Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spirit Animal and Cultural Appropriation- A Lesson Learned

I had a very interesting conversation on a friend's thread today. I am all for educating yourself and this was a good opportunity for me. As a pagan of 20+ years I always thought Spirit Animal was simply what you called the animal spirit that guided you that you were connected with. It was today I learned that many Native Americans believe this to be cultural appropriation.

(Cultural appropriation=is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.)

I disagreed with this because many cultures have animal spirits that guide you and are sacred, so I argued with my friend’s friend and then I did some research. I mean ALL religions have cultural appropriation in them, you see bits and pieces from so many cultures in everything, where do we draw the line at what is offensive and what isn’t?

Spirit Animal is a roughly translated phrase introduced by white anthropologists into American Literature. It is something sacred to Native Americans. I never knew that, I thought it was a basic concept not the actual translation of something specific.

I can admit when I’m wrong,  the term is cultural appropriation. I also enjoy learning new things, reading, researching and educating myself. So thanks to my friend’s friend! I am a better person because someone else took the time to explain something to me and while I don’t agree with everything they said- I appreciate others opinions and new knowledge.

I read dozens of articles and blogs about this subject, desperate to learn about it.

I found some Native Americans who didn’t care if white people used this term as long as they weren’t using it like “whiskey is my spirit animal.” I found others who think it’s totally inappropriate to say If you’re non-native. I also found some who didn’t care about this phrase, but did care about the use of the word totem.

As a pagan, a liberal and a human being I will try to stop saying this word if it is offensive, I would never use a racial slur or want to make someone else feel uncomfortable. It is difficult as I grew in my own religion using this phrase.

I do, however, have a few things to point out.

1) If it’s not ok for me to call my kinship with bats who have spiritually guided me for almost 20 years a “Spirit Animal” what do I call it? I have seen recommendations from daemon and muse to patronus and those are all awful. Patronus isn’t even a real thing and the other two do not actually describe what Pagans are normally talking about when they use this phrase.

2) Do not get angry if you hear your pagan friend use this term. Most pagans actually think a spirit animal or guide is simply that. A corporeal animal spirit that protects and guides you that you feel kinship with. We don’t mean to be offensive, instead educate them- kindly.

3) In the realm of cultural appropriation non-pagans should realize using terms like Samhain or forgetting you celebrate Christmas because Christians took over a pagan holiday is also insulting. However paganism is treated like a joke, unlike other religions and cultures. So no one worries about offending us. I haven’t been offended by a non-pagan saying Samhain in years because it doesn’t matter, it won’t change.

Anyone have suggestions for better terms than Spirit Animal? I really would love something that doesn’t make my religious belief sound stupid or like a joke. Does anyone know if Spirit Guide is part of someone’s cultural and is offensive? I like that term too.

Anyway, I love that even at almost 34 I can still learn new things, about others and about myself.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Affordable Care Act versus the American Healthcare Act

Obamacare vs The American Health Care Act

UPDATE : 3/24/2017 FUCK TRUMP AND PAUL RYAN Because they won't have the votes here is what has just been added. 
"Then, in an apparent effort to please hardliners from the House Freedom Caucus, House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced a four-page amendment that would essentially roll-back the mandatory coverage of “essential health benefits” under the Affordable Care Act. The amendment allows states to decide what is considered essential, which means that insurance companies may no longer be required to cover prenatal care, maternity and newborn care, mental health, prescription drugs, emergency visits, hospitalization, outpatient care, preventative care, and more. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet analyzed the proposed changes to the bill."

No matter what you feel about the ACA , the new plan that the Republican Party is trying to shove down our throats is worse, maybe not Apocalypse worse, but it's not good either.

It doesn't matter that for every one bad story about someone's premium going up or how "obamacare" screwed them I hear, I hear four more about how it saved someone's life or made it so for the first time ever someone had affordable insurance or insurance at all.

All that matters is too many people in America do not think that affordable healthcare is something EVERYONE should be entitled too.

Just to be clear even a lot of Republicans think the new healthcare plan is not great.

Also, I don't think the ACA is perfect, alot needs to be changed. Like religious and non-profit organizations shouldn't be allowed to deny birth control, sterilization or weight loss treatments.

Here are some links from  reliable sources that explain both healthcare plans without being total assholes about it.

Obamacare Facts

Is the AHCA Awful?

Who wins under the AHCA

Republicans not happy with AHCA

Birth Control Benefits Won't Really Change

Republican's Replacement Plan

No More Mental Healthcare

So here's a brief break down of the two plans. Now the AHCA does keep a lot of the good things from the ACA, however the things it gets rid of like the Medicaid Expansion and allocating extra funds for Medicaid hurt the poor and especially poor women, while giving better tax breaks to the rich. It also makes certain Planned Parenthood is defunded. I could argue for hours about how many women depend on Planned Parenthood for their basic healthcare needs and that no federal money goes towards abortion but I've already done that, so let's move on.

ACA       VS       AHCA

What it covers THE ACA THE AHCA
Doesn't Deny or Raise Prices for Pre existing conditions  x
Makes sure companies cannot drop you if you get sick x
Protects against gender discrimination x
Free preventive services like pap smears and vaccines x
Expands Medicaid and CHIP so more people are covered x
Improves Medicare Coverage x
Requires Larger employers to insure employees x
Creates a marketplace so people can find insurance x
Young Adults can stay on their parents insurance until 26 x x
Without a waiver there is a fee if you don't have or offer insurance x
Tax credits for poor people x
No lifetime health limits on coverage x x
Insurance can't raise premiums without getting the OK from Gov't x
Taxes are increased if you make more than 200k a year x
No insurance subsidies instead tax credits x
Allows insurance to charge more for older customers than younger x
Pay 30% more for health insurance if you have more than a few months gap of coverage x
Defunds Planned Parenthood x
No money to insurance companies that cover abortion even if you don't use the service x
Mental Health Services Covered                                                                                  x

Now I didn't go into tons and tons of details, but I did read the proposed replacement bill and have tried to do as much research as possible. I may have missed something and if I did, apologies.  I also haven't talked about how everyone suddenly dropping their required insurance will actually fuck the economy, I figure as adults you can read about that yourself.

America- you've lost touch with yourself. We are supposed to help the poor, the needy and welcome all peoples from all walks of life- everyone should be able to access the American Dream. You are not supposed be the biggest over privileged douche in the room.