common the most people realize. It can be painful, exhausting, heartbreaking, and potentially devastating, especially when we let it consume us. At times, it can feel hopeless, overwhelming, and has the potential to increase the risk of mental and physical health problems.
   Anyone is susceptible, from individuals with lots of people around them to others who are physically isolated.  All ages, genders, sexualities, races… No one is immune.
   Kinda scary isn’t it.
   I know all about loneliness because I’ve been living with it for many years. I understand the pain and challenges. Seeing other people have significant others and numerous close friends while I’m on my own.
   As to why loneliness occurs, that is complicated and varies from person to person with numerous factors potentially coming into play. Physical isolation, lack of common interests, being different from people in one’s environment, depression, social anxiety, shyness, and low interpersonal communication skills are a few examples.
   Age can play a role as well. Studies have shown that for most individuals over 30, the number of friends they have decreases. This is probably connected to people getting into long-term relationships, starting families, dealing with careers, and so on. As a result, some of the friendships they had from before drift away. As to the established friendships that continue, there may be changes such as not seeing each other quite as often because for many individuals, their significant others and families have become their main source of social interaction. The result is that most people over 30 aren’t particularly looking for new friends. From their perspective, they’re too busy or don’t need them. So for individuals who are lonely and searching for new friends, finding them becomes even more difficult.
   Loneliness can be terribly challenging to deal with, but we should work hard at not letting it consume us. We must learn to control it, not let it control us.
   Believe in yourself, even at the most difficult moments. Remember that you can rely on yourself no matter what. I know, it can be brutal at times, but never give up on you.
   Stay open to the possibility of connecting with someone because after being hurt so much and so often, it can be easy to automatically shut people out to try to protect ourselves from further disappointments, letdowns, rejections, and crushed hopes. The problem with shutting people out is that it can also isolate us even more and prevent us from establishing contact and potential relationships with others. 
   So be open to meeting people. Don’t automatically rule out letting them in. If they hurt you, don’t let it bring you down. I know it can be frustrating and terribly painful, especially when you don’t have any close friends and attempts to find one seem to keep failing. Still, metaphorically speaking: Get back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward.
   Another thing is to try to find happiness in yourself. There is truth to the idea of love and have faith in yourself.
   Believe in you! Doing so will help make life more enjoyable and also increase the possibility of perhaps connecting with others. And if you don’t find someone to connect with anytime soon, you’ll still have you!
   Do things you enjoy, even if you are doing them on your own. Use your imagination because there, you can experience, explore, and do whatever you want.
   And don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. There is absolutely no shame in doing so, and it may help you cope with your circumstances a whole lot better.
   And please, never give up!
   Remember that you can always rely on yourself and be your own best friend!

Why Is There So Much Prejudice Against The LGBTQ Community? Why?

   Why is there still so much prejudice against the LGBTQ (Queer) Community?
   Why?
   LGBTQ people have been around for the entire history of humanity, and LGBTQ behavior is also seen in other animal species.
   So where did all this prejudice and hate come from?
   The answer isn’t simple.
   Numerous factors are involved in creating intolerance and prejudice because I don’t think people are born that way.
    Lack of understanding is a big one. Many people don’t understand what it means to be LGBTQ. They don’t know the challenges and pain many LGBTQs face on a regular basis. They don’t seem to grasp that being Queer is part of who a person is and cannot just be switched off (and shouldn’t be switched off). There is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ. Being LGBTQ can and should be a wonderful thing.
   Now, add on influences from people, organizations, schools, churches, leaders, family, and friends. If many of those  surrounding influences are prejudiced themselves, that can affect a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, especially if the individual already has a lack of understanding about the LGBTQ Community. Think about it. Imagine an individual who doesn’t really understand the LGBTQ Community and may have some insecurities and misconceptions about the subject. Now, picture a scenario where many of the important people in this person’s life don’t get the Queer Community either and often make derogatory jokes at the expense of LGBTQs. This often encourages and can worsen the individual’s intolerant views and behaviors.
   Something else to keep in mind is how intolerance and prejudice can be insidious so that individuals frequently don’t recognize that they are prejudiced themselves. Of course, there are other people who know they themselves are but have so much hate that they don’t care. Either way, they are harming innocent people.
   Such hurt can manifest in many ways. It can occur when people make fun of someone just because that person is LGBTQ. Or when an organization refuses to help because those in need are Queer.  Another example is how many people categorically refuse to date someone they would be interested in otherwise just because that person is LGBTQ (Bisexual+, Non-binary, and Transgender individuals are frequently the victims of this).
   In early 2020, Tennessee signed into law new regulations that allow religious based adoption agencies to automatically reject prospective parents just because they are LGBTQ.  This is legalized discrimination. And now there are multiple “don’t say gay” laws as well as other legislation targeting the Transgender Community being pushed in states around the country.
   All this prejudice against the LGBTQ Community needs to change.
   Everyone should take a good hard look at themselves, their views, and the factors driving those views. All should educate themselves to better understand other people, including those who are different.
  It’s the 21st Century! Time for people to open their minds and let go of the intolerance and prejudice pervading society these days.
  It’s time…

