Growing Up In The Age Of Terror

With every terrorist attack, every mass shooting, every racist comment, I become indignant. I curse the malevolent forces that attack innocent people. I curse the organizations that carry out such evil acts. I chime in with vapid expressions like “there’s something wrong with Islam,” “we need stronger gun laws” and “#blacklivesmatter.” But as time passes and history repeats itself again and again, I begin to lose hope.

Why does my opinion matter? I grew up in a wealthy, suburban, predominately-white town 30 minutes north of New York City. I grew up in this terror-filled world. I don’t know what I could do about it, but I would like it to stop.

One of my first memories was September 11, 2001. My preschool, St. Elizabeth, was a block away from the World Trade Center. I was just like any other four year old in preschool, playing house and listening to my teacher read from picture books while sitting criss-crossed on an alphabet rug when all of a sudden, my teacher was panicking, crying, and ushering us out the door to the basement of the school. She could barely form words. She did her best to explain what was happening to a group of adorable, goofy, doe-eyed four year olds.

I was too young to understand what was happening at the time. My mom, who worked at Credit Suisse at 23rd and Madison, went through hell and back to pick me up and get me home safely. At the time, I lived across the George Washington Bridge in Jersey City, New Jersey. Since all public transportation was shut down that day, the only way I could get home was to walk. So we did. I ultimately got home at 10 PM.

I recall clearly how many adults cried that day. But there wasn’t much us 4-year-olds could do. We would build towers out of blocks, and knock them down, replaying the incident over and over again. The TV screen lit up in orange. Screams, cries, and gunshots emanated from the speakers. The bad guys in the stories I was told as a kid weren’t witches or evil monarchs; they were scrawny, bearded, turban-wearing Muslims.

As I grew up, I grew desensitized to terror. Sandy Hook Elementary School was just an hour away from my hometown of Scarsdale, New York. I was a high school sophomore. A few years later, I am watching Anderson Cooper endlessly reporting on the barbarity that is crippling Europe. I find myself at another loss, but I am not hopeless. Contrarily, I am a wishful thinking millennial. All my life, I have been silently witnessing these events unfold, getting more horrific each time. I have learned to expect these distressing events. I can no longer just sit back and watch the hysteria unfold.

I don’t see the point in tweeting a trite hashtag, instagramming a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Belgian flag, changing the filter on my profile picture, or sending my “prayers” to the victims’ families. These events happen time and time again, and we “come together” in solidarity for a few hours, then go back to our daily lives, unscathed. We don’t have the ability to feel empathy without a palpable connection to these events.

I’m not sure where all this hatred came from. I’ve watched us fight hatred with hatred and I’ve watched us do nothing. Neither works. We need to learn how to empathize with people who grew up in very different world. A world where the odds were against them. A world that attacked their families and made them vengeful.

We are also spiteful. We’ve been attacked. We’ve grown up in fear. But we don’t see friends and family killed instantly in front of us. We are not threatened with death based on our personal opinions. We don’t know what that feels like, remotely. So how are we supposed to respond?

We evoke terror to fight terrorism and claim it’s justified. But that’s just like fighting fire with fire. When a white man pulls out a gun and kills innocent people for no reason, we call this terror mental illness. How many more innocent people have to die before we realize this?

 

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The Health Benefits Of Having A Dog

Your dog is there when you’ve had a rough day, when you want to take a walk outside, or when you just want to netflix and chill. Sure, he or she will sometimes pee on your carpet or try to eat your socks and shoes, but your dog will always be your best friend.

Did you know your furry best friend also comes with health benefits? They can boost your immunity, lower your blood pressure, lessen anxiety, are good for the heart, and even help you get dates. Here are 5 amazing health benefits your dog can give you:

Immunity boosters

People used to think if you had a pet in the house, the children would become more allergic to the pet, and if you came from an allergy-prone family, you should not even have a dog. However, according to researcher James E. Gern, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with furry animals will have less risk of allergies and asthma. If a dog lived in the home, infants were less likely to be prone to pet allergies — 19% vs. 33%. “Dogs are dirty, and this suggests that babies who have greater exposure to dirt and allergens have a stronger immune system,” Gern told WebMD.

