A Reminder of the Importance of Words

Winter break is always such a magical time… from celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior to being able to enjoy quality time with family and friends, every moment is precious and treasured. Having the opportunity to see all of my sisters, meet my new baby cousin (Myles Jole), making candles with one of my best friends from back home, and then getting to travel to Josh’s home to visit with him and his family and friends, it was a very blessed time.

Long before winter leave, Josh had asked me if there was anything in particular that I wanted to do during the time I was with him and his family in Maryland. Besides spending time with all of them, obviously, I suggested a day trip to Washington D.C. being that it was less than two hours away. Josh agreed and did his research, booking us tickets at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the heart of D.C. Josh had been there before, but I had never heard of it; however, the Newseum ended up being one of the coolest museums I have ever been to.

Just a few of the exhibits that Josh and I were able to experience on this visit to the Newseum:

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Berlin Wall (West Germany side… East Germany side was vacant of color and life)

Let’s just say that Josh and I agreed that since we (a.k.a. he) paid approximately $20 each for our tickets, we felt obligated to spend a minimum of two hours in there. Needless to say, we spent almost four hours in the Newseum! I was completely and totally captivated. From seeing how many countries in the world had free right to speech and press, some freedoms, and others that were highly restricted to sifting through the database of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs and their accompanying pieces to build that year’s story, I was enthralled (and very grateful to Josh for his patience as I studied every detail meticulously).

You might be wondering, where is she going with this? I know, I know… it sounds like I was just trying to pitch the Newseum to you. That was not my intent, even though I do highly recommend it if you are in the D.C. area, this blog is inspired by my reignited passion that I found from this museum. A funny conversation that Josh and I had after the museum went along the lines of me asking him if he would ever want to do something like that, and his response was “absolutely not, but I could see you were inspired.” And it was kind of true, any time I go to a place where I can see other people’s passions, it makes me want to take them on, too. I recognize now that I do not necessarily want to be a news reporter; however, there are so many places in this world restricted in what they can say and publish, but not here. Because I do have a passion for writing, I have a new idea for how I can use what I learned at the Newseum in a project at West Point (more to come later).

One of the craziest things that I saw as Josh and I were walking through the years of News History, was the newspaper from 1925: The Scopes Trial.

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Scopes Trial

Now, not even 100 years later, it is 100% illegal to teach creationism in schools. Public schools may teach about religion but not teach religion. John Scopes, tried and found guilty for teaching evolution instead of creationism, would be the standard teacher in America today. What if a teacher taught creationism as fact today? Gee whiz… that teacher would be fired and sued so fast…

I’ve been following the recent news on Facebook in my hometown of a teacher at my elementary school praying with her students. A lot of people (who are not teachers) were in shock that such a thing could happen, she was just being the sweet, Christian lady that everyone has known and loved for years and years; however, most teachers that were commenting were saying that it would have been fine for her to pray for  her students but not with her students. They posed questions like “what if it had been a teacher praying Muslim or satanic prayers? Should we allow that, too?” Of course there were plenty of arguments for both sides with very little neutrality from anyone, yet I couldn’t help but form my own opinion.

(Also, complete sidebar: “what if’s…” are terrible means of an argument. One cannot judge a situation based on the extremes of ‘what if’s…’ because ‘what if aliens took over the world?, what if someone poisoned all the cookies?, what if…?’ We do not play the what if game because THOSE THINGS DID NOT HAPPEN. Sidebar complete)

When I first saw it, I was stunned like anyone. Coming from a town lacking in diversity in many senses, religion being one given that most people in the town will call themselves Christian, active in their faith or not, I was saddened. When I saw the arguments for her being in the wrong because of the “what if’s…” of other religions or bad influences, I thought that those opinions were correct. So I pondered whether this teacher was really wrong. Looking at the written law by American people, yes this teacher was wrong. However, let us consider that MAYBE (just maybe) humans do not always get it right. Think about how fast the law has changed just in the last 100 years, and why? Is it because people that are living in sin do not want to admit they are living in sin or admit that God’s law is the law to live by? Just something to consider!

John 15:18-25 is title The World Hates the Disciples, and is an interesting passage to work through. To begin, verses 18 and 19 read:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…”

If we consider that teacher’s actions of praying with her students, yes, she was technically wrong. She deserves to be fired and maybe face further punishment. That is what she deserves as the law and rules of the world would have it. So what? So what that she gets fired? So what that she faces further charges? If these worldly things matter to her, then I sympathize with the loss of her worldly status. Galatians 1:10 tells:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Now, I am not saying that everyone should go around forcing their religion on people, but if they are trying to live in purity and accordance with the word of God, I, personally, am a fan of that. Going back to John 15, verses 11-13 read:

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

If that doesn’t shed any light on this situation, let us try Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Even though this teacher may have been suspended or even fired (maybe neither, I do not know the outcome of the situation), she was acting in accordance with what has been laid out to her in the Bible, the holy, untainted word of God. So what that she may have lost earthly possessions and treasures? Her reward in the kingdom of heaven is far greater than any of those things.

Like always though, this is a personal opinion, one of which you do not have to agree. This tangent was inspired by my Newseum trip as a renewed sense of freedom of speech and ideas that are afforded to us as Americans. A privilege that people all over the world are not granted.

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Josh looking at News History

Transitioning to what I alluded to at the beginning of this post, a new project at West Point, I want to take advantage of the inspiration that the Newseum gave me. If you look at the picture below, you will see the room in the Newseum of Pulitzer Prize winning photography. Each of the photographs that won depict certain characteristics: danger, controversy, fear, survival. The photographs tell a story that most people around the world would ever know about if it had not been the bravery and talent of these photographers.

My project idea is not dangerous nor anywhere near as brilliant as those of the Pulitzer Prize Winners, but I hope it is thought-provoking nonetheless. 1976 was the first time that the United States Military Academy started admitting females. Similar to other minority populations, women faced much harassment and ridicule for years as their male counterparts finally started accepting them.

Since first accepting females at the Academy to now, people have expanded their views to accepting and encouraging female cadets to push themselves and strive for excellence. From First Captains to scholarship recipients, female cadets continue to raise the bars and expectations, just as women as a whole in the Army are doing. On paper, female cadets are afforded all of the same opportunities as male cadets, but is that really the case?

Inspired by Newseum’s stories of reporters reporting on controversial issues while exercising their right to the freedom of speech and press to make other’s voices heard, my next several blogs will be an interview series of female cadets and officers giving their opinions, explaining their observations, and telling their stories on this topic. The good and the bad, the awesome and the ugly, and everything in between! Stay tuned…

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Photography

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