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/most-lgbtq-americans-experience-harassment-discrimination-harvard-study-finds-n823876 https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/12/19/anti-lgbt-discrimination-has-huge-human-toll-research-proves-it/ https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-bisexuals-shut-out-of-the-lgbt-club

The True Story Of A Brave Dog In The Civil War, Sallie Ann Jarrett

   I’m going to tell you a story…
   A true story about a dog named Sallie Ann Jarrett.
   But we have to go back in time. The year is 1861. A Union regiment, the 11th Pennsylvania, had recently been organized and was training for the American Civil War.
   Being early in the conflict, local civilians would come out to watch the new soldiers march, drill, and train. Once such individual was an attractive, young woman named Sallie Ann. As you can imagine, the soldiers liked it when Sallie Ann stopped by.
   Well, one day, someone arrived with a basket. Inside the basket was a little, female pit bull puppy who was presented to the regiment as a gift.
   The soldiers named her Sallie Ann Jarrett after the popular young woman they liked and their original commanding officer, Colonel Phaon Jarrett.
   Little Sallie Ann was quite popular with the troops with her playful exuberance. Early on she would wind her way through the soldiers as they marched, but then she learned to join the commanding officer at the head of the column.
   In 1862, the regiment, under the command of Colonel Richard Coulter, headed south to join the war for real.
   And Sallie Ann went with them.
   The 11th Pennsylvania saw its first action at Cedar Mountain. As the muskets fired and bullets flew, Sallie Ann stayed at the front with her soldiers, for the 11th was her family. She apparently tried to bite Confederate bullets when they struck the ground.
   She saw more fighting. At the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war, the soldiers tried to get her to stay behind, but Sallie Ann refused and remained with her regiment.
   She gave birth to puppies, who were sent north to families, but Sallie Ann continued on with the 11th.
   When the Army of the Potomac marched before President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, Sallie Ann was in her place at the head of her unit.
   In July of that year, large Union and Confederate armies ran into each other at Gettysburg, resulting in a brutal three day battle. The 11th Pennsylvania saw action on the first day, during which they suffered a number of killed and wounded. When Union forces retreated back through town to regroup on Cemetery Ridge, Sallie Ann got separated from the regiment. As the bloody battle raged for 2 more days, no one knew what had happened to her. Considering there were 51,000 casualties, many probably feared the worst.
   After the fighting ended, Union soldiers explored the devastated battlefield. When they arrived at the site where the 11th had fought on the first day, they found Sallie Ann.
   After getting separated, she had returned and stayed vigil over the dead and wounded members of her family, soldiers of the 11th Pennsylvania.
   In 1864, Sallie Ann was shot at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse; though, she fortunately recovered.
   Then in February of 1865, Sallie Ann was sadly killed in action. Reportedly, several mourning soldiers buried her while the battle still raged. Finally, later that year, the terrible Civil War came to an end.
   Years passed by.
   In 1890, a monument was erected at Gettysburg honoring the 11th Pennsylvania. Veterans had demanded that Sallie Ann Jarrett be honored too.
   They got their wish.
   The monument consists of a Union soldier standing on top of a pedestal. On the front of the pedestal near the base, is the statue of a curled up dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett.
   In 1910, there was a reunion of surviving members of the regiment. They had their photograph taken with the monument behind them. If you look at the picture closely, you’ll notice 3 veterans are standing off to the right creating a gap. They did this so that Sallie Ann would be in the photo too, for if you zoom in, you can see the profile of her statue on the monument in the gap.
   So if you visit the Gettysburg Battlefield, stop by the monument and honor the brave little dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett.

