The Buck Stops Where?

Oh how the Fox News and the CNNs so perfectly capture our current political environment. “Harsh tone, divisive rhetoric, partisanship.”  Sound familiar?  If you’ve scrolled Twitter, watched the news, really – if you have a pulse – you’ve probably heard these catchphrases thrown around.

So maybe the pundits could diversify their vocabulary, but the truth is, they are absolutely correct. Right now, we have a president who embraces his platform by coughing up hairballs of complete nonsense, whether spewing Twitter conspiracies or lashing out against anyone bold enough to disagree with him.  We witnessed the aftermath of a horrific act of violence, one in which a disturbed liberal man fired mercilessly at Congressional Republicans at a baseball practice, nearly killing one.  We heard the inexplicable innocent verdict for a police officer who shot a black man seven times, killing him in front of his girlfriend and daughter.  And we felt – and continue to feel – the tension between misogynistic “Make America Great Again” hat-bearers and irritable, “march-in-the-name-of-anything” protestors.  This landscape is far beyond the politically-correct “divisive, harsh rhetoric.”

I’m not a writer or a historian, so bear with me for a moment. But I thought back to the saying, “the buck stops here.” Soliciting some help from Google, I recalled that this was a favorite of President Harry Truman.  Truman, it turns out, was so fond of it that he had the text inscribed on a plaque and placed on his desk.  Embodying “the buck stops here,” means taking full accountability.  I can’t speak to Truman’s effectiveness as a president (I can assuredly say he never tweeted insults at his predecessor) but I can appreciate what he stood for in this mantra.  Truman was big enough to hold himself accountable for decisions and accept responsibility for outcomes.

See, this got me thinking about our current state of complete disarray. To imply that there is a sole person responsible for this debauchery would be insane.  We’re human.  We live in constant exposure to evil.  So the proverbial buck needs to fall on about seven billion shoulders.  14 billion shoulders, really.  But there are a few positions of power in which, in my view, should really take – rather, embrace – responsibility.  That could really hold themselves to a standard of bringing about unity, of bringing about peace.  And this man sits in the same office as Harry Truman once did.

Now if you have a Twitter account, look at some of the president’s recent tweets. Common threads include, but are not limited to (prompt speedy telemarketer voice): Hillary’s poor performance, Hillary’s emails, Hillary’s ‘collusion’ with the DNC, Obama’s lack of integrity, FAILING Obamacare, the “Obstructionist” Democrats causing setbacks, the witch hunt that targets only Trump, the need for a real TRAVEL BAN, how good he is at winning, how fake news is the enemy, and just about anything else negative.  Someone with such an HONOR, with such an OPPORTUNITY to reach millions of people is openly mocking United States Senators on a social media account.

So my question is this. Why doesn’t the buck stop at the president’s desk?  Why does he insist on the bitching and the bragging, rallying his supporters and riling up his critics?  Imagine for a second if Trump tweeted about his desire for a unified America.  Imagine watching him say that he cares for the poor, for those without healthcare or fearing losing their healthcare, for the unborn, for women’s rights, for minority lives, for refugee safety, for the middle class, for the LGBT community, for ALL HUMAN LIFE.  Imagine scanning @realDonaldTrump and seeing something comforting like, “hey – I’m going to fight for you.  I want to bring us together.  Every human has dignity and deserves to be treated accordingly.”  Imagine the most influential person in the United States of America taking accountability for some of the maliciousness that has spread like a virus through every crevice of our nation.  Imagine.

Again yet we wait. And sides grow further apart as they continue to tear at each other’s throats.  We the people need to do our part to settle the disagreements and to see eye to eye.  But Mr. President, it’s time to cut the bullshit.  Time to stop mocking those with whom you disagree.  It’s time to step up, and not just say but show us that the buck really does stop at the president’s desk.  And then, MAYBE then, we can start to make this country truly great.


Note: All opinions expressed in this commentary are solely my own, and they are just that. They are not to be treated as facts, nor as alternative facts.


Made for Greatness

I think voting in the presidential election is the least impactful thing you can do to effect change. Casting your vote does not make our country great, regardless of your vote.  I’m not saying I don’t think everyone who can should vote, because I do.  But let me explain.