Lower blood pressure

Pet owners with AIDS are far less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. According to researcher Judith Siegel, PhD., the benefit is clearly noticeable when people are strongly attached to their pets (WebMD). In one study, stockbrokers with hypertension who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situation than those without pets (WebMD). Like any enjoyable activity, playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which have pleasure and calming properties.

Less anxiety

Studies show that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a pet in the home. For elderly people, walking a dog or just simply caring for a pet can provide exercise and companionship.

Good for the heart

Heart attack patients who have dogs live longer than those without, according to several studies. Male pet owners have less sign of heart disease and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non owners.

Date magnets

Forget internet dating sites. Dogs are natural conversation starters and even better at making love connections. According to Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, this especially helps ease people out of social awkwardness. “People ask about breed, they watch the dog’s tricks. Sometimes the conversation stays at the ‘dog level’, sometimes it becomes a real social interchange,” Kaslow says.

Taylor Swift Fires At Kanye West

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Taylor Swift used her acceptance speech for Album of the Year at last night’s Grammy Awards to get back at Kanye West. His latest track, “Famous” is about him having sex with Swift, along with his claim that he made “the bitch famous”.

The song’s misogynistic lyrics infuriated Swift. Instead of lashing out at Kanye, she taught the young women in the audience a lesson.

“I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” Swift said while she accepted the award for her album “1989”. “But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world. Thank you for this moment.”

People that like to take credit for your success, accomplishments or fame only do so because they have low self esteem. So when anyone tries to belittle you, don’t let them take you down. It was you and the ones who love you who got you to where you are.

Well deserved, Taylor.

5 Personalities That Came Out On Valentine’s Day This Year

If you’re like most people, you have strong opinions about Valentine’s Day. Whether you believe it’s a scheme cooked up by the candy industry or you have a loving boyfriend who buys you flowers and takes you on a romantic, candlelit dinner date, the following list covers the spectrum of personalities on Valentine’s Day.

The Jealous Skeptic

I literally hate this holiday. Like even if I had a significant other, I’d probably throw up if he wanted to celebrate V-Day. I’m not not happy that I’m single.

The Single, Hopeless Romantic

They really thought they would spend Valentine’s Day with someone this year. But nope. They’re probably most likely to be found drowning their sorrows in bed with tissues and a box of chocolates they bought for themselves.

The Good Friend

This girl chooses to stay home with all her single gal pals, binge on ice cream, and watch romantic comedies because she would never leave her girls on this sensitive day. She’s the girl who instagrams a picture of her and her girlfriends with the caption “happy galentine’s day!”

The Talker

This is your friend who just started talking to a new guy and says they’re “just gonna watch a movie later”. What she really means is “he didn’t ask me on a date but I still want some V-Day lovin’, so I’ll see ya tomorrow!”

The Girl We Love To Hate

She actually has a good boyfriend who buys her flowers, takes her on a date, and swoons her for the entire day. #goals

Review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous.

Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else—her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

That was Rogerson, or so I was learning. He divided the world coolly into black or white, no grays or middle ground. People were either cool or assholes, situations good or bad. My friends, and my life at school, consistently fell into each of the latter. His friends were older, more interesting, and most importantly, not jocks or cheerleaders. When we did go to parties where I’d see Rina or Kelly Brandt or anyone else from the squad, it was always awkward. They’d want me to stay, pulling up a chair, handing over the quarter so I could take a bounce. But Rogerson was always impatient, finishing whatever business he had and heading straight for the door, making it clear he was ready to go.

I know you probably read the summary above and thought: this is just another novel about a lost teenage girl who falls in love with a boy who makes her forget her own life. That’s what I thought initially. But now, I see it as how many contemporary teen relationships are and it is very relatable. If Rogerson had been cool or an asshole (excuse my language), this book would not have been as compelling.