The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! So I’ve heard it over and over. You need a blog. And, because I am, by nature, reclusive and strange, my response has always been ‘ick, no.’ But, lately I’ve been thinking about my life as a writer. See, my reclusiveness is at odds with my desire to share my stories. I want more readers and this year is set to be one of the biggest in my career, release wise and the blog thing has become almost a chant from every single person I talk to. So here we are. You sitting patiently, waiting for me to be brilliant and me sitting over here like ‘why are you looking at me like that?’

Yeah, blogging has never been my thing. I don’t go to parties, my taste in movies is downright weird, and even when it comes to books my recommendations are often odd. I could spend hours telling you how to write, but every single bit of advice is going to be meaningless once I give you the only thing you will ever really use. Which is: figure out what works for you. I could tell you what I do every single day. And none of it might work for you. One writer will tell you to write every single day and another will tell you they only write when they have a handle on the story. If you are a writer, this is your fight and the only way to be any good at it is to figure out what works for you.

So there I was, with this confusing muddle of ‘what could I possibly have to say’, cringing every single time someone told me to start a site with a blog, trying to figure out another way to find my readers. Then it hit me like a load of bricks (you know, the sort stamped with ‘how did I not think of that before’) dropping right on my head. I don’t teach writing classes and I’m not looking to start. There are so many people out there that are better for that job because my second piece of advice is ‘suck it up, Buttercup, and read the last paragraph’. I’m not the sort to coddle you through writer’s block because I’ve been there a thousand times and have come to know it for exactly what it is. Self pity and avoidance. Something is not right in Wonderland and you need to figure it out for yourself. And sitting online reading a thousand blogs will never, ever help you because it is your muse pouting silently in the corner and, like your last girlfriend, she’s waiting for you to say or do something to make her love you again. Hint: start by turning off your phone and logging off Facebook.

So why would I start a blog giving out my opinion on anything or trying to offer up advice other writers have already given a thousand times over in far kinder ways than I am capable of? I wouldn’t and that was where I so often ran up against a wall when the word ‘blog’ came up. What I would do, however, is tell stories. Because that is pretty much all I want to do, all the time, every single day. Not just my own stories either. See, when I was about ten, I became fascinated with two things. Ghosts and magic. In fact, I became so enamored with both that I read every single thing I could. I have read so much over so many years that I can tell you stories from Celtic Mythology and reel out the names of all the Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology just to turn around and give you a lecture on their Roman incarnations. Then I can tell you all about the most famous haunted houses and more than a few nobody else really knows about. Urban legends? Right here, baby. And, yes, I can give you a list of excellent books to read if you are into any of these things. What hit me, my dears, is the simple, inescapable fact that, until now, I’d never thought to attach to the idea of blogging what I practice in my stories. Write what you love.

I was that kid at Halloween that was watching the Garfield Halloween special on one channel and taping Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman on another. I was the kid in high school English that wrote a twenty page paper on the Pantheon of Greek Mythology (true story). I am that crazy person that wishes I’d gotten a letter from Hogwarts and still stubbornly insists that Santa Claus, in some form or another, does exist.

So here’s the deal. I won’t promise to be brilliant. Writing short has never been my strong suit. But I plan on sharing a number of things with you. I am going to be drawing on everything from my vast library of myths and legends, my knowledge of ghost stories, and my own short fiction, some of which will include short stories from my War For Inìsfail series and my own ghost stories. I am going to, on occasion, be lazy and tell you who else you ought to be reading (and that’s a list we’ll never get to the bottom of) and why. And, yes, this is all copyrighted. Please do not steal from me; I bite.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Be Not Afraid

The role of the writer is to say what we cannot. -Annis Nin

I’m paraphrasing here. I’m still wrapped up in book drama. But I’m here for a minute on this very short post to just point out a few things.