First, I did not vote for Donald Trump. I can spell out myriad reasons behind this, but let me use his verbal assault on Muslims and immigrants in general to help paint my example.  When President Trump initiated the controversial “travel ban,” I reacted like many Americans across the country.  I was pissed off.  I was upset.  I felt like our country was gravitating towards a position of complete apathy towards those people suffering in the Muslim-majority nations, viewed by the administration as possible terror threats.  Granted, I did not know a whole lot about the ban in terms of background. My knowledge of the conditions of these countries was limited to a number of high-profile photographs of children in Aleppo, stranded in a sea of rubble, and often wounded.  Nonetheless, my heart poured out for these citizens who were to be denied access to the United States.  The only vindication came after thousands of noble Americans swarmed U.S. airports in protest and a federal judge blocked the ban.

A bullet dodged. Still, my blood boiled with anger over the merciless acts of the United States government. How, I thought, can we turn our backs while people are greatly suffering, in the name of protecting our own people? Was America not built on the principles of welcoming and compassion towards others? This act of aggression perplexed me.  But I knew I was not alone.  Days after the travel ban order passed, I watched television coverage of thousands of protestors speaking against the ban across the country.

And then I had a thought.

The seven war-torn countries that made up the ban list all had something in common. They were viewed as threats because of terror attacks, both domestically and abroad, committed against countless innocent civilians.  Moreover, these countries suffered government corruption, extreme poverty, internal warring, and tremendously poor living conditions.  Naturally, it felt right to feel sympathy towards the citizens of these tormented countries.  But then it hit me. These conditions did not begin yesterday.

Nor did they begin last week, last month, or last year. These are countries which have been facing extreme conditions for a long time.  For me to take notice only when a president I don’t care for blocks refugees is absurd.  Was this about my love for refugees or my disdain towards the president?

I dug through bank statements. Clothing, drinks, dinner, groceries, more drinks, more dinners.  Not one penny to a global relief organization.  UNICEF, the Red Cross, and other relief agencies did not even have my name or information in their databases.  I thought back to my interaction with others.  Not once did I think to stop by a refugee center to help.  Not once did I reach out to see how I can help those struggling in our community, refugee or not.  I had even quoted Scripture on my Facebook page, from Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  I beamed with pride; it was a subtle criticism of the current administration (and its supporters), and a reminder of my love for all these “brothers and sisters.”  But I read and re-read the passage from a different angle; I looked at Trump’s actions versus my own.  How did I show my love for human dignity abroad?  Moreover, how did I show love for human dignity in the United States?  In my own Central Pennsylvania community?

My answers were consistent across the board: resounding inaction. I was so caught up in the Trump administration’s hatred that I had forgotten about my own potential for greatness.  I treated the least of my brothers and sisters exactly the way Trump treated refugees in dire need: with blatant ignorance.  I walked around with my head down or on my phone, poring over the injustices of the world.  In doing so, I bypassed the homeless man who was down on his luck, the family in need of a meal, and the community organization seeking financial assistance.

Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change his or her own community. I can’t help but think that if every protestor, if every voter, if every human being with means reached out a hand to help someone else, we would be so much stronger as a nation.  I’ll be the first to call myself a hypocrite.  But I hope this epiphany leads me to move to make a difference.  It can be tough, it can be uncomfortable, but it is an absolute necessity.  Pope Benedict XVI once said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” We can all be great, but we need to divorce ourselves from the comfort of our computer screens.  Maybe we can’t reverse a presidential decision, maybe we can’t end world hunger.  But we can start.  We can help our neighbor.  We can lift up our brothers and sisters in our community.  And we, you and I, can start making a real change in the world.  It can be uncomfortable.  It can be incremental.  But it can be great.  And the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t need to wait until the next local, state, or presidential election.  It can start today.

The Impact of being “Just Friends” on a Young Adult

Most everyone with a pulse has at one time or another been on the receiving end of the “just friends” conversation. It sucks.  Really sucks.  And it leads us to overthinking, self-doubting, and, more than anything, discouragement.  We want to feel wanted.  We want to be affirmed that we are attractive enough, funny enough, smart enough, and genuine enough.  We want to be enough.

