Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy September!

Happy September! Or as the Greeks say, “Kalo Mina!” (Which basically translates to “Good Month!”) So, it’s been a while. I know, I know, you can scold me later. In my defense though, I kept quite busy throughout the summer… and the miniscule down time I had was spent either catching up on some much needed ZzZs, spending time with friends and family, or basking in some summer events. In general, even though I complain about never having a legitimate vacation, I always get a huge high off keeping busy and therefore constantly do so. Oh! I also celebrated my 24th year of living, passed my first year of law school, became a sushi-lover and fan of seaweed salad, attended my first wine tasting experience, and had a good time mini-golfing. (Just don’t ask for my score.) All in all, good things. A productive yet gratifying summer!

I think that a question that every 1L asks themselves as they are reading hundreds of cases and spending countless hours studying and attending classes….is whether any of this will ever be applicable in the real world. I’ve heard from countless lawyers exclaiming that most of what they do at their jobs wasn’t covered in law school, and even if it was, their boss wants it done a different way. I’ve also heard from others how certain classes just aren’t applicable in their type of law, so even if you’re a chapter or two behind in Constitutional Law, does it reallllllyyyyyyy matter? ;-) Certainly this was a question that was always in the back of my mind…until I actually had a chance to practice what I learned. Over the summer, I had a chance to file a couple civil law suits against defendants among different states, namely CT and NY. While my boss guided me through the process substantially, I have to admit that I found a new appreciation towards my Civil Procedure class which helped with jurisdictional issues, venue questions, and different processes that had to be dealt with. Cheers, law school!

The start of my new semester began in August, and oh boy did it start! Law school students usually say that second year is easier than the first year law school madness. While I don’t think it’s specifically easier, I have to admit that it really is much more enjoyable; this is probably due to the fact that I actually had a choice in what classes I signed up for, instead of having the generic first year classes of Torts, Contracts, Property, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Civil Procedure. As far as the classes that I’m taking this semester, most are for Business Law….and one class even includes a heavy dosage of math problems! *Note: I came to law school to never see math again…yet it is following me everywhere I go! Yes, your elementary math school teacher was right when she said that you will always need math in your life. Thank goodness for my special math tutor that doesn't mind spending a Friday night guiding me through equations. :)

So, as the leaves turn into beautiful shades of yellow, red, and orange, you can bet your pretty penny that you will find me weekend after weekend at a library in the Boston area, taking the occasional chai latte break to reward myself for all my hard work, yet longing for home. This is the quintessential law school student's dilemma...wanting to go home, yet being fully aware of the sad reality that your studies just don't allow that. Anyways, if you’re in the area, come by and say hello! You might just get lucky and catch me on my down time. Have a great September, everyone!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Small Update

Hey readers! Hope you all are well! Just a small update...I recently moved and was unfortunately made aware that my previous apartment, instead of forwarding my mail, returned them to sender(s). If any of you have sent me anything to read or check out and I haven't gotten back to you, please e-mail me at the email-address provided under my Contact info. If any of you want my new apartment address as well, feel free to e-mail me as well! :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Power of an Apology in the Legal World

I can’t believe that it’s been over three months since I last contributed to my own blog! I’m sorry, readers! This semester’s law school workload has increased dramatically; In return, my blogging time has decreased substantially. In addition to last semester’s classes (minus Torts), Criminal Law and Constitutional Law have been added to my heavy class load – which brings my class schedule to a hefty 6 courses. In better news, a summer position has been secured on my behalf, and I had a blast choosing classes for next semester. Four more weeks and I’ll officially be done with my first year of law school. Yeah!

So, besides the hundreds of cases that I’ve had to read for classes, I’ve been doing some personal, on-the-side research of my own. It’s common knowledge that the American way of life is based on the belief that everyone should have their day in court. In other words, an individual has the right to have his/her case heard and tried in front of a judge. This is a wonderful system that ensures equality and due process across the board. I have to admit though, that sometimes I’ll be reading, briefing, or reviewing a case for school/work/my own research, and I start to wonder why on earth such a case was even civilly tried in the first place. While reading through the facts, the judge’s concurrences or dissents, I think about what a waste of resources this case was not only for the plaintiff, but for the court as well. I have come to find out, though, that one very powerful thing can stop a person from starting a civil law suit in the first place: a genuine apology.

In a past blog post I wrote, “Slander, Say What?!” I described a hypothetical situation about slander. The victim in this situation never received an apology from the slanderer. Instead of putting an end to his actions and to admitting his wrongdoings, he chose to continue the slander and allow his family and friends to chime in. His friends and family never apologized either. This alone would motivate her to start litigation against everyone involved...not only to secure her reputation, but to also have an injunction ordered for the slanderer(s) to discontinue their actions immediately and to collect damages. What’s in store for both the victim and the slanderers? Read more below!

