Monthly Archives: March 2014

My Abortion

I found out almost two weeks ago that I was five weeks pregnant. My partner and I, as university students, were actively trying to avoid having children by using birth control. We have one more year of university left and would have risked having to put our education aside temporarily in order to deal with the pregnancy and the infants first year. Instead of risking our own futures we decided to terminate the pregnancy. We feel as though any future offspring that we have will benefit from our having completed our education. I went in to the abortion clinic on Monday to begin the process. 

I chose to have a medical abortion. That means that the doctor at the clinic gave me a shot to stop the fetus from growing, then I was given medication to open my uterus so that the fetus would be flushed out of my system before it could cause an infection. Basically, I had a miscarriage. The process has taken all week. I only just aborted the fetus today. This week has been tough on me because of the abortion: I basically had the flu for a week. The medication is tough on the body. It made me nauseous and tired. I barely ate, I slept a lot, and I did little activity throughout the day. I wouldn’t suggest this method for any woman who cannot afford to take the week off.

I am writing about this for a few reasons. First, every year the Genocide Awareness Project people come to my university twice, once in fall and once in winter. I want to say that my abortion looked nothing like what they show in their pictures, nor would it have had I chosen a surgical abortion. I was six weeks pregnant when I went in for the abortion. My fetus was too small to see. There was just a blood clot. The same type of thing that most women see every period. At most, the fetus would have been 12 weeks when I had the abortion. That is because after 12 weeks I would need a doctors permission to abort. There either would have had to be something wrong with the fetus or there would have to be some health risk affecting me. That being said, if those pictures are GAP’s main argument as to why abortion is genocide then they are seriously misguided. The women getting abortion that look like that, where I live, aren’t getting them because they want to. They are getting them because they have to. And GAP is causing those women undo harm by calling them murderers.

Second, recently there has been a push among some in the secular community to become pro-life. Secular Pro-Life argues that abortion is murder and that fetuses deserve human rights. Here’s the problem: my fetus hasn’t lived. It hasn’t thought any thoughts or participated in any aspect of society. It hasn’t contributed anything. My partner and I have. We vote, we volunteer, we work, we are getting our education. If the fetus had stayed inside of me, I would have continued to have morning sickness, which would have affected my ability to participate in societal life. I would have been unable to attend my fall semester at school, and the winter semester would have been difficult to attend. That would mean waiting an extra year to graduate. I wouldn’t be working or volunteering either. Not only would the fetus not be participating in society, neither would I. Sure, the fetus was human. But do it’s rights outweigh mine? Does it get to negatively affect my life because it has rights too? After all, I was trying not to have a baby. I also don’t think that abortion can be called murder. If a famous violinist is going to die, but they are attached to me when I am unaware, have I murdered that violinist by making the doctors detach the violinist? The violinist case is a well-known case that shows that abortion isn’t murder, since I never agreed to play host to the fetus and be its life support. 

I know that abortion is a touchy subject for a lot of people. But I think that it is well past time that we discuss it. Too many women find themselves scared and confused in the face of an unwanted pregnancy. Many are guilted into raising babies that they cannot afford or that they never wanted because people tell them that they must. But that puts a burden on all of society, not just the mother in question. How many more people would be educated and self-sufficient if they weren’t forced to put their lives aside to raise a child? How many less children would be abused if all children were wanted? I think that these are very important questions that need to be considered before anybody judges a woman for having an abortion. 

Tough Decisions

My partner and I have had a rough year. We are both university students at the end of our degrees. University is tough enough as it is. What with a full time course load and papers to write and tests to study for. We also volunteer. But it seems as though we get hit with one bomb shell after another. Just when our lives have finally settled down we get yet another bomb shell dropped on us.

Don’t get me wrong: we are extremely lucky. We have been together for over a year and our relationship is as strong as ever. We have been able to move into a place of our own and have enough money saved up so that we do not have to work while we are going to school. I wish everybody could be so lucky. But dealing with stressful situations, especially the ones that nobody expects to deal with so young, can make it impossible to see the bright side.

After dealing with a series of deaths, having to move multiple times until finally being allowed to settle down, and having to fight to move into our place, we really just want to finish school and enter the so-called ‘real world.’ But now we have another problem: despite actively trying to prevent this very thing, I have discovered that I am pregnant. It’s not what we wanted, and it’s not what we needed, and now I am very conflicted.