If you ask my college friends about my romantic encounters, they will probably unabashedly tell you that I had mastered the art of getting “friend zoned (the official title for a male and female who will never enter into relationship, but will, you know, totally stay friends).” My school was small and intimate – it had almost a high school feel to it.  On campus, many sports teams and friend groups overlapped, which meant that it was incredibly easy to make new friends and develop new crushes.  And many times I failed in my efforts to enter into a new relationship.  Fortunately, however, because of the amicable environment, I ended up staying friends with former crushes, shortly after allowing my bruised ego to heal.  This was a staple of Saint Vincent College.  It was a part of what made my school experience so great.

I moved to a new city after graduation, and young women in my demographic were suddenly incredibly difficult to come by. Since moving almost three years ago, I have been on a handful of dates and have developed a few relationships, some of which had more substance than others.  All ended fairly similarly to my college encounters, though, something to the tune of, “I still want to stay friends.”  But that’s where the similarities end.

See, I had grown familiar with this conversation. Hell, I’d made so many visits to the friend zone I kept a spare toothbrush there.  But in my new town, there was such a grave disconnect.  It was almost as though the phrase “staying friends” took on an entirely new meaning.  In school, “just friends” meant you would largely remain acquaintances, albeit through necessity.  I was surrounded by peers, and always had a great network of love and support.  Even girls who expressed their desire to be just friends would still go out of their way to be friendly to me.  Additionally, there were so many similar-aged girls in similar positions who had interests similar to mine.  If one relationship did not come to fruition, there was a good chance that you were a hallway, a classroom, or a dorm’s distance away from a fresh start, a new prospect.

Not only have I been stripped of this opportunity, but the dating landscape has completely changed. Rather, the post-dating landscape has changed.  It is certainly not because my companions in the last three years have not been kind, compassionate, genuine individuals.  That aspect is no different from school.  What is different is the fact that I have transitioned from 1 degree of separation to a million.  When meeting new people, it always seems to come out of left field.  My encounters have been with store employees, graduate classmates, and a rare bar conversationalist; I have to make a very deliberate, concerted effort to meet girls whereas in school it was so natural.

Meeting people this way isn’t entirely bad, but it’s tough to rebuild bridges after a failed relationship because, usually, no bridges existed in the first place. This leaves a few undesirable options.  You can still hang out with one another in group capacities, but when you have no mutual friends, it’s tough to bring someone around and risk speculation.  Inversely, spending one-on-one time is a tough call to initiate, because implications still linger when a guy and girl are spending time together in any capacity.

So usually the best way to get the point across is unfailing avoidance. It may not be the ideal for either party, but seems to be the natural progression.  We get on with our lives. We continue to pursue career, social, and relational objectives on our own.

So in spite of my complaint-riddled thesis, I want to draw a positive blueprint for moving forward – for myself and for anyone else who has experienced this struggle. My conclusion is this: as a young adult, the best path to carve is to create large social circles, and let things happen naturally. It’s frustrating, because making friends in the real world is much more difficult; but to say “just friends” and to mean “just friends” can lead to greater outcomes, no matter how many degrees of separation.


Stop Booing Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has dominated the media, dating back to the Preseason when he decided to sit for the National Anthem, and later kneel. Kaepernick has continued his stance (or lack thereof), saying that he is “Not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  Weeks later, he remains in the spotlight, saying that he refused to vote and then defending oppressive former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his education policies. Many people appreciate Kaepernick for igniting the conversation about race relations and using his platform as a professional athlete to peacefully speak up.  Many others are showering him with boos at games, chastising him on social media, and voicing their hatred for him at the office watercooler.  Whether you love him or hate him, one thing is certain; everyone who has a pulse has heard the name Colin Kaepernick.

But I want to talk about Josh Brown. Have you heard the name Josh Brown?  If you haven’t, don’t worry.  You aren’t alone.

Josh Brown is a former NFL player, recently released from the New York Giants after admitting that he has physically harmed his wife upwards of twenty times. Twenty.  Are you pissed off yet?  Are you ready to berate him on social media, share villainizing memes, and call the NFL on its lax domestic abuse policies? But wait – there’s a kicker.

All of these events unfolded almost three months ago. Well, longer if you consider the fact that he wrote a letter to his friends in 2014 detailing the abuse, was arrested in 2015, served a damning one-game suspension at the hands of the wonderfully consistent NFL regime, and was re-signed by the Giants in a $4 million deal over the offseason.  The news, social media, water cooler conversations should be all over these brutal inconsistencies, right?  Well, let’s consider one more piece.