I am a fiction writer. But I’m not a liar. This means that, sometimes, I’m going to say things you don’t like. You are welcome to disagree. Debate. Bring an intelligent argument. Be prepared to accept that I am not just going to bow down and admit defeat. True warriors do not care about easy opponents. We desire worthy ones.

I will not ever speak a popular oppinion just to make you happy. Not in my books, not in my blog posts, not in a podcast. And, in order to make you understand why, I’m going to tell you something personal.

I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings. I never have. Causing distress goes against who I am and, due to a few issues growing up, I was also afraid. Afraid of how others might see me.

Becoming a writer has been an uphill struggle. I mean, just imagine how much courage it took for the ‘ugly weird girl’ to publicly release a book that many suggest is based on me. Imagine my fear that my family would read it, hate it, and assume it really was my attempt to attack my tormentors and spread the hurt I still harbored from years of bullying. It absolutely was not a conscious mirror of me. But I was so afraid; look at my main character killing people! My god, they’ll think I’m secretly a serial killer!

Freeing myself from this fear wasn’t easy. It took years. I spent hours talking myself through each book release. I spent even more time talking myself into behaving as though my stories deserved readers, into believing in my own talent enough to respect it. Ultimately, it required that I embrace one side or the other. Either I am a writer and determined to follow truth – even in fiction – and be authentic, or I must drop the whole thing; I’ve never been a halfway type of girl and I don’t want to be afraid of honesty. Nor did I want to be afraid of learning if I had true talent or just a pipe dream.

I say this for the other writers out there. You are going to be afraid. Be honest anyway. You are going to worry what others think. Say it anyway. You are going to be afraid that someone will point at you, laughing, and call you an imposter. Promote your work anyway. I will never tell you to be cruel with your honesty; we have enough bullies in the world, so respect others. Just tell the truth as well as you can. Be gentle with it, if you must. But be honest.

Look, I could stand here and tell you I was a happy teenager. I could tell you my marriage was a good one. I could tell you I’ve never felt let down, betrayed, or devalued. I would be lying. To tell you the truth about those things does not mean I’m dwelling – why would I – and it doesn’t mean I’m trying to use them to elevate myself anywhere. But people will say those things. Just like there are those who desperately need to believe that there is a massive conspiracy to keep us all deaf, dumb, and blind (not sure I completely disagree). By saying I am somehow lying or exploiting something, they are trying to protect themselves. Just understannding that will make you less afraid; if you know someone struck you because you startled them, it becomes easy to forgive them. As a writer, you are allowed to be afraid of telling your truths; it is always frightening to disagree with those you love. Do it anyway. Do it enough and you will stop being afraid.

I will restart the daily riff very soon. I’m going to introduce a new aspect 😉

A Nation Divided

**This is a re-post from Patreon**

So I was doing more research for Bone Deep last night. It so happens that one of the characters that showed up to this particular party was a Native (American) and there is a skinwalker. Since I’m fairly sure I got plenty wrong about this legend, and I’ve already decided to take this small delay in releasing the book, I decided I probably ought to do one last research run.

I really don’t know how I missed this horror the first time. Or how it’s possible that, with so many Americans crying out to protect the downtrodden, this isn’t daily news. It turns out our country has a darker underbelly than even I guessed. And I bet you don’t know about it either.

Being a Native – you know, as in, the actual, indigenous people of America – basically means you’re part of a third world nation that exists within one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Let that sink in. Because I want everyone to understand something. These are people so poor that they can’t even afford to stand up for themselves. On average, they make less than 4000 dollars per year per household. There aren’t even enough of them to make an impact in voting and, since they are so poor, no white politician is going to just stand up and help them. And I suspect our government, never high on my list of good guys, would like it to stay that way. But. I’m not jumping up and down on that right this instant. There happens to be an even more horrifying problem festering within this oozing sore of ugliness (here, have a tiny portion of the country we took from you… wait. Actually, we want that too. And you don’t need houses. And we don’t like your culture, either…).

