She was the wind beneath my wings
Before I even knew how to fly.
She kept my feet on the ground
And my eyes toward the sky.
If I have touched your life in any way
I just want you to know,
You have my mother to thank,
For I am but her shadow.
She taught me how to love
And some say, I have her laugh.
Every step forward I took,
I took on her behalf.
Everything I do, I do it for her
Because she gave her life to me.
She gave up her country, her family, her friends
So that I could know, what it meant to be free.
The fear of persecution,
I will never have to know.
For bearing the burden for me,
She is the greatest of heroes.
I may grow up and change the world,
Degrees may decorate my walls,
I may witness beauty few have seen,
And travel to more places than I can recall.
But the joy of loving my mother
Will be the greatest of these things
Because without her sacrifice,
My life would not have wings.
(c) 2012 ksoranna
Personal Note: Other mothers may be great, and wonderful, and loving…but my mother is one of a kind. She left her family, her friends, and her country at the tender age of 15 and joined a resistance movement against the Communist Party. Against all odds and with the help of God’s grace she survived and escaped from starvation, a jungle terrain, enemy capture, and civil warfare to bring me into this world. On foot, she traveled from Vietnam to Thailand and from there, to the Philippines, where we were finally given refugee status by the United States. Thousands shared our journey, but we were part of the only 200 something, who made it.
Scientist used to say that it should have been impossible for a bee to fly and until recently, the bee’s success was a mystery. But the saying goes, that a bee never knew that it wasn’t supposed to fly, so it flew anyways. Like the bee, I never knew the “impossible” because my mother showed me that the “impossible” does not exist. I came to the United States as a refugee, without even a birth certificate to my name. I didn’t even know a word of English when I started Elementary School. I grew up on the lower socio-economic side of town by parents who worked multiple jobs, knew very little English and did not have a high school education. Statistically speaking, I should not have made it very far in life, but my family never believed in statistics…so I graduated high school with honors, became the second Montagnard female to graduate from a four year university and went on to law school. I am currently working in the legal field and serve as an advocate for a non-profit organization that speaks out on human rights issues. Every success I have had, was because my mother believed in me.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and all the other mothers out there. May you also serve as the wind beneath someone’s wings, so that they in turn can become heroes and have the potential to some day change the world.
North Carolina has received national attention because of Amendment 1. There has been soooo much coverage on this matter, that I thought it would be overkill to write a post on it…but since the latest poll data suggests that there are still more Amendment 1 supporters than there are opposers…I figured my 2 cents may actually make a difference. A poll done by Public Policy Polling, on May 1, shows that 55% of people polled still plan to vote in favor of the Amendment, while only 43% plan to vote against it. Another poll done by the Civitas Institute, conducted April 30 through May 2, supports the finding that there are more supporters of the Amendment. They asked register voters, “Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that says: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State?” The responses are as follows:
DEMOCRATIC/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN DEM PRIMARY
48% Total Support
44% Total Oppose
41% Strongly Support
7% Somewhat Support
6% Somewhat Oppose
38% Strongly Oppose
7% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)
1% Refused (DO NOT READ)
REPUBLICAN/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN REP PRIMARY
78% Total Support
15% Total Oppose
72% Strongly Support
7% Somewhat Support
3% Somewhat Oppose
12% Strongly Oppose
6% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)
I truly believe one reason why there are so many supporters is because North Carolina citizens do not understand what supporting this Amendment really entails. On election day, this is how the Amendment will read on your ballot: If this amendment passes then it will have the effect of amending Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution, by adding Section 6. Marriage, which will read as follows: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the ONLY domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
For those of you who didn’t catch it the first time…read it again. “Marriage” is the ONLY “domestic legal union” that shall be valid in the state of NC. So what does a “domestic legal union” really mean?? No one really knows because this is not a legal term and it has not yet been defined…or in other words, the term is vague and overbroad. Litigation over the meaning of this phrase could take YEARS to resolve because it has never been used in any prior NC statutory law or court holdings. In fact, this phrase has never been interpreted in any courts in any other states!! Because this phrase is so unclear, this amendment not only affects same-sex couples, this amendment could also affect any unmarried heterosexual couple as well.
For an amendment that is so unclear…it’s affects could be devastating to NC’s unmarried couples. It could have the effect of invalidating domestic partnership insurance benefits, making domestic violence even more harmful, harm the best interest of a child to unmarried parents, and limiting protections for unmarried couples. It may also have the effect of limiting economic growth to NC, which in turn could affect jobs. And I won’t even go into arguments of discrimination against a minority group or what this could do to the rise of hate crimes against homosexuals.