Josh Brown is white.

Look, it may not be the only reason that this story has been brushed aside, as there are myriad other significant issues plaguing our country today. At the same time, though, I’m perplexed at how people continually mock the 49ers quarterback, sharing memes and offering hate-filled comments, but have remained silent about a domestic abuser and a team and league that knowingly protected him.

One issue I have is best captured by the title of the USA Today’s Nancy Armour: “Josh Brown admitted to beating wife, and NFL barely cares.” This is the same old song and dance.  The NFL and New York Giants organization tag-teamed the mishandling of the situation, claiming they were gathering more evidence, even as they levied the one-game ban.  Armour is right.  The NFL cares about women when it is profitable.  When October ends and the pink gear goes away, the league shifts its focus to making money.  Actually, I’m lying.  It never shifts its focus to begin with.

What really reeks of hypocrisy to me is the position of many people – largely a conservative, Trump-worshipping demographic – when it comes to these two athletes. Our charismatic President-elect, the “Law and Order” candidate, won a particularly divisive election using some very strong racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric.  I’ve heard many people defend him in spite of, or even for, this dialogue.  One of the most oft-repeated defenses is such: “They are just words.  Hillary’s actions have been much worse.  Benghazi.  Emails.  Trump just isn’t politically correct.  He says what’s on his mind.”  They’re just words.  Should we not, then, assess NFL athletes by the same platforms?  No, I do not agree with all of Colin Kaepernick’s statements, especially not a defense of Fidel Castro.  But these are words, and he is peacefully speaking out in protest of real social injustices using that same platform.

Inversely, let’s talk about actions. Actions like treating your wife as your personal slave.  Actions like repeated physical abuse.  Actions like John Mara, the Giants owner, knowing that Josh Brown had harmed his wife and dishing out a lucrative deal in spite of that.  (None of these is protected under the Constitution to my knowledge).  And I cannot help but think that maybe, just maybe, the NFL, ESPN, the mainstream media might not want to risk one of its white players slammed throughout the media.  The NFL has a shield to protect, and a white audience shoulders almost 85% of that very shield. I have yet to see a single internet meme that calls out Brown or the Giants organization.  I have yet to hear colleagues talk about the sinister nature of these abuse accounts.  I have yet to see a major news station run a detailed report, less a discreet link on the ESPN website that took some scrolling to find.  Is it fathomable that these sources might want to confine the reporting on Josh Brown to reduce the risk of this backlash?  Is it possible that the networks don’t want to offend or lose their beloved white viewership?

I understand that my article poses more questions than answers. But I think this case needs to be brought to light.  I believe in the power of forgiveness and second chances.  I believe Josh Brown, just as Colin Kaepernick and Ray Rice and Michael Vick, deserve a chance to rehabilitate their images and find forgiveness in the public eye.  My intent is not to villainize Josh Brown; I just believe that societally we need to shift our way of thinking when it comes to professional athletes.  If Ray Rice’s elevator footage can make the front cover of Sports Illustrated, Colin Kaepernick can get plastered over derogatory internet memes, and Richard Sherman can be labeled a thug for some strongly-worded interviews, how should Josh Brown be treated?  We are fortunate to have rights afforded us by the First Amendment.  And we are firmly protected by these rights.  So I encourage you, boo, mock, tweet, post away.  Boo Colin Kaepernick.  You’re allowed.  But at the end of the day, remember this: they’re just words.

Sharing is not Daring

Let’s talk about millennials. Sure, we can’t paint an entire generation with a broad brush.  Some are deeply conservative, some deeply liberal.  Some are traditional, others much more progressive.  But we have some things in common.  We want to get involved in the political discussion.  We are full of energy.  We are highly tech-savvy.  And we, much like the generation prior, want to become agents of change.  We want to make our voices heard.  There is one unavoidable certainty: we are getting older.  And one day this country will be ours.

We want our voices to be heard. And who doesn’t?  We have opinions, just as Gen-Xers have opinions, just as the generation before them and so on and so forth.  The right to have, to express, and to debate opinions is a privilege afforded us by our founding fathers.  It’s a beautiful privilege.  And just as much as peoples’ opinions have outraged and puzzled me, they have shown me new perspectives and opened new doors in developing the way I think about issues.

