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Monday, July 11, 2016

Therapy

I see a lot of memes about how ______ is better than therapy,  because _____. Or how _____ can replace medication. Now, lots of things can be therapeutic or play a role in someone's mental health. Unfortunately, those memes tend to add to the stigma against discussing and treating people with mental illness, so I thought I'd write about what therapy actually does for me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I will not be silent

Let me say again: I will not be silent

I've been putting off this post for a while. There's so much I want to say, and it's so hard to find words adequate to express these feelings. But it has to be said, because I cannot simply let it go.
What feelings do I need to express? Rage. Horror. Sorrow. Fury. Despair. Terror. 
Why? Shootings. Terrorism. Discrimination. Scapegoating of Refugees. Hate.
The world is a pretty terrible place in a lot of ways. Bad things happen everyday. I feel like nothing I do can make a lasting difference. But I believe that feeling is wrong. Bad things happen, but so do good things. The good things are just smaller, easier to miss. Why am I taking time from my final papers and pushing back my lunch hour to share my thoughts? Because I believe in hope and change. 

Shootings

People saying that more gun laws won't fix the problem of mass shootings. Well, maybe not, but since we currently don't research the subject on a large scale, and gun stores aren't required to publish their sales data, and we keep losing people to other people with guns, it's time we actually did something. I don't know what we should do, but I don't want to live in a place that has had more shootings than days in the year. Yes, this year. 2015. In our country that's supposedly at peace. And it's not the end of the year yet. There has to be a solution. Banning automatic, multiple shot weapons (assault rifles, sniper rifles, etc.) from sale to private individuals would be a good start. I don't care if someone wants to have a rifle, a shotgun or target pistol, even though I will personally never own one, but anything more is designed for killing people, not hunting or self protection. And note I said private individuals, not law enforcement agencies or military. Don't bring up the argument that if guns are illegal, only criminals will have them. Other countries with tough gun laws don't have mass shootings. Japan's laws are so strict that not even criminals have guns. Note that the guns used in most mass shootings are obtained legally, sometimes thanks to loopholes or mistakes in background checks. Those loopholes need to be closed, and background checks need to be much more thorough. And don't tell me that most shooters have mental illnesses. Some do, yes, but there's more to it than that, and if it were just mental illness, all the perpetrators would fit that profile, or all people with mental illness would be violent. They do not and they are not. This is domestic terrorism. The fact that we only discuss mental illness after a shooting where the perpetrator is mentally ill is another severe societal problem. The stigma surrounding mental illness needs to stop. 

Terrorism

It's happening everywhere. Syria. Paris. Beirut. Pakistan. It may not show up on Fox news, but people are dying every day. And of course the shootings I discuss above are domestic terrorism. Daesh (ISIS) is one of the perpetrators, and it's a mistake to confuse them with their victims. Most Muslims are shocked and horrified by the Paris attacks, and those who live in places where they experience such attacks with regularity can empathize even more. 

Discrimination

Some claim that we'll be safer if we turn away those who are different from "us". People try to set "us" against "them" in another attempt to create a scapegoat to blame for the world's problems. Muslims. Jews. Blacks. Native Americans. People of Japanese Descent. Muslims again. It's happened before, and this is how it starts. We forget history, we ignore its lessons, and we fall into the same trap. Again. The photo is of a sign at Auschwitz with a quote by Santayana, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." In 1492, Spain exiled Muslims and Jews, and over the next centuries, Spanish society fell into the trap of trying to distance itself from anything Islamic or Jewish. People with the wrong names or the wrong ancestors (those who converted when they were forced to choose: convert, leave or die) were shunned. Purity of lineage and religious orthodoxy were highly esteemed. Severe economic problems were only one side-effect of this. Similar things happened during Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Franco, like Hitler, was fascist, and tried to squash independence among Basque and Catalan people, among other atrocities. 

Scapegoating of Refugees

I worked with refugees from Burma for a few weeks in 2011. Cast out of their country, their cultures and languages despised, they'd spent up to years in refugee camps before coming to the USA. They struggled to learn English, they worked, and they opened their homes to three white girls who were there to share a message about Jesus. They had little and they welcomed us and fed us. They remain a marginalized group here, but at least they no longer fear for their lives. Hearing about the refugee crisis now reminds me of those people. They are good people who just want to live with their families somewhere that they don't have to be afraid. Most refugees have to apply for safe haven, and they don't get to choose where they go. It's the least likely way for a terrorist to try and get into the USA. 

HateLove

The world seems filled with hate, and that overwhelms me with despair at times. I wonder what I can possibly do to make a difference when so many people with power and influence transmit messages of hatred and divisiveness daily. Well, this is what I will do. I will not be silent. In the face of hate, I will share love. In the face of scapegoating, I will build bridges of understanding. In the face of discrimination, I will befriend those around me. In the face of terrorism, I will spread hope. In the face of pain and death, I will mourn with those who mourn and I will do everything within my power to stop the suffering. Let us learn from history and break the cycle of hate. We are more than our fears. We are more than hate. We can love one another and rejoice in our shared humanity. If we come together rather than let divisive rhetoric drive us apart, we have a chance. 