1910 Reunion courtesy of emergingcivilwar.com
Memorial to the 11th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg
Photo of Sallie Ann Jarrett courtesy of emergingcivilwar.com
Someone left dog biscuits for Sallie Ann.

Pride Is Here

6-1-22
   Well Pride has arrived. A time for LGBTQ+ people to be proud and celebrate who we are. Many cities and communities have a variety of celebrations, although the COVID pandemic has changed some of how it is celebrated. In normal times, there are festivals, parades, declarations by local governments, and so on. Rainbow flags as well as the flags of a variety of LGBTQ+ groups are more prevalent, and on social media, LGBTQ+ people will say Happy Pride and put various LGBTQ+ symbols and colors on their profiles. For many, it’s a time to be proud who they are, to celebrate, and help spread the word and educate others.
   But for many LGBTQ+ individuals, Pride is not so happy. It can be a tough time for quite a few people. The reasons for this are quite varied. There are many LGBTQ+ still suffering in the closet, surrounded by prejudiced family members, coworkers, and others who create such a toxic environment that the LGBTQ+ person is too afraid to come out. There are others who have suffered personal setbacks or tragedies that have tarnished their feelings about Pride. In addition to these are numerous LGBTQ+ people who don’t feel much sense of community because of intolerance and lack of understanding coming from too many members of the straight and gay / lesbian communities. Examples of people who often feel this way are those who are bi+ (bisexual, pansexual, fluid), genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and intersex. Too many of us feel like we don’t really belong anywhere. And I said “us” on purpose because I’m bi+ and genderfluid myself.
   So for a variety of reasons, Pride can be a difficult time for many LGBTQ+ people. So, to those for whom Pride is an amazing time, try to be considerate and understanding of those for whom this month is difficult. Take a moment to educate yourself and learn about the reasons why some people are hurting right now. Perhaps open your mind a little bit with regards to those who are bi+, genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and so on.
   And to those for whom Pride is not so happy, be strong and hang in there. It’s okay. I understand because Pride is a difficult time for me as well. Believe in yourself and never give up.
   Remember:
   Believe in yourself and never give up!

The Soldier of Ancient Herculaneum: Was He a Hero?