I’ve known for a very long time we live in a rape culture. I just didn’t know there was a name for it. I grew up knowing that I must avoid certain places and be afraid if I saw a group of drunk men approach on a darkened street. This ‘don’t be a victim’ attitude has been taught to me since a very young age. Which goes to show just how little rapists are expected to take responsibility for a violent attack on someone else’s body. I’ve always known that rape carries less consequence than robbery. Like, yeah, take my daughter (or son, cause this happens to boys too) and do what you want to her, leave her with PTSD for life, but don’t steal from the bank if you ever want to see sunlight again. It only sounds unbalanced when you really think about it, right?

I, like too many others, have been assaulted. I, like too many others, have heard the suggestion that it is my job to stop assault rather than a man’s job to just control himself (and why that veiled suggestion that men are incapable of intelligent decisions and self control doesn’t infuriate them, I don’t know). As a girl, you either grow up with this knowledge or learn it the hard way. And it is so common, it rarely even makes the news and universities work hard to make sure it gets covered up. Better to cover up the violence than actually prevent it, right? My own assault inspired me to learn martial arts, to learn constant vigilance, own big dogs, shoot first and ask later, and basically make sure every male in a hundred mile radius know that I will put them in the ground if they even look like they might try to hurt me. Prison scares me way less than being hurt like that again.

But what do you do when you’re a thirteen year old kid that can’t fight? What do you do when your culture is over sexualized, your people minimized, and nobody wants to remember you exist? One in every three Native women and girls will be the victim of sexual assault at some point, most of them before they are even legal to drive. WTF??? A lot of these girls vanish without a trace, as well. It is so bad that a Native parent is actually taught what to say when their daughter is raped. When. Not if. And the true shame? Over 90% of these assaults are committed by non-native people on Native lands. So, you know all that raping and murdering you (if you’re like me) thought we’d stopped inflicting upon these people before the car even came along? Yeah, turns out it is still happening. Every. Single. Day.

I want you to think about that for a second. These people are generally decent folk who have been the victim of genocide. They have been sent to schools to whitewash them of their culture. Their land was stolen, their people slaughtered, and, supposedly, the US government gave them the reservations as payment (here, have some of the land we took and don’t have any use for to pay for the wholesale murder of your race… what a wonderful gift). Only, they didn’t really give it, did they? Anytime we want to run a pipeline, guess whose water we’re going to contaminate. Or, god forbid, we find anything of worth there. Then some bullshit reason – I feel cussing is appropriate here – is invented to get them off the land. Or maybe the president just signs it away because who needs a reason when you think you’re god?

If you’re like me, you thought this particular nightmare was over and firmly in the history books. After all. Aren’t we one of the greatest nations on earth, at the forefront on human and animal rights, desperate to save everyone that needs saving? Don’t we throw billions at other countries to help them? Don’t we give our ten cents a day so the Ethiopian children don’t have to starve? So we’d definitely know if bad stuff like that was happening in our own country, right? RIGHT?? Why wouldn’t we take care of our own people as well, particularly the ones that were damn near wiped out by the coming of the white people so that we can have our Starbucks and McDonalds? And in a country where we know who every celebrity is cheating on their spouse with, isn’t it a bit odd that we DON’T hear about this?

When’s the last time you heard about a Native American being treated as though they were trash or that their children were starving? When’s the last time you heard about them getting cast down? When was the last national television breaking news event where everyone prayed we’d find that Native American child alive and unharmed? When’s the last time you even heard that this epidemic of violence and hatred was happening? Never? Yeah, same here. Well. Turns out it is happening. We just aren’t being told.

If you know me, you know there are a few things that really turn me into a dragon. Most days, my rage is firmly under control – and I’ve got a lot of rage. But this. This is unacceptable. I should not be more informed on sexual violence in Africa or India than what is happening in my own backyard. The people of this country – ALL the people – ought to matter enough to be kept safe. So, yeah, I’m a little furious. In a face melting, rapist stabbing, burying bodies in the woods sort of way.