My partner and I are both pro-choice. We believe that abortion is a perfectly acceptable action if that is what the pregnant woman feels is best. My partner believes that an abortion is the best option for us. We are still in school and we want to travel. I’m not so sure. Yes, having the baby will make school more difficult, but we both only have one year left. Travelling will be harder, but I want to make it work anyway. I want to give my children the opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures. We already plan to get married after we graduate and we have not only decided that we want kids, but we have already decided how many kids we want and that we want to adopt as well as have our own. Deciding to have an abortion when you know that you want kids is very difficult. It feels like a waste. I can see the merits of both sides and that is what is making me so conflicted. One the one hand, my life would be much easier if I had the abortion and waited a few years to have kids. On the other hand, I have a kid already in the making.

I have been going through periods of depression as a result of the pregnancy because I don’t know what the best option is. I have a feeling that whatever I choose will cause me periods of regret, and I think that I might feel as though I made the wrong decision either way. 

I can’t help but feel that my decision is being forced by an unfair system. I am five weeks along. I have until week 7 to do a medical abortion and week 12 to do surgical abortion. That means that my decision making process is rushed. I had to schedule the abortion before I had time to think about whether or not I actually wanted one. Now the abortion is set up and I am trying to decide if I actually want to go through with it. I have until Monday to decide. How can anybody decide that they are ready to be a parent in a week? I wish I knew what to do, but I know that I have a tough decision either way and neither option is one that I would have chosen given the choice.

Why an Atheist in Interfaith?

A few years ago I never would have tried involving myself in anything interfaith. After all, faith is in the name. I don’t have a faith, so there is no space in the interfaith movement for me. Right? It was a couple of friends of mine who convinced me to check out the multi-faith center at my school. Neither friend is an atheist, but I have a lot of respect for both. They were both also regular visitors at the multi-faith center. I have now been a volunteer there for almost a year. 

So, why an atheist in interfaith? At the time I just wanted to meet new people. I wanted to get to know people with different backgrounds from my own so that I can learn how to work with different people. I didn’t realize how important my involvement would be until later. From discussions I have had with others, as well as books that I have read both from atheists and from people in the interfaith community, I have come to discover how important my involvement actually is. 

Many atheists are strongly against interfaith work. I believe that a lot of that has to do with their dislike of the religious aspects. According to Greta Christina, interfaith brings religious people together, but it creates an other in atheists. It allows the people involved in interfaith to demonize atheists. All the more reason for atheists to get involved. We don’t have to agree with their religious beliefs to work with them. After all, the people are all from different backgrounds as is: they don’t agree with each others’ beliefs. We can disagree with each other and still respect each other. And if atheists join interfaith groups then we cease to be the other. We become people that are cared for and respected. It’s hard to demonize a group when you know people who are in that group and you respect them. The same could be said about how atheists view religious people. Their is this trend of creating an other of religious people. Yes, I think religious beliefs are silly. Yes, I believe that there are dangers with allowing religions political power. But the people who are part of those religions are usually good people. They usually share many other beliefs with me. In short, they are not the institution that they are apart of. I believe that working with religious people is the best way to get atheists to see that. Once we as a group don’t see religious people as an other, and once we create an environment where we aren’t seen as others, then we can create a society that is more tolerant of atheists.

If you are an atheist, please do not write off working with religious people because they are religious. Talk with them, get to know them. See them as people first and let them know that you are also first and foremost a person. You can find a place in interfaith if you want to. Or you can find other ways to get to know religious people. But please don’t turn them into others. And don’t isolate yourself so that you are an other. Otherwise nothing will change and atheists will always be seen as societal demons.

If you are religious, please do not feel that you cannot talk to me. We may not agree where religion is concerned, but that does not mean that we cannot get along. I believe that getting along is far more important for improving society than agreeing on everything is. If you are part of an interfaith community, please allow yourself to be open to atheists. Like I said before, we are people first and foremost. I hope that we can see each other as such and have mutual respect for one another.

On Politics

Stephen Harper has been the head of Canada’s government for over a decade. I was a teenager when he came to power. I have voted federally twice and have never voted for Harper. I am not a Conservative.I do not like many of the party’s platforms. But I find Stephen Harper’s government problematic more so because of Harper than because it is a Conservative majority.

Stephen Harper seems to have little respect for the environment or for the people of Canada. He has a tendency to put corporations ahead of the people. He has caused science libraries to be shut down and he has silenced the scientists of Canada. He is allowing oil companies to hurt our environment: “Canada’s carbon emissions will soar 38% by 2030 mainly due to expanding tar sands projects, according to the government’s own projections.” I find this to be very problematic. Without scientific data it is easy to cause unnecessary environmental disasters like oil spills. It is also harder to share the data, which means that our scientists take longer to make important discoveries. And it hurts our education system because students aren’t taught about recent scientific advancements. As for the harm to the environment, that’s just bad for everybody. Personally, I believe that either his evangelical background or the evangelical backgrounds of a number of his backers is responsible for his disregard for science and the environment. I’m going by what I know about American politics to make that claim.

