My expectations were too high for myself. When it came to Statistics, I didn't just want to learn it, I wanted to master it. But then I got hung up on that stupid goal and now I am a month behind in the class. So what I need to freaking do is just pound it out. Who gives a fart if I don't know what some of the keys do or some of the commands are. Just do it. Complete the assignments, do the midterm, be done.
I am thinking of trying to motivate myself to read the paper (Salt Lake Tribune) cover to cover by commenting on it daily.
The Friday, November 4th paper had an article in it by the New York Times reporter, Nicholas Kristof, who co-wrote Half The Sky, with his wife. They have won a ton of awards for their amazing reporting on poverty and injustice around the world. They don't just write about it, they travel to it and try to understand it. Half the Sky is a book that I think every person should read.
So, in this article, he talks about how comparing birth control to having more sex is like comparing an umbrella to having more rain. It's about being prepared, plain and simple. He talks about how important this is for countries where the women do not have a lot of rights, and are likely to be raped. He talks about how religious groups used to see contraception as a kind of moral get-out-of-jail-free-card, where it would be akin to telling the person to go and have a lot of pre-marital sex. They thought that more sex would lead to an increase in abortions. And because religious groups, or religious countries, often donated aid, they could give the aid with strings attached like "No birth control allowed".
In fact, studies have now shown that the effect that contraception has had is a decrease in abortions. It is estimated that contraception prevents 112 million abortions a year! That is amazing to me. But it makes sense. If you are protected with birth control before someone rapes you, you don't have to worry about seeking an abortion after the fact, so that you can go back to your village and show your face without having to worry about losing your kids, family, home, etc.
The cool thing that Kristof says is that now there are religions that are seeing the science and the facts behind contraceptions and getting on the right side of the debate. Instead of all of this fear mongering and moral superiority, they are preaching common sense. The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good is drafting a Family Planning statement that says, "Family planning is morally laudable (good) in Christian terms because of its contribution to family well-being, women's health, and the prevention of abortion." Kristof says "Amen" and so do I.
I hope that other religions jump on that bandwagon and see the charity and compassion in giving women the safety to live through a rape without the additional complications of pregnancy. To give the women in developing countries, who barely have enough to feed themselves, the same empowerment that American middle-class women have in ensuring that they don't have more children than they can mentally, emotionally, or financially take care of.
Seeing the front page of the Trib, about how the Department of Child and Family Services in the Eastern Region of the State is under fire for removing a ton of kids from their parents, was super disturbing. They spotlighted a family, the Starks, who lost their boys because of the father's drug abuse. Now I get that having a Dad with a substance abuse problem is not a good thing when it comes to having a family of children. But from the article, it sounds like the Eastern DCFS department was on a mission to take away these kids from the start. The family struggled with lack of income, because they are in an area of high unemployment. The court mandated that the Dad seek counseling, that he had to pay for and could not afford. When they discovered that he wasn't doing his counseling they took the kids away. But instead of placing them with extended family, which is the preference, the agency took the kids all the way up to Orem, to a foster family. The story is super disturbing. The Department is under investigation now, which will hopefully spread some light on cases like that of the Stark family.
Another article highlighted the high welfare rates in rural Utah towns. It showed how one Utah town didn't even have a grocery store, so they were completely dependent on the local Food Pantry when their government checks ran out. How is it even morally OK that we have towns without grocery stores? Remember the Depression, when the LDS Church took to building basketball courts in all their meeting houses, to give the men (most of whom could not find work) jobs to do...How about building grocery stores in the communities that need them, so that people can feed their families? I have driven through some rural towns, always quickly, on my way to some camping spot or bigger city. It is pretty bone-chilling to step out of your car and in to the reality that many people face, where day-to-day living is way harder than it should be. When the gas station functions as the grocery store, and the only produce they have for sale are some rotting bananas, you wonder how this can be the same America that most of us know and love.
So, there were my two cents about Friday's paper.