Obviously, one little redhead can’t go marching off to protest and get noticed, no matter how much fire she breaths. But I can do other things. Because I’m a writer, damnit. And I’m mad. Never a good mix. For the other guy.

Those of you that have read Getting Thin know that the central point is a brutal sexual assault and murder. Bone Deep – without spoilers – has a very similar axis. So here’s what’s going to happen. As of its release date, June 1st, half the royalties will be going to a non profit organization dedicated to Native Americans that have been or are at risk of being sexually assaulted. It isn’t enough, of course, but it’s the best I can do for now. I will also be dedicating my weekly rant on Darkwood to getting this information seen and spreading awareness.

This country of ours has always had the potential for true greatness in my eyes. Part of what makes it great is the myriad of cultures that call it home. But what does it say about us that the original culture and people have been swept under the proverbial rug? So I’m putting all other charity on hold. This needs to be addressed. People need to know about it. The Reservations need more funding for police, better opportunities for education, and more exposure to keep them from falling through the cracks. And their voices need to be heard.

I may not be able to go screaming into television cameras. I’m not some huge celebrity that can use my popularity to get the message into the mainstream. But you can bet I’m going to use every weapon I DO have for this. So, first, I’m dedicating Bone Deep to help prevent these atrocities and care for the survivors. I’ll post the name of the charity when I’ve done more research into the ones available. Once I can comfortably do so, all three books – yes, there is a third – will become full on charity books and every cent they make will go to charities that help provide safety to the Native people. Because everyone deserves safety. Because I am not okay with this happening to anyone. Because nobody else should be okay with it either. And the screams of these people for help should not go unheard and unanswered.

** I will be using some of my Patreon funds to help this cause as well. Feel free to pledge at the link below in order to stay informed on how much I’m actually donating. Funds, at this time, will be going to the NIWRC.**

Become A Patron

Divided We Fall

Okay, so I’m trying to finish Bone Deep and get a real understanding of what I’ve gotten myself into with this book – not only are there skinwalkers, but there is a powerful, Native American medicine man in this with Eva and I really wanted to know a few things. Like, what sort of backlash am I going to get for putting this guy in my novel (like he didn’t just breeze through the door and decide to be there, like all my characters)? Because, let’s face it, I’m not writing angels here, so there are plenty of non respectable behaviors (and evil people), though they have very little to do with race. Some people are just evil and skin color has nothing to do with it. Hell, babe. Evil will say it is all about skin color, religion, ect, and hide behind pride in their culture while perverting it, so there you go. That is what evil really is.

So, while doing this research, I’ve seen racism from all sides. White, black, Asian, Native American, purple people eaters, everyone seems to hate everyone else for no more reason than *gasp* they aren’t exactly like the person doing the hating. Which requires me to state my philosophy, which is bound to get me in trouble. My skin color does not make me an asshole. Sure, white people did lots of things back in the day, but you know what? Someone like me would have (and still would) put a mofo in the ground for that crap. I see some idiot man trying to assault one of my beautiful sisters, skin color (and anything else) is going to be the last thing I worry about. I don’t give a good god damn, I’ll make him a member of ‘crazy bitch cut it off and broke a table with my face’ club. Hell yeah. But. I don’t look at all men like they are potential rapists or abusive sexists either. And, while it is primarily the question of color that lit my fuse today, I want you to understand, this is about all hate, be it against gender, sexual preference, or religion. So why am I so mad right now?

Because Native American and Indian (as in from india) are two different races and Google doesn’t seem to understand that. Because Navaho and Cree or Cherokee and freaking Lakota are different tribes with different belief systems and none of them are freaking Buddhist, damnit, so why is that coming up in my searches???? And I’m really, really pissed because, god damnit, if you are going to hold me accountable for the stupidity of my ancestors (dude, I’m Scottish and mine weren’t even here yet, so yeah) then you also have to take the responsibility of allowing me to apologize instead of trying to hang me based on something as stupid as skin pigment. One of my ancestors, William Wallace, would have been right up there, naked as the day he was born, fighting for the natives. Bank on it. The Scottish have seen what happens when someone makes war on your people including and not limited to trying to breed you right out of existence. Also, we do love a good fight. Which means suggesting I must be this or that sort of evil because I’m white just makes me want to breathe fire and melt some faces off which, I realize, does little to negate the appearance of evil.