When I dwell on the hateful, terrible things in the world, I want to push back, and I get angry. No, furious. Rage fills me and my first impulse is to lash out. But hate only breeds more hate. The only way to overcome hatred is with love. We can make the world a better place. If each of us does one small thing each day, it will make a difference. Small, everyday, ordinary, simple deeds can change the world and push back the infectious power of hate. Learn from history. Learn from literature. Learn from one another. And keep fighting. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How to survive an MA program

I graduate from Brigham Young University my MA this December, although I am already at the University of Kentucky working on my PhD. I have been meaning to write a list of advice for incoming MA students since I left BYU.
My specialty was literature, so my advice specifically applies to that area of study, but I think it's general enough that pedagogy and linguistics students could also benefit.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My name and birthplace

What is your full name? Why did your parents give you that name? 

My name is Kiersty Lemon-Rogers. I was born Kiersty Lemon. My parents were going to name me Alexander, but thankfully they decided that I might be a girl so they picked a more typically female name shortly before I was born. One of my great-great-great-something grandmothers was named Kjerstina Trulson, and my parents liked the name enough that they wanted to name me after her. They decided that most Americans (United Statesians, to be more specific) wouldn't be able to figure out how to say Kjerstina, so they went with Kiersty instead. 

When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighborhood, and the town you grew up in.
Well, I didn't grow up in just one town. I was born in Detroit, in Henry Ford hospital where my dad was doing his residency in Emergency Medicine. The main thing I remember about Detroit is that we had a garden and a tire swing. We moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, shortly after my brother was born. He was born at home, during the last nap I ever took. I was two and a half. In Indiana we had a blue house with a hill. We lived close to my Aunt Edna and her family, and they were the closest family I had. I remember going to Primary (the children's class at our church) there, and playing with my cousins. When I was five, we moved to Quincy, Illinois. I remember the first house we lived in there, a rental house right next to Madison park. We had a merry-go-round in the back yard, too, and there were plenty of room for playing inside. We lived there until the house we lived in next was built. That house had an awesome playset that my parents built for us. When my mom was called to be the president of our ward's Relief Society, my parents decided that it would be best to move to a house with a smaller yard and less upkeep, so she would have time to dedicate to her calling. That house used to be a duplex, and it had a huge attic. Our cats loved running up all the stairs and around the attic and back down and back up again. (I'll talk about all our pets in a future post). We moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, when I was 16, and lived there until I was 17, when I went to college and my family moved to Iowa. If you're keeping track, we've lived in all of the "I" states. I went to BYU for my undergraduate, and I visited my family for at least a couple weeks each summer and for Christmas. I think that pretty much concludes the growing up years. 

Life story questions!

Family history is super important, but it's sometimes hard to know where to start. For me, I mostly focus on indexing and writing my own story. Today I found this article with some ideas about what we can write about when we're starting our personal histories. Why do personal histories matter? Well, someday our descendants will be trying to do family history, and wouldn't you like it if your ancestors had written things down for you to find? In my next post, I'll start answering the questions, and by this time next year, more or less, I should have a significant personal history. Here's the list of questions that I found on FamilySearch if you'd like to use them:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thoughts on shootings

So, when I think of the shootings that have taken place, I think of the suffering of the people and their families. I don't know why these things happen, but I do believe that someday, all losses will be made up. In the Book of Mormon, one of the most difficult chapters for me is Alma 14, where a group of people are killed for their beliefs. Verse ten reads, "And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children [the men had been exiled from the city] who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene?" Amulek wants terribly to put a stop to the suffering. He and Alma are tied up and forced to watch. It's horrible, and there's a distinct possibility that Amulek's wife and children are with the rest of the group that's being tortured. But they can't do anything. Alma tells Amulek, "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of theinnocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day." That's HARD. I don't completely understand it. But I trust that God loves His children and that justice will be done in the end. 
I believe in the value of life. Our society has somehow come to believe that these tragedies are normal, that they just "happen." I don't know what to do to make them stop. Maybe we can't. But we should try. Right now, though, we should remember the victims and keep their families in our thoughts. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Education and Social Commitment

I looked for cool pictures of books and the google image search
led me to this cool blog post on reading books by women writers.
I've been thinking about the point of education and academia. I love what I do, most of the time, and my goal is to teach other people to read and write and think. And I've come to feel that although literature and cultural studies are valuable in and of themselves, one of their most important functions in our increasingly connected global society is to teach people empathy. Being able to feel what those outside of our own circles of experience feel helps people think of people as fellow humans, rather than "others" who don't matter to us. This can also help us overcome careless generalizations. The very act of reading and trying to figure out what is happening in a story trains our brains to think empathetically That's what my MA thesis deals with, in a general sense: breaking the divide between normatively separate groups of people.