Social media has opened up a new twist on sharing opinions, and it starts, quite literally, with the Share button. Websites of all natures, from network news stations like CNN and Fox to the Huffington Post, serve up buffets of biased articles, all for the immediate consumption of their many subscribers.  Additionally, sites like “Conservative Daily” and “Occupy Democrats” offer an assortment of articles, infographics, and memes for their single-minded consumers.  Herein lies the abomination of free thought.  When reading posts and seeing pictures, most of which are distorted in the interest of the author, readers have the option of the “easy button,” which allows them to share these articles with their followers without offering a word of their own thoughts.  The sharers are commonly repeat offenders who – just as they have their own fan base – rarely face disagreements or disputes.  Just like in the articles themselves, the sharers usually enjoy a comment section filled with dialogue supporting their stance and rarely opening up the floor for debate.

I don’t have a huge problem with these articles, despite their bias. Most are politically left or right, depending on the author’s vantage point, and I accept that.  And most do use facts (however distorted) to back up their opinions.  Also appropriate. After all, a large part of free speech is the ability to express one’s opinion; it’s the same reason newspapers have an “Editorial” section.

My problem is with the online world which social media users, many of whom are millennials, have created. Facebook transitioned from a playground of engagements and accomplishments to a landfill of political propaganda.  It has stripped us of our opinions because we are so busy sharing the opinions of others, and receiving back pats from our fellow followers.  Serious thought gives way to headlines and teasers, beckoning me to take the bait and I click.  I’m guilty.  But I can’t help but think there is a better way.  I want to read the thoughts and the revelations of my fellow millennials.  I want to know why people are voting or abstaining, how people feel about the system, what people think about the biggest domestic and foreign issues.  I want to know the issues and where the candidates stand, and instead get an overload of dirty laundry and scandals. When I read a shared article that bluntly exposes someone’s opinion – without a word of their own – I gain nothing.  Not only do I learn nothing, but I become turned off to this person’s position on politics and other issues because they are hiding behind a wall of aggressive rhetoric. We can brush this off by saying, “That’s just politics.”  But does it have to be?

It is worth noting that, in my opinion, in-person dialogue is still the most preferential form of political discourse. My displeasure towards sharing articles versus posting one’s own opinion is more of a “lesser of two evils” argument.  But we live in a world where the internet is a dominant force, especially in the spread of current events, and I use and overuse the internet.  I’m excited about the future, but I know that change is necessary.  I want thoughtful, progressive dialogue about politics and about controversial topics in America and around our world.  And we millennials will be a majority one day, and will have the means to change at our fingertips.  At our fingertips we also have the share button.  Let’s make the right choice.

You’re Talking to Me?

I always felt bad for those people.  You know, “those people.” The ones whose anxiety and depression struggles were publicized.  The people who had stories written about them on Facebook, detailing their years of struggle with nobody to turn to.  The people who were so mentally unstable that they had to see therapists.  The people who were embarrassed or ashamed of their internal psychological struggle.  In my life I struggled to relate, never having to resort to exercise or meditation just to maintain stability, never feeling so ashamed of something that I couldn’t voice it to others around me.  I counted myself lucky as someone who, despite infrequent bouts of nerves or slight depression, would never be considered to be one of “those people.”

After all, my “infrequent bouts” were few and far between.  Sure, I went to the nurse’s office every day for two weeks straight in the second grade because of an upcoming spelling bee.  I also spent many tearful nights over a college decision my senior year because I so badly struggled with separation from my family and a girlfriend at the time.  And yes, I was known to throw up out of fear before some important cross-country meets during my college years, to the point which I had to start occasionally seeing a counselor.  But even in these severe cases, I quickly reestablished my quality of life and returned to normal form.

Then recently, something happened.  I’m not exactly sure what.  I started having these panic attacks – so minor that no one needed to know.  I would throw up in a bathroom stall at the airport before a flight, or hit a spell of uncontrollable breathing before a big presentation.  Again, these were minor episodes – hardly anything that would liken me to “those people.”  These were minor hiccups in an otherwise normal routine.