   Let’s go back in time.
   It’s August 24th, 79 CE, and the place is an Ancient Roman town called Herculaneum which along with Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale, and Pompeii sat below the large, powerful Mount Vesuvius. Thing is, there was a secret that the Ancient Romans likely had no idea of: Mount Vesuvius was a volcano. It had been dormant for centuries, so the inhabitants of the region wouldn’t have realized the potential danger that the mountain posed.
   Early that morning, people of the town would have gotten up and gone about their lives working, preparing food, going to the market, and so on. Though some may have been a little nervous about things because multiple earthquake tremors had shaken the area over the previous several days, and considering how there was still damage from a large earthquake that had struck in 62 CE, some concern wouldn’t have been a surprise. Still, they would not have realized the catastrophic horror that was a just hours away.
   It appears that a cloud of gas and ash began coming out of the mountain sometime during the morning. Around midday to early afternoon, the eruption got really violent as it explosively spewed large amounts ash and pumice miles into the sky.
   Shock and fear must have gripped everyone, for none of them had ever seen such a thing. Ash and pumice started falling to the ground southeast, east, and south of the volcano due to wind direction. While Oplontis, Pompeii, Boscoreale, and Stabiae were being hit by the ash and pumice due to their locations, Herculaneum was likely spared much of that since it was to the west of the mountain. But seeing the gigantic cloud of ash being spewed miles into the sky, the inhabitants of the town seemed to have done what they could to flee. Since it was a community on the water, most probably made their way to waterfront to try to get on a boat to make their escape.
   For years, archaeologists wondered if everyone from Herculaneum had possibly escaped because they weren’t finding any skeletons (whereas quite a few were being found in Pompeii). But in the 1980s, that changed. Around 300 to 350 skeletons were discovered at the site of Herculaneum’s ancient waterfront. The vast majority were inside boat sheds where they had been huddling for shelter, but a few were in front of the sheds on what would have been the ancient beach.
   The question arose: who were these people, and why had they been left behind?
   As research into the skeletons went on, something was being noticed, and this was that the vast had few to no possessions. The reason for this is that in all likelihood, most were slaves and the very poor. The Ancient Roman world was a pretty class conscious society so that it would not be a surprise that those considered to be the bottom of society (slaves and the extremely poor) would have been the last to be evacuated, and since there was probably not enough room on the boats to get everyone out, they would have been the ones most likely to be left behind.
   While the significant majority of skeletons were likely of slaves and the very poor, there were a few exceptions like one of a woman wearing jewelry. But the most notable stand out was the skeleton of a Roman soldier.
   Who was this individual, and why was he there?
   Examination of the skeleton and artifacts found with it have revealed quite a lot considering it’s been over 1900 years. First, the skeleton is that of someone who was physically male, around 40-45 years of age, and was found face down on what would have been the ancient beach in front of the boat sheds of Herculaneum’s waterfront. There is evidence of arthritis in a number of his joints, and many of his lower teeth were missing. At least some of the teeth in question had probably been knocked at some point in the past since the bone there had healed. He had on a leather belt, a military sword, a dagger, a pouch of coins, and a bag of tools. The military equipment (like the scabbards and belt) had decorations which look to have been quite elaborate and included some silver and gold.
   So the question arises: who was this man and how did he end up left behind on the waterfront? There are multiple theories.
   Herculaneum was not known to have had a large military presence or bases as far as experts understand. The town had a population of probably around 4000 to 5000. Being on the water, there would have people who made their living fishing in addition to others working in various jobs such as running thermopolia (fast food type places), bath houses, brothels, and so on. It was also likely a resort town for the rich who had villas there so that in addition to fishing and merchant boats being present on the waterfront, there would have been pleasure craft as well. Knowing this, one wonders about why the soldier was there.
   Just because there wasn’t a military base present, doesn’t mean there weren’t some soldiers stationed in the coastal town for one reason or another. Since he had a bag of tools, perhaps he was there helping rebuild damage from the 62 CE earthquake. Or considering how it was a resort town, the soldier may have been there delivering a message to an important official or something similar. Also remember that his military equipment was very well decorated, and as a result, we can’t rule out the possibility that perhaps he was there for pleasure.
   Another question is what kind of soldier was he? Considering that his military equipment appears to have been cutting edge for the time, he was likely an active member of either the Army or Navy, and since it was well decorated, he may have been an officer or member of an elite unit. One of the decorative designs on his sword’s scabbard seems to show an oval shield. This has made some researchers wonder if he could have been a member of the Praetorian Guard (the elite unit designated to protect the Roman Emperor) because they had oval shields at the time. Also, the amount of money he had on him seems to correspond with 1 month’s pay for a Praetorian Guard. While being a member of this elite unit is a possibility, the design in question and money amount he had don’t automatically mean that he was. Another theory speculates that he might have part of the Roman Navy (having a bag of tools would go along with this idea too).
   Across the Bay was a Roman naval base at Misenum. The commander there, Pliny the Elder, was curious about what was going on when he saw the cloud above the mountain. He was going to take a galley out to investigate but then received a message from a friend begging for help. He quickly took action and ordered naval ships to go across the Bay on a rescue mission. According to 2 letters written by his 17 year old nephew, Pliny the Younger, they went to Stabiae, and while there, Pliny the Elder died. It should be noted that in Pliny the Younger’s account, nothing is said about naval ships or personnel going to Herculaneum or Pompeii. But seeing that we are relying on just 2 letters written by a young man who was in Misenum the entire time, it is possible that a contingent of Roman naval ships did head to Herculaneum. Another option would be if the Roman soldier (or sailor) made his way from Stabiae to Herculaneum by land. The problem with this idea is that such a land journey would have been extremely difficult and dangerous considering how ash and pumice was falling and accumulating on the ground for a significant part of the route.
   Whether he was a member of the Roman Army or Navy, I’m going to continue referring to him as a soldier. He found himself at the waterfront during this terrible disaster. Seeing that he was a soldier (and considering his fine military equipment, probably an officer), people would have looked to him for guidance and leadership. So unless he arrived after all the boats were gone, he probably helped in trying to evacuate the population, and since there’s a good chance that he was an officer, he likely had a leadership role in the endeavor.
   So why did he die on the beach?
   While we can’t say with total certainty, there is a good chance he was helping organize the evacuation using any available boats and ships. But considering the size of the population, there almost certainly was not enough room for everyone. Seeing that the Ancient Roman world was often class conscious, it’s no surprise that slaves and the very poor would have been the last to get a spot if available.  When the final boat set off, 300-350 people (most likely being slaves and the very poor) were left behind. So unless the soldier arrived too late, he either decided to stay behind with them voluntarily, accidentally got stuck there in the confusion, or was ordered to stay put.
   It’s safe to say we’ll never know for sure why he was on the beach when the end came, but if he did decide to stay behind voluntarily, that would speak well of him considering that most of those with him were very likely people who would have been considered the bottom of Roman society.
   Late that night (probably around Midnight to 1 am), a deadly pyroclastic flow of super hot gas and volcanic debris surged down the mountain at rapid speed and engulfed the entire town. When it struct the waterfront, everyone present would have died very quickly. Mount Vesuvius continued its eruption into the next day (August 25th) with several more pyroclastic flows occurring. When things finally ended, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and the other nearby communities had been buried.
   And as to our Roman soldier, we’ll never be able to say with total certainty the exact circumstances that led him to be on the that beach when the end came. Did he accidentally get stuck on the beach in all the confusion, or was he ordered to stay behind due to a lack of space on the boats? Perhaps. But I can’t help but hope instead that at the end, he was a decent person who rose to the occasion, and when the last space in the last boat was needed to be filled, that he decided to put someone else on board opting to stay behind himself with the others even though the majority of them were slaves and the poor.