I’m pissed because there are people out there who think that skin color can actually make you better than someone else. I hate the people who speak like being white is some sort of god given perk. Give me a break. Nobody gets to be more special than anyone else and, yes, I’m talking to any white person that believes it should as well as anyone else that thinks everyone with white skin believes that. I’m pissed because the variations of cultures are so damn beautiful, like a vast and brightly colored quilt and too many people are trying to shove everyone into this cookie cutter suburban life that is painted in shades of gray. Really, that is the only thing we ought to be trying to stamp out. Yet, at the same time, there are too many people trying to hide their beliefs away for fear someone will try to appropriate it. Honestly, everyone knows a culture isn’t a prom dress and, sometimes, people are just fascinated with the beauty of other ways of life. By trying to showcase it, those cultures are being brought into the spotlight and that means they aren’t being burnt out. So why would that make someone angry? I’m not Japanese, but I still love Japan, so, yeah, I’m going to celebrate it. Why the hell is that offensive? Should I be trying to pretend it doesn’t exist instead?

I am angry because,  that guy over there judged you on what you look like, but I sure as fuck didn’t and never would. So you judging me on him? A waste of precious time. You know his viewpoint. Not mine. Also, it makes you no better than him; you are placing someone in a box because you think you know who I am based on looks. You cannot fight hate with hate. Throwing fire at fire only creates more fire. You cannot expect anyone to fight for or with you if you are bashing them over the head for the sins of bullies and lesser minded people. You cannot change history. But you can move into a better future based on lessons learned from it. I do not expect you to ‘get over it’. God, let no-one ever forget the lessons of the past because, damnit, we still haven’t learned everything they have to say. But I do expect you to use the intelligence you absolutely possess and stop blanket judging. I’m not sorry I am what I am. My ancestors were running around in kilts and fighting wars in their birthday suits. By god I embrace that. Before you decide I’m soft, you might want to look that up and recognize that evil tyrants are always going to be looking for someone to dominate. It isn’t about skin color, gender, language, origin, not really. That’s just the propaganda that turns a perfectly normal person into someone that will throw another person into a fucking gas chamber. Tyrants just want control, evil just wants to create agony, so they teach people hate wrapped up in a pretty bow called ‘pride and loyalty’ and guess what. Nobody actually gets to be happy. Except the tyrant. Don’t be like them. Don’t decide I’m worthless based on what I was born looking like.

Let’s be super clear. I don’t want to change you. If you hate me for my white skin, fine. Go on and hate me. Don’t expect me to like it. Don’t expect me to bow down, ashamed of something I never would have been part of, don’t expect me to accept your judgments if they are based on something less than the person I really am, underneath my skin. And know this. All won’t stop me from protecting your daughter, you, your son, your grandmother if I see someone taking advantage. It won’t stop me from throwing them out of the way or a bus or jumping out to help if I see they are hurt. It will not change the fact that I will hold the door open or give you my place in line if you’ve got one thing and I have fifty. Just like I would for anyone and everyone because being kind, polite, and brave never goes out of style. Doing what is right (or even just kind) is never, ever a bad thing. It is my right as a human being to follow the teachings of my father, who believed in judging men and women by their hearts, to help those in need as often and well as I can, and kick the living crap out of anyone being an asshole. And I will. Based on the fact they are an asshole, regardless of what they look or sound like.