Ah, the power of an apology. In the legal world, this is a concept that doesn’t get much attention. All in all, in western society we seem to have developed a general unapologetic attitude. Alternatively, we have become very proficient in the non-apology apology. People choose to engage in contentious litigation, often being ordered to pay thousands or millions of dollars in court awards and legal fees, because they are unwilling to offer a sincere and genuine apology. Those three words—“I am sorry”—are powerful words that can often save people a great deal of time, money, and hurt in the legal world.

The potential consequences of an unwillingness to apologize can be severe. Disputes often become concrete legacy…so much that apologies and forgiveness are not even considered. A perfect example is provided by family disputes. Conflict between family members can create schisms and long-standing resentment, resulting in family relationships breaking down and, eventually, peripheral family members taking sides. A more familiar example is the litigated case where an initial unwillingness to apologize leads to a long, costly, and contentious court battle; both parties become embittered, clearly drawing their respective lines in the sand, and firmly committing to their positions and principles. Apologies offer validation and people desire validation. Clearly, the failure to apologize can be a central factor in escalating conflict. Despite the serious consequences of not apologizing, we seem to have even greater fears about the potential consequences of doing so, including fear of the other person’s negative reaction toward us, fear of losing power or authority by admitting wrongdoing, and fear that such an admission indicates we are weak, incompetent, or bad. Few things are more powerful than having the common sense, wisdom, and strength to admit when you’ve made a mistake and to set things right.

Empirical research began exploring the influence of apologies on litigant decision-making. Research reveals that apologies generally influence claimants’ perceptions, judgments, and decisions in ways that are likely to make settlement more likely. Apologies may alter perceptions of the dispute and the disputants, decrease negative emotions, improve expectations about the future conduct and relationship of the parties, change negotiation aspirations and fairness judgments, and increase willingness to accept an offer of settlement. In fact, in an article featuring an interview with several plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases, 30% of the plaintiffs stated that they never would have sued had they received an apology. Most likely this is because an apology subtracts insult from the injury, and offered at the right time, can prevent minor conflicts from escalating into major lawsuits.

According to Dr. Aaron Lazare, a sincere, genuine and successful apology follows a four-part apology process: (1) acknowledgement of the offense; (2) communicating remorse and the related attitudes of forbearance, sincerity, and honesty; (3) explanations; and (4) reparations. Acknowledgement can be somewhat challenging because it includes: (a) correctly identifying the party or the parties responsible for the grievance, as well as the party or parties to whom the apology is owed; (b) acknowledging the offending behaviors in adequate detail; (c) recognizing the impact that these behaviors had on the victim(s); and (d) confirming that the grievance was a violation of the social or moral contract between the parties. Succinctly, a full apology is “a statement offered by a wrongdoer that expresses acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the violated rule, admission of fault and responsibility for its violation, and the expression of genuine regret and remorse for harm done.”

One would think that a simple apology outweighs the sad reality that the slanderers have to now pay thousands of dollars of damages. This is exactly where the problem exists. Civil rights defendants are notoriously reluctant to offer apologies, and in contrast to some other countries, the U.S. civil legal system does not provide a mechanism to force recalcitrant defendants to accept responsibility by apologizing.. As a result, many plaintiffs are disillusioned by the process of litigation, irrespective of whether they receive significant monetary or injunctive relief. These plaintiffs aren't disillusioned because they have unreasonable expectations of the legal process; they are disappointed because they haven't been fully compensated.

Apologies are some of the most profound interchanges between people because they touch us at what can be our most vulnerable moments. The party who makes the apology can be relieved of his or her guilt and shame in this act of sacrifice, and the person receiving the apology enjoys the restoration of their dignity and can envision the beginnings of forgiveness. Therefore, it is important not to underestimate the power of apology and forgiveness in conflict because something so seemingly small may actually provide the solution or at least mitigate damages.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ringin' in the New Year...

I’m baaaack! Okay, so I have to admit that I went on a mini blogging hiatus, but I’ll explain my [valid] reasons for leaving all of you out of the loop. For most of December, I was engaged in what is, was, and ever shall be a law school student’s worst nightmare: Law. School. Finals. Sixteen hours of written essays….bluebook usage like you’ve never seen before….and the greatest part is that I get to experience this twice a school year, three years in a row, just like every other law school student in the world! Sense my sarcasm? Silver lining: I am now officially 1/6th of a lawyer. So, if any of you readers need any legal advice, I am willing to give it at 1/6th the price. :) Joking aside, studying for finals consumed every single minute of about a two-week span, and I came out of them hopefully victorious (finding out grades soon!), but definitely with a couple years of my life taken off. So, what did I do when I went home for Christmas break? Absolutely nothing, and you can bet your pretty penny that I loved every minute of it. I added hours into my sleeping bank and I’m pretty sure I’ve already overdrawn with the beginning of the new semester which started this past week. 