This amendment could invalidate domestic partnership insurance benefits. Four local governments, the Town of Tarrboro, Town of Chapel Hill, City of Durham, and County of Orange, offers insurance benefits to both same-sex and heterosexual domestic partners and the County of Durham, City of Greensboro and County of Mecklenburg offers insurance benefits to only same-sex couples. Due to the wording in this amendment, the domestic partners benefits could be invalidated and it could prevent future benefits from being given to domestic partners, homosexual or straight.
This amendment could have a huge impact on how the courts view domestic violence.
North Carolina Statute 50B-1, Domestic Violence, states:
- (b) For purposes of this section, the term “personal relationship” means a relationship wherein the parties involved:
- (1) Are current or former spouses;
- (2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
- (3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16;
- (4) Have a child in common;
- (5) Are current or former household members;
- (6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, a dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.
Because the statute affords protections to unmarried couples, you would hope that this will not change if Amendment 1 passes, but if Ohio (which passed a similar amendment) is any indication, then Amendment 1 could limit protections only to victims who had been married to their abusers. It took THREE years before the Ohio Supreme Court decided that their domestic violence protections did not violate their constitutional amendment and before this decision was made, there were about 27 dismissals and reversals of convictions ordered by the lower courts, because the state felt they could not extend domestic violence protections to unmarried victims.
This amendment could harm the best interest of a child conceived by unmarried parents. The Catholic Voice of NC (supporters of Amendment 1), states that the government should be involved in marriage to protect children. In fact, the opposite could happen. If this amendment passes, then a judge may view a same-sex or unmarried couple as having a negative impact on a child and because of this, limit custody, visitation rights and prevent adoptions. And as stated earlier…if unmarried couples lose insurance through their job because of their unmarried status, then this will also mean more children will lose their health insurance benefits.
This amendment limits protections for unmarried couples. Currently, unmarried couples can provide protections for their partner, such as with a power of attorney and a living will. But if Amendment 1 gets passed, then courts could decide that these documents recognize a “domestic legal union” between unmarried couples, which would be considered unconstitutional. This in turn, can invalidate wills, trusts, hospital visitation, and medical decision-making between unmarried couples, as well as same-sex ones.
This amendment could limit economic growth in NC. President Obama, former President Clinton, and Senator Kay Hagan have all urged North Carolinians to vote AGAINST this amendment because it could turn away potential businesses and prevent NC from keeping good business and entrepreneurs in this state. On September 12, 2011, more than 75 CEOs signed a letter asking state officials to not approve this amendment. If this amendment passes, there will be at least 75 unhappy CEOs of companies, who are operating in the state of NC. If they decide to leave NC, the job loss will be devastating.
And I changed my mind…I am going to take up some more of your time and argue that Amendment 1 will also further discriminate against a minority group and justify hate crimes. Because the truth is, some people are going to hate gays the same way they hate blacks or foreigners, etc. but the last thing you want to do is give them a law that is going to support their prejudicial ways. Case in point: NC pastor Sean Harris, who advocates using violence to prevent children from becoming gay…seriously?!
I’m sure this post may not make any difference to some people. But if it informed one person, then it was worth spending 2 hours writing on a Saturday night (#nerdforlife). Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, May 8th!!!!
Please visit these sites for more information (in the order they appear in this post):
Public Policy Polling. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/05/marriage-amendment-still-leads-by-14.html
Ballot Pedia. NC Carolina Same-Sex Marriage (May 2012). http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/North_Carolina_Same-Sex_Marriage,_Amendment_1_(May_2012)
The News & Record, Marriage amendment redundant and vague (April 30, 2012). http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/04/27/article/marriage_amendment_redundant_and_vague
Potential Legal Impact of the Proposed Domestic Legal Union Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution (Nov. 8, 2011). http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/faculty/marriageamendment/dlureportnov8.pdf
Protect all NC families, the harmful truth about Amendment 1. http://www.protectallncfamilies.org/the-truth
The Catholic Voice of NC. http://catholicvoicenc.org/ncmarriagefaq-finalon12-1-11.pdf
Indy Weekly, Bill Clinton makes two presidents against Amendment 1 (May 5, 2012). http://www.indyweek.com/citizen/archives/2012/05/05/bill-clinton-makes-two-presidents-against-amendment-1
Wikipedia, Recognition of same-sex unions in North Carolina. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_North_Carolina#cite_note-amendment_one-2
The Huffington Post, North Carolina Pastor Sean Harris: Parents should “punch” their gay acting children , (May 2, 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/north-carolina-pastor-sea_n_1468618.html
The night was hot as usual, but thankfully there was a slight breeze and the mosquitoes were merciful. James was sleeping soundly in his bed…dreaming about what 8 year olds normally dream about. In the distance, there is a rustling of what sounds like a medium-sized animal creeping towards the village. Suddenly, a scream of alarm breaks the silence, followed by a chorus of other screams…but these screams are no longer of surprise, but rather of terror and cries of anguish. The once peaceful night is no more.