Some of the boat sheds at Herculaneum’s ancient waterfront. Courtesy of Photo 242056221 / Herculaneum Skeletons © pedro pereira | Dreamstime.com
Some of the skeletons in one of the boat sheds. Courtesy of Unsplash.
Some of the boat sheds of Herculaneum’s waterfront
Some of the boat sheds of Herculaneum’s waterfront

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/vesuvius-victim-identified-elite-soldier-attempting-rescue-mission-180977734/

https://www.britannica.com/place/Herculaneum

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/vesuvius-erupts

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/2-000-year-old-skeleton-identified-senior-roman-soldier-vesuvius-n1267056

https://www.livescience.com/soldier-skeleton-mount-vesuvius-rescue-mission.html

https://www.history.co.uk/article/the-eruption-of-mount-vesuvius-in-79-ad-and-the-destruction-of-pompeii

https://www.britannica.com/place/Pompeii

Troubling Times

May 1, 2022
   Damn, things seem really frustrating, disheartening, confusing, and downright scary these days. On the international news front, we’re witnessing terrible, heart-wrenching examples of death, suffering, and carnage being wrought by Vladimir Putin’s vicious, bloody, unwarranted invasion of Ukraine.  On the domestic side here in the United States, bitter divisions in politics and society have gotten so bad that it often seems virtually impossible to get anything done. Despite it being the 21st century, we’re seeing far too much intolerance, prejudice, ignorance, and hate throughout the nation, and what’s even more disturbing is how many social conservatives are pushing for policies that actually worsen these problems.
   Think about it. In numerous states, there are social conservatives trying to pass laws that knowingly hurt the LGBTQ (Queer) Community, a community that was already suffering. A 2021 survey conducted by the Trevor Project of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth (ages 13 to 24) found that 42% had seriously considered suicide during the previous 12 months. That number rose to 52% for Transgender youth. Only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. Yet despite evidence such as this, numerous Republicans are working hard to pass laws that would clearly hurt Queer kids instead of helping them. And what’s worse is that these laws will almost certainly increase LGBTQ suicide rates.
   There’s also been a move by many conservative Republicans to make a big deal about critical race theory and wanting to ban it from being discussed in schools. Well for one thing, it’s clear most of these individuals don’t even know (or don’t care) what critical race theory actually is because it’s a theory that is dealt with at the post graduate education level and not K through 12. But it seems that many Republicans are using the attack on this term to go after general discussions about race relations in American history classes. This effort by conservatives is extremely dangerous because in order to learn from past mistakes, people need to look at American history honestly (warts and all), and that clearly has to include race relations. There’s a lot of truth to the old adage: those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The brutal reality is that racism and other forms of prejudice (like that which is aimed at the LGBTQ Community) are still widely prevalent today, and as a result, it’s that much more important to include honest, frank discussions about such issues in school.
   So the thing is: we need to speak up and educate others about what is going on and what we can do to try to make things better. People should stand up for open-mindedness, tolerance, and be honest about America’s history and current situation, not stick their heads in sand ignoring the problems. We should all strive to make things better.

