60

FullSizeRenderAbout a year ago my dad started brainstorming what he wanted to do for his 60th birthday, which is today. As his present to himself, we invited really close family friends from home in Athens to the lake house in New Hampshire back in June. Eliza and I basically did dishes for four days straight, but it was so fun. We got to share our most sacred place on Earth with our dearest friends. Now, we are at La Colombe D’or Hotel in St. Paul de Vence with some more very special friends. I say he planned very well.

My father has many amazing qualities. He is generous and determined and loving and will always drop what he’s doing to help someone. And his hair. It’s gorgeous.

Dad, I know that we give you a hard time. We get frustrated that you don’t wear deodorant and that you get really sassy during Scrabble, but I hope you know that we all adore you. You are incredible beyond belief and your passion for things that matter is truly inspiring. I’m so glad your birthday brought this group of exceptional people together. This trip is one for the books, and I hope you know how grateful we all are.

I’m proud to be your daughter. I’m fully aware that my life would be drastically different if Eliza and I were not part of your family, and I thank who ever is in charge every day that we are. Thank you for the adventures and the love and the encouragement. Thank you for talking me down from countless panic attacks and for being supportive and understanding when I couldn’t be anything for myself. I’m proud to call you my dad.

So. Happy birthday, freak. I love you!

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I’ve spent the last few days thinking about us. Not in an “oh someone I can’t name broke my heart” way, but as in people. As in Americans. I think that was has happened over the last couple of days is extremely troubling. I am angry and so so sad. But I’m also completely aware that the only thing I can do is write this. I can’t run for president or change anything alone, but I can write it out and maybe someone will change their position.

About a week ago, I found a YouTube video called “A Petition For Stronger Gun Laws.” It can be found here. It is worth 30 seconds of your time. The Second Amendment was written at a time that is shown in that YouTube video. I find it absurd that nothing has been changed at this point.

Philando Castile was stopped because he had a light out on his car. He reached for his license and the officer shot him. Alton Sterling was pinned down and then shot. They found the weapon later. He wasn’t going to do anything. If anyone feels that they can justify these killings or any form of racism or discrimination then I personally think you need to reevaluate your values. Fear and anger and aggression are not what America stands for. I think that being a cop is one of the bravest things a person can do, but it also gives someone immense power. As we’ve seen, some people do not know how to manage their power.

However, it is also horrible that policemen in Dallas were killed while doing their job at a peaceful protest. More killing of more innocent people will never be the answer. Now people will be afraid to even show up to protests, which is one of the few ways we have to show solidarity across racial and class lines. I am white and therefore pretty privileged in society, but I can try to understand and empathize with everyone and I can work toward and advocate for a society where this discrimination against people of color do not exist. (see here for a really good article called “I Dread What’s Coming. Truly, I do.)

Owning a gun does not connect to your pride. What defines you and your pride is how you treat people and how you act in situations of stress and injustice. Your values define you. Whether or not you keep a pistol in your purse or a shotgun in your truck is up to you, but you are judged by how you use them. Don’t use it if you’re going to abuse it.

Secondly, if you think that Trump is the one to change these laws, I am begging you to look up his position on public education or gun laws or Planned Parenthood. Try to understand why I, and many others, fear that man. For crying out loud, he made fun of a man with a disability and can’t make a coherent sentence to save his life. He speaks in superlatives. I’m sorry if I’m offending people, and Hillary isn’t my first choice either, but she’s a lot safer. Think about what he can do with that much power.

It is really hard to not be afraid. Not for myself, but for my friends and my peers and the guy next to me in the grocery store. It’s time to change something, and yeah I have absolutely no idea how to do that and I don’t know a lot about politics, but I do know voting is up to us. So do it.

Hug your families. Because I can think of many people tonight who wish that they could. Everyone matters. Noli timere.

~ Addie