I’m angry because I love all you crazy people, even the ones that hate me because an accident of genetics makes me so pale they can see me from space (let me get a good sunburn and I can signal the other end of the galaxy). Even the ones that hate me because I’m a woman, because I’m short, because I’m a redhead (damn straight I eat souls, babies, but they were all evil), because I speak English and can’t seem to learn another language properly (to be fair, probably shouldn’t have started with Japanese), because I’m a woman that enjoys the company of men, because I’m a woman who believes it is okay to cook once in a while (I just suck at it), because I’m tattooed, because I like to dress up or dress down, because I wear corsets and don’t have children. There will always be someone hating me because I believe anyone can be anything they want to be and don’t keep it to myself, or just because I believe everyone has their demons to face and nobody should be using their personal challenges to try and prove they are more worthy. I’m angry because the only skin color I hate is orange and I’m pretty sure that’s because the person wearing it is doing a pretty good imitation of a jackass with an I.Q. in the single digits, yet the actions of a few jerks has put me in a place where I’m afraid to even publish this post (like that’s going to stop me) because I don’t want to offend someone who has spent their life being picked on for a number of reasons and cause yet more pain.

I am thoroughly pissed because, let’s face it, if it wasn’t for the rotten apples that continue to march around like white skin is some sort of honor (a master race that can be taken out by a bad sunburn. Really. Tell me more), nobody would be jumping on me for being racist when, really, I’m just trying to research something in order to present it in a well informed light. Hey, am I going to make every Native American in my book a paragon of awesomeness? No. Because reality is, there are dark hearts everywhere. Evil doesn’t give a damn about skin color – although it will be quick enough to use it as a divisive force – all evil cares about is destruction and suffering and, when you write horror, that is why it is horror. But I think that the desire to present a good man as true to his culture is important.

I am pissed because it seems to be the general consensus that my male hero is an exception to the rule of his culture and blood when I think he is an example of it. It feels like anyone choosing to say that I am a good person, despite my white skin is saying I’m the exception to the rule. Which means nobody expects me to be good because I’m white, which means they expect me to be a bad person, which translates to selfish, stupid, and racist, and I have to prove I’m not. Meanwhile, there are too many saying the same thing about every other race and culture. I’ll never forget the boss I had when I was in my twenties, who wanted me to follow black girls around the store because she just knew they were going to shoplift. In her words, ‘she wasn’t racist; that’s just the way they are raised’. That attitude toward anyone hurt me then and it hurts me even more now. You aren’t what you see in the fucking mirror. Just like my mother always told me my heart problems should never be the reason I didn’t try to run around the track, no-one should ever estimate their self worth (or the worth of others) and abilities on the wrapper they happen to be wearing in this life. So long as you expect only the worst from someone (or yourself) based on appearance, then you are creating more devils than there actually are. Ever notice how everything just seems to be getting worse? We allow ourselves to divide, to start unnecessary wars. Instead of taking pride in our respective cultures and embracing that our differences are what make us beautiful to each other, we are bound and determined to make it a competition. For what? The right to start the next genocide? Yeah. Think good and hard about that.

You know what? I love, love, LOVE seeing beautiful women wrapped in silk with lovely, dark skin and uber long black hair. I want to know why they wear what they wear and what the dot on their forehead means. I want to know about the Native American cultures and what each tribe did or didn’t believe in. I love the sound of tribal drums and I want to know what all of it means, not so I can pretend I am one of them, but so I can understand the foundations that have created the person standing before me and re-create them in words. You are damn straight I love my red hair. I also love knowing that there are men who live right down on the skin of the earth, nurturing themselves with what nature provides, and I love that there are people out there discovering that we are all connected by actual physical properties and planning colonies on Mars. I refuse to make every single person I write about a white, middle class, small town person. Boring. But how the hell do I present other cultures and beliefs properly when people hide it away based on the fact that I’m white and therefore trying to destroy them? I want to honor people who were born and raised different from me. I am sick of all the damn hate. We’ve got to stop throwing stones at each other. We’ve got to stop caring about our differences. We need to start celebrating the beauty of this damned old world and all the things that are amazing about our lives. Yes. I’m white. I’m from Scottish blood and one of my great, great grandmothers was a Cherokee who in no way shape or form was taken advantage of, but that does not mean I am in tune with anything in that culture because I was raised in a cornfield. Ask me about dogs or horses or corn. I know lots about that. Ask me about tartans and about my crazy, weird family.