To add to the problems I see with Harper’s government is Harper’s apparent disregard for the Canadian people. In 1997, Harper said “I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it’s legendary that if you’re like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.” This was said to a group of American visitors to Canada. So according to Harper we, as Canadians, know nothing about our own country or any other. What does this say about Harper? To me, it says that he thinks we are stupid and easily manipulated. Perhaps that is why he thinks that he can get away with destroying our science and our country. In the same speech he said “[Y]our country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.” There is no question that Harper idolizes the American government. Otherwise he wouldn’t be trying to turn Canada into another United States. This scares me. We are not the United States. I do not like how the United States is run. It is a failing empire. One should not attempt to build their country to be a model of a failing country. Canada should be emulating the countries that are doing better than us on the world stage. The countries with better education, better life-expectancy, better science programs, etc.

Harper troubles me. His version of Canada troubles me. I feel as though I have been watching my country crumble around me. For as long as I have been able to vote I have watched my country crumbling around me. And yet I have studied Canada’s rich history. It is not without its problems, but Canadian history has made me proud of many of the achievements of my country. I am glad that I was born here. But more and more I am not sure that I want to die here. I truly hope that Harper is not given a fourth term as Prime Minister. I am hoping that the Liberals or NDP take power. And I hope that which ever one of those two doesn’t get the PM seat gets to be the opposition.


Volunteering and Community Involvement

The first thing that I was told during orientation upon starting my college career was to “get involved.” It is a common idea spread throughout universities and colleges. It is a sensible idea: a university degree takes four years of full time schooling, it is impossible to begin a good career without both a degree and experience, and working retail does not give one adequate experience. But it wasn’t until I transferred to my current university that I actually began to get involved. The college that I intended was small had had little in the way of opportunities for involvement, but my current university is full of such opportunities.

I fully understand the importance of experience where a career is concerned, and I love participating in the activities that I participate in, but I sometimes can’t help but wonder what it’s all for. I want to become a writer. I don’t want a traditional career. I suppose if my dream doesn’t pan out, then I will be able to make use of my involvement, but I hope that that will not be the case. The best part of volunteering is the people that I have met and have gotten to know. That will always stick with me and make the time worth while. But my activities can be a real pain. Last week I had to put on a book sale that I had organized. I had to send out e-mails announcing the event, plan for storage of the books when they weren’t be sold. Get one of my club members to book the necessary space for the sale, and attempt to round up some unwilling volunteers to sell the books. That while attempting to put my schooling first.Needless to say, I had to skip a few classes. This coming week is only slightly better. On Tuesday my club has a mental health booth that we are not prepared for. Our intention was to help promote mental health with another club, but that won’t be happening. On Thursday my other volunteer group has a round table event on activism going on. Luckily that one is organized and I now just have to attend. Setting up these events is stressful. It takes multiple people to organize and pull off these events, but working with people isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It would be helpful if I didn’t have other things going on at the same time, but there is always classwork to do and the regular weekly events to hold.

All that being said, I have gained real experience where planning and organizing events is concerned, and I have some concrete leadership training as well. I have some excellent resume material. And it has been interesting, and even fun, to get that experience. But the stress often drives me to hope that I never have to use that experience.

Gender Varience

My writing lately has been quite experimental. I have been testing the waters and trying to decide what I like best. I really like reading fantasy, and I enjoy writing it too. But I am also interested in different genres. My first novel has been completed and is currently entered in a contest. I doubt that I’ll get very far as this is the first contest that I have entered, but I thought it worth a try. It will take a while before I know how I fared. That novel was a fantasy novel. Now I am working on two short stories that I also intend to submit into a couple of contests. They are both fairly philosophical. One is about falling out of ones faith and one is about gender non-conformity. 

One thing that I have learned through my writing is that I like writing gender non-conforming characters. I like characters who do not fit into societal norms in general, but gender non-conformity is my favorite so far. I know that this could limit my target audience, but I am fine with that. I don’t think that there are nearly enough fictional characters out their that are outside of the norm. People like the average Joe because they can relate to that character. But what about the people who can’t relate to the average Joe? I would like to offer characters that those people can relate to. And if I ever become a well-known author I would like to help create a society where those who don’t fit within societal conventions can feel safe and aren’t at greater risk for depression and suicide. 

This, however, isn’t just something I want to do for gender non-conforming people. While I think that they tend to be the most likely to be discriminated against, they are not the only group that is not represented in today’s media. I am hoping to write another short story where the main character has autism spectrum disorder. I am intending to write most of my stories with main characters that fit outside of societal norms. It is important to me to work towards a society where finding oneself outside of the societal norm doesn’t make one the ‘other’.

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