Earth Is In Serious Trouble If We Don’t Make Major Changes. Period.

   Earth is amazing when you think about it. The Universe is such a vast place with countless stars, planets, solar systems, and galaxies. It’s incredible to think about how so many things had to come together just right in order for life as we know it to form and evolve on this world. If Earth had been a little closer to the Sun or a little farther out, it wouldn’t have happened.
   So it’s really unfathomable how human beings, who are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet, are in the process of destroying the only home we have.
   Why are we doing this? Why are human beings devastating this beautiful world?
   Humans get so caught up in their daily lives that they often become thoughtless and short-sighted. They seem to only think about what will improve their own personal lives, families, careers, friends, and so on. People often lose sight of the bigger picture. Many don’t think about how their actions impact the world around them and as a whole. Plus, there are also humans who knowingly damage the environment out of pure greed. They don’t care. Companies and individuals that have willfully and illegally dumped toxic waste into lakes and rivers are classic examples.
   Most of the time I would say it’s a combination of these various factors. There are plenty of people who don’t necessarily want to be hurtful and greedy, yet to varying degrees become so as they pursue what they want and what they feel they need.
   The thing is: there is overwhelming evidence that human activity is causing serious damage to the only home we have, Earth. Ecosystems are being lost and too many species of animals and plants are on the verge of extinction because of human activity. CO2 levels continue to rise which is leading to dangerous increases in global temperatures and changes in the Earth’s climate. This in turn leads to more frequent extreme weather events, droughts, wildfires, water shortages, and more. Many scientists are genuinely concerned that if things don’t change very soon, there will be mass extinctions of many species of animals and plants.
   We can’t keep doing this to the only home we have.
   We all need to make changes in our lives, big and small, in order to take better care of Earth. People need to start educating themselves and seeing the bigger picture of what is going on and what we need to do.
   If we start making better choices and working to make this a better world, in a hundred years, Earth could be a beautiful place where humans and nature have found a balance and live in harmony.
   But if we continue down the destructive path that we are headed, in a 100 years, Earth will be a place that is grossly overpopulated, badly polluted, and where countless species of plants and animals have gone extinct.
   It’s time for all of us to make changes so that in a hundred years, the former will hopefully be true and not the latter.
  