I’m pissed because nobody else seems to realize that, by encouraging hatred or even distrust based on skin color, they are actually helping the assholes. They can keep stepping on us because we’re too busy arguing with each other to stand up as one and say ‘nope’. Nobody expects anyone like me to stand up and say ‘wait, that’s wrong’ on their behalf. Guess what? I don’t care that I was born here and you were born in urban Chicago. Your kids still deserve to eat. Perpetuating the belief that you can judge character based on what you think I had or didn’t have in my life just means you aren’t bothering to read the book. You miss the part where my mother told me stories about fighting racism in the hospital where she worked (the problems a slice of chocolate cake could cause is disturbing), you miss the part where I was from the ‘weird family’ in town and, therefore, was treated like I was less than human because, even when you all look the same, the bad guys still need a target. You miss the part where I lost a sister and brother to cancer, where I struggled to get noticed as intelligent because I happen to be female and not hideous, where I’ve been accused of being racist without saying a single word, despite having been quietly sitting there, reading and oblivious, before the accusation was made. You miss the part where my opinion was devalued based on a number of factors that, apparently, made me lesser than the person judging me.

When you look for the devil, you are going to find it, even if you have to invent it. To perpetuate prejudice in any form means reinforcing and breeding those things that you actually want to end. By teaching our children that their race or gender or country of birth gives them the right to hate and exclude everyone else, we are teaching them to continue the stupidity. Why not teach them to expect more out of others – regardless of what’s on the surface – so that they can actually see true evil when it shows up? Don’t think for a second I don’t feel for the pain you’ve suffered and wish I could go back in time to stop it from happening. But stop and think for a second. Do you really believe my pale skin means I never suffered a few things you know nothing about? Or that I wish you ill just because of it? Do you really believe that my pain is less than yours? And what if it is? We each have our own place on this earth. Each life we live is about the lessons we learn within it. If you hate me because it seems like I was born with more, that’s just a little bit weird. I don’t think a fish hates a bird because it was born a fish and can’t fly. I don’t think a mountain lion hates a dog because it was born in the wild and the dog has a pillow to sleep on. Honestly, none of these creatures would trade place with the others, but that doesn’t mean it would be wrong for the bird to wonder what it would be like to swim. It’s not like our souls were locked in mortal combat to win the life with the least trouble in it. There was a reason I was born me and you were born you. And you know what? There is no changing that, so all we really can do is just accept it, hug it out, and move the hell on. After all, you can be proud of who and what you are without taking a single thing from me and I can be proud of what I am while loving all that you are as well. As the saying goes. Your candle does not get brighter by putting out someone else’s. But use your candle to light another’s and watch how the light drives the darkness back.

You want my respect? You have it. I’m not trying to discover your culture so I can hurt you. I ask questions because I want to know, because I want to understand. I am curious and I love learning what I don’t know. If my questions sound stupid, remember that I’m trying to overcome my ignorance. I want to honor who you are and who every one of your ancestors before you was. And I’m angry because you take my desire to inform others of the beauty of your culture and the wonderful heroes among you as an attempt to steal and destroy that which is precious.

Go ahead and flame me for this. I am so damn tired of walking on eggshells and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever again have someone smart enough (or brave enough) to stand up and call out the true evil of the world (hint, it isn’t being born as you are). If I had one wish, it would be that people would take off the damn blinders. We all bleed. And just because I was stabbed by a knife while you were shot with a gun doesn’t one of us more dead than the other. All these walls we build only make it easier for the truly evil to control us. There is no victor in this war. Victory only comes when we can embrace all that we are, all that everyone else is, and let hate die. United we stand. Divided we fall. #OneWorld