Before he can fully comprehend what is going on, James is roughly pulled out of his slumber. His night of dreaming has suddenly turned into a nightmare. Men with guns are pushing him on his feet and away from his parents. His parents try to go after him, but their efforts are useless. James is helpless as he watches his parents get executed in front of him…first his mother, and then his father.
So…what happens next? The police arrive, right? These men are arrested and sentenced to pay for their horrible murders, right? The answers to both of these questions are “no”…because unfortunately for James, and thousands of other children like him, this did not happen in the United States. This happened in central Africa, where the villages are remote, there is no 911 emergency number, and where there will not be any retribution for the senseless attacks on his village or for the murders of either of his parents.
This is not a post about Joseph Kony, the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), or the Sudanese government…it is about James and the thousands of children like him. The thousands of children who were forced to take arms, to kill their parents, to kill other civilians, and watched as people were mutilated. They lost their homes, their siblings, and their childhoods. These children will no longer dream the same dreams.
I know some of you are thinking…this is “old” news by now but the sad thing is, there are still so many people in this world who have never heard of Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). I was going to let this topic pass me by, but with the recent arrest of George Clooney on March the 16th, during a protest against the Sudanese government (this arrest was unrelated to Kony or the LRA) and after watching the movie, Machine Gun Preacher (2011), starring Gerard Butler, this week…I just could not stop thinking about the atrocities happening half a world away.
Before you shake your head, I already know the criticism that comes with this situation. I know the main argument is, what can the United States do? This is not our battle to fight and the U.S. does not have any interests in Sub-Saharan Africa, except for concerns regarding oil. I agree with that concern, but isn’t the value of human life more important than the value of oil. Are we just supposed to sit back and let the mass killings of innocent civilians go unpunished…especially after we are aware of it.
Another argument is that, the crimes against children have been exaggerated. Invisible Children claims there have been about 30,000 children abducted while Machine Gun Preacher claims there are about 40,000 children abducted. My argument is, isn’t even 1,000 children, just one too many. I’ve heard how Kony is in hiding and how the LRA have dwindled to an army of only a few hundred soldiers, but regardless these men are still responsible, it doesn’t matter if there are only three of them left. And should we now teach war criminals that if they hide long enough, the world will forget about them and no longer pursue them?
The NGOs have also been scrutinized for the way they have been dispersing funds. As an advocate myself, who does work for a non-profit organization, I can tell you first hand, that it is not cheap to travel to D.C. and that funds do have to be allocated for travel and meal expenses. But you don’t have to donate to these organizations to make a difference. Spreading news by word of mouth is free. You can make your own posters and t-shirts. Calling and writing your district representatives and senators costs little in time and money. Yes, the U.S. government is made up of the few, the rich, the elite…but they are always aware of public opinion polls and key word computer searches are always tracked. I do believe there is power in numbers and when the general public act as one voice, there is a better chance that voice will be heard.
I honestly do not think that Kony will be captured in 2012 nor do I think that the U.S. will do more than they already have, which consist of deploying 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to Central Africa in November of 2011. With this being an election year, I also do not think President Obama or the Republican nominee will want to introduce the thought of another foreign war funded by American money and American troops.
But still…I truly do believe in the power of emotions. I believe that stories like James’, Jacobs’ (from the Kony 2010 video), and so many others like them should be heard and acknowledged. While I don’t have the solutions, I know that most people feel that anyone who commits a crime against humanity should be punished and because the heart usually wins over the mind, despite all the concerns I voiced above, I think that with public pressure and awareness, Kony and others like him, will one day answer for all they have done.
If you are unfamiliar with Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) please take the time to watch these videos. They provide basic background information.
I don’t claim to know all the facts and I realize that there are so many more complex issues surrounding the crisis of North Uganda and South Sudan. These are just my thoughts on the situation. I love feedback. Please feel free to share your comments on this post below.
DISCLAIMER: I am not promoting nor am I affiliated with the Invisible Children, Machine Gun Preacher, or Amnesty International.
For more information visit:
James’ Story http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/kids-stories/
Machine Gun Preacher http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/
Invisible Children http://www.invisiblechildren.com/
LRA Crisis Tracker http://www.lracrisistracker.com/
The Ugandan Civil War and the LRA http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/lra.htm
Amnesty International http://www.amnestyusa.org/
All Africa http://allafrica.com/