http://ocean.si.edu/through-time/ancient-seas/sea-level-rise

https://climate.nasa.gov/

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24021772

The United States And Guns

   The United States of America has a serious gun problem. One way or another, most people know this, although some are in denial and don’t want to believe it or admit it. But it’s true.
   Too many people are dying every single day tragically and needlessly because of gun violence.
   When the Constitution was created in the 18th century, it was a different time. There were no smartphones, communication was slow, the standing army was tiny, and many people lived in small rural communities or farms that were isolated and far away from help if something occurred. If you lived on a small farm in the 1700s, you couldn’t jump in the car and go to the grocery store. Small farmers frequently had to be much more self-reliant growing a significant amount of their own food and sometimes hunting for meat. Also if a criminal came to the farm, they couldn’t call 911. In many ways, they were on their own because it could take hours or longer to alert the authorities and get help. Something else to consider is that the muskets of the 18th century were much slower to reload and much less accurate than weapons today. Someone with significant practice could get off maybe three shots in a minute, give or take. In real world circumstances, it was likely often less than three a minute. And finally, the United States of the 18th century and early 19th centuries relied heavily on militias for defense because the standing army was tiny.
   In other words, the Second Amendment was written in another time when the circumstances were vastly different than today.
  It’s now the 21st century, and the United States has a large standing military, the National Guard, extensive police and law enforcement agencies, rapid communication, vehicles, planes, trains, grocery stores, and much deadlier guns. It’s definitely a different time.
   Let’s start by comparing assault rifles to muskets. A muzzleloading musket from the 18th century would take around 20 seconds to reload and fire if you were experienced, whereas a semi-automatic assault rifle can fire essentially as fast as your finger can squeeze on top of having high capacity clips. Realistically, someone could fire 60 rounds or more in a minute with a much higher degree of accuracy than the old muzzleloading muskets. The people who wrote the Second Amendment likely had no idea that assault rifles would ever exist or be in the hands of civilians.
   Now, let’s compare gun violence in the United States to that of other countries which have stricter gun control laws. First, death by firearms in 2017 per 100,000 people. According to the statistical site, Our World In Data, the United States rate was 4.63. The United Kingdom’s rate was 0.06, whereas Australia’s was 0.18. Germany’s was 0.1, and Japan’s was 0.03. Think about the vast difference between these countries and the United States.
   Now let’s look at the rate of death by interpersonal violence using any method in 2017 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate was 6.1. The UK’s was 0.5, and Australia’s was 1.4. Germany’s rate was 0.8 and Japan’s was 0.6. As you can see, the rates are multiple times lower than that of the United States.
   Take a look at these numbers. Look at the vast difference between United States and these other countries. The UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia have crime like the United States does. Their crime rates overall may be a little less than the United States in some cases, but not that much less.
   So let’s be honest about what’s going on. The major factor that explains the significant difference in murder rates is guns. The other countries listed here have much stricter gun control laws than the United States does. That’s the big difference. And if you compare these rates between the United States and other countries such as Belgium, France, and others, you will find similar results.
   It’s clear as day that the United States has a major gun problem and must enact stricter gun control laws. Gun violence in this country is just plain way out of control, and too many innocent people including children are dying every single day because of it.
   I’m not saying make all guns illegal. But there are practical, common sense gun control laws that would make a difference, especially in the long term. Ideas include banning assault style rifles from private ownership. No civilian needs an assault rifle. Assault rifles were created to kill human beings in times of war. That’s what they were designed for. Not for hunting animals or sport shooting. Restricting the size of clips is another practical idea that could save lives. Again, no one needs clips that hold 30 rounds of ammunition or more. Mandatory training and licensing would be a great idea. In order to drive a vehicle, you have to take a test and get a license, so why not do something similar for guns. Also, more extensive background checks would save a lot of lives as would tighter laws on proper storage of guns and ammunition when not in use. Too many kids die in tragic accidents when they grab their parents’ loaded gun that was sitting below the bed.
   By instituting laws like this nationwide, many lives would be saved, and law-abiding citizens who want to have a gun for hunting or similar would still be able to do so. As a matter of fact, many gun owners support gun control laws like this.
   So it’s definitely time to act. People need to stop automatically opposing gun control legislation ideas. Too many Americans are needlessly dying every single day. It’s time to enact better gun control laws.
   Future innocent lives are literally at stake.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-from-firearms

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rate

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom

African American Hero From The American Civil War

   William Carney was born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia in 1840. His father, William Sr, escaped North via the Underground Railroad and after working hard, was able to buy freedom for the rest of his family. They settled in Massachusetts where young William learned to read and write, planning on becoming a minister.
   However, in 1863, 23 year old William Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Black Regiment instead. He was now a soldier in the American Civil War.
   In July of that year, the 54th and other Union forces were gathered outside Charleston, South Carolina preparing to take part in the assault on Fort Wagner, one of the installations guarding Charleston Harbor.
   On the 18th, the 54th was taking cover behind sand dunes about 1000 yards from the fort. When nightfall arrived, the order was given.
   Advance.
   The 54th was leading the attack on Fort Wagner.
   After dressing their lines, the regiment moved across open ground under withering cannon and musket fire. Seeing the color bearer start to fall, Carney quickly dropped his gun and grabbed the flag moving to the front of the line. He and the 54th continued forward through a storm of bullets, cannonballs, and canister. Soldiers fell all around with terrible bloody wounds, but the regiment kept going with Carney at the front holding the American flag aloft.
   He crossed a ditch and clambered up the fort’s earthen wall. When Carney arrived at the top and looked around, he found himself surrounded by dead and wounded members of his battered, bloodied regiment.        
   At that moment, William Carney realized that in his area, he was the only one still standing.  
   Seeing Confederate forces advancing towards him, Carney worked his way back down the wall through the carnage and made it to the ditch that was now waist deep in water. Pausing there, he thought about his next course of action. As he rose up to get a better look around, William Carney was shot. A second bullet struck him shortly after. While Carney was painfully pushing his way towards friendly lines, he came upon a soldier from the 100th New York who asked if he was wounded. As Carney responded, a third bullet grazed his arm. The soldier came over to help him, offering to take the flag, but Carney wouldn’t let it go. Together the two men, one black and one white, struggled towards Union lines during which a fourth bullet grazed Carney’s head.
   When they made it back, he refused to give up the flag to anyone except another member of his regiment. Once they reached other survivors of the 54th, Carney said, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.”
   In 1900, William Carney was finally awarded The Medal of Honor.