Obviously, I internalized all of this.  Thing is, nobody would quite understand what was going on.  I had established a reputation for being the extroverted jokester of the office or social gathering, and I was not one to let on to any signs of concern or self-doubt.  It was better that I was not speaking to anybody about the feelings, so I would not tarnish this reputation.  I knew how people would react if I shared my struggle – they would certainly not believe me, and quite possibly berate me for it.  It’s not that I was embarrassed or ashamed.  I just didn’t need anyone’s help and I certainly didn’t need anyone’s sympathy.

So it got worse.  The panic “attacks” began to wage all-out war.  Tension burned in my body for days, as I awaited insurmountable tasks.  Thing is, these tasks were not insurmountable to the naked eye.  Sure, my anxiety flared up when I had an upcoming presentation at work or an exam in my class.  But these outliers gave way to minor everyday tasks.  I found that I had to mentally prepare myself just to take out the trash, read a chapter of a book, or do the dishes.  Most nights I wasn’t even up to the challenge that these chores presented.  It was an inexplicable, painless torture that gripped me from all angles internally while forcing me to look externally unblemished.  People at work saw my clean-shaven face, my gelled hair, and my color-coordinated clothing, but had no idea how much blood, sweat and tears had gone into these efforts.  I had a girl whom I was trying to impress which kept me stable, but as she moved on, my struggles rooted deeper.  I was on my own in a city far away from home.  To say I had no one was entirely untrue, but I felt painstakingly alone.

Then one Friday I hit a low point.  This was odd, because it started out on a particularly high note.  I ate breakfast with some co-workers, and spent it laughing and joking around though hardly touching my food.  As I walked through the office later, I greeted each passing co-worker with a friendly hello as my heart began pounding faster and faster.  I cracked up at a story my boss told as I began to feel silently and uncontrollably nauseated.  My world began to fade.  Colors blurred together, voices blurred together, my thoughts raced.  I feared eating lunch.  I feared the weekend.  I feared for the rest of my life.  I sprinted home over lunch and called my mother, breaking into pieces as she answered the phone.  Through muffled sobs, I expressed to her a realization just coming over me in that very moment.  I am not okay. I am one of those people.

I am one of those people.

The Facebook articles, the mental health magazines, the relaxation techniques, the therapists, they are all reaching out to people of my condition. They are reaching out to me. There was a moment in my suffering, and in my desperation call, in which I accepted for the first time that I suffer from a mental illness.  An illness.  All my life I’ve convinced myself and those around me that I am perfectly normal.  And I am normal in many regards.  I am a college graduate, I live in an apartment in a beautiful Central Pennsylvanian town, and I have a great job.  I also suffer from anxiety and depression.  And with the number of Americans affected by mental illnesses, even this distinction is not so abnormal.

The most important realization that I made was not that I have a true mental illness.  That was a big step, sure, but it was not the most important one.  The most important realization that I made was that having a mental illness is OK.  That it’s not my fault.  I had spent a long time silently condemning myself for being weak and helpless.  Truth is, I was embarrassed about it.  I still am embarrassed about it.

But I’m not weak and I’m not helpless.  For so long, I was stubborn about receiving help because I thought that seeking help affirmed the stigma that anxiety and depression are for weak people who can’t handle stress on their own.  This is so far from the truth.  I’m now seeking help, and I visit a therapist on an almost weekly basis.  I sometimes break down and have to call my parents or my close friends just to get some burdens off my chest.  I’m reading books about anxiety.  I’m exercising regularly (or trying to).  My hope is that those reading can learn from my story.  For those who do not struggle with mental illnesses, I hope this helps you to better understand the secret battle we have to fight, and realize that I can be at my worst when I appear to be at my best.  I don’t want to be treated any differently, I just want to be understood when I have to cancel on plans or step outside of the room before giving a speech.  For those who are battling some type of mental illness, any type of illness, I implore you to join me in the recovery process.  First, know that you are not alone.  It can happen to anyone (which I neglected to believe until it happened to me).  Talk to someone about it.  Tell me your story – I’d love to listen.  Seek a counselor and see them regularly.  Read up on healthy habits and tips for alleviating some of the difficulty.  Pray about it.  And most importantly, open yourself up to taking the first step of admittance and acceptance.  Because some day you might look up and realize that you’re one of those people too.  And that is perfectly OK.