So, Happy New Year, readers, and I hope that 2011 really and truly is your best year yet. I made a firm decision in late December that 2011 is going to be the best year of my twenty-something existence. Ever since I was a young girl, my dad used to suggest that my sister, mother, and I all wrote down 5-10 New Year’s resolutions that we wanted to accomplish or aim for. Even though I don’t technically live at home anymore, I still continue this little tradition, and I actually check in on my progress monthly. In an effort for my readers to get to know me a little better, I want to share some of them with you (but only the not-so-personal ones!) Here goes nothing…

1. Learn What Law School Doesn’t Teach.
  • In other words, Bakes, Know Thyself! Law school teaches its students a whole bunch of lawyerly things, but it’s up to me to improve my morale, productivity, retention, quality of work product, creativity, loyalty, and efficiency. All these qualities are and will be beyond crucial in my profession, and while I like to think that I possess a lot of these noble things, there’s always room for improvement. I’ve been quite blessed to have worked in a legal environment for a number of years. My boss, who has become one of my personal role models, always made sure that I realized that law school can only teach you so much…life experience, coupled with the above mentioned, will get me much farther than the average John Doe ‘by the book’ lawyer.
2. Be Selfish Once in a While
  • 2010 taught me a lot of things. I need to make more time for me! I find that a good indicator as to whether some self-care is needed is when I begin to feel resentful. This means that I’ve said yes far more times than I should have, that I am making decisions based on feeling guilt, and that I somehow think that I ‘should’ do x or y. I’ve realized that there’s a lot of people out there who don’t have my best interest in mind. Thus, I’ve learned that in order to make sure that I win in this “game of life,” I have to be firm and adamant in my belief that if one doesn’t contribute love, kindness, and reciprocal friendship, then I simply don’t have as much time for such a person. In other words, these types of people can stew in their own juice. :) Happy cooking!
3. Toast Some Bubbly!
  • Disclaimer: NO! I’m not suggesting to become a drunkie. However, I am going to celebrate my achievements, friendships, and special moments in my life much more often. I accomplished a great deal in 2010 and overcame boundaries that I wasn’t so sure I could overcome. Between getting my double master’s, becoming proficient in German, working a 60-hour summer work-week, starting law school, witnessing a horrible homicide which left three of my ‘brothers’ dead while I was barely spared….I’ve come to realize that I need to celebrate my life more often. To the never-ending friendships with two very special girls that grew and blossomed in 2010…I toast to you both. To the new, refreshing, and exciting moments in my life with family and loved ones…I toast to all of you. To overcoming obstacles, both great and small…I toast to you!, uh, me! :)
My actual list has eight resolutions, five of which are a bit more personal. While I’d love to share the intimate details of my life with you all, I’m constantly reminded that the Kathy stalkers come a dime a dozen. Ciao!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Saints Abroad, yet Devils at Home!

Ah, hypocrites. They can be compared to the anti-smoker who can’t quit smoking; to the painted fire which emits no warmth; to the U.S. advisor of moral policies who admitted to $8 million losses from a gambling addiction; to the beautifully polished tree trunk that is rotting at its core; to the Korean dictator who exhorts his subjects to make sacrifices while he lives in ostentatious luxury; to the couple who cries mercy, love, and forgiveness yet after a formal investigation is shown to have harassed/conspired together against a merciful girl [charges pending!]; to the U.S. politician that actively promoted segregation after fathering the child of a black servant; to the whitewashed tomb which is clean and striking on the outside, yet full of dead man’s bones and everything unclean; to the police officer that persecutes against drunk-driving yet begs his adviser to not punish him after being pulled over, drunk, with a bottle of bourbon in his hands; to the “turn the other cheek!” Christian who does nothing but punishes and charges; to the….well, you get the point. Saints abroad yet devils at home!

What’s hypocrisy? Hypocrisy is derived from the Greek word hypokrisis, which meant playing a part on the stage, or putting on a mask to misrepresent reality. In the ancient Greek theater, actors were known as hypocrites, without any negative connotation. Kudos to my people – we did everything right until the rest of the world had to come and mess it all up! Kidding! All joking aside though, in the real world, being a hypocrite was and is definitely viewed as wrong, since it’s a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles that one does not really possess. In matters of religion, I think it's downright evil.

So, what’s my beef with religious hypocrisy? Simply stated, it stinks. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s inappropriate in religious settings. It does more harm than good. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fan of consistency, or perhaps it’s because I think that religious hypocrites are the most dangerous types. Why? The wound genuine religion receives from hypocrites and hypocrisy is far more dangerous and incurable than that inflicted on it by the open and scandalous sinner. The hypocrite lays a stumbling block in the way of others and tempts them to think that all religion is but mockery, and that all believers are but hypocrites.

The classic image of a hypocrite is one of a person who relentlessly pursues his or her own self-interest, and who appears to endorse other-regarding moral principles only as a ruse to further that self-interest. This rational estimation and pursuit of self-interest seems to suggest that hypocrites are also egoists, since they are guilty of allowing self-interest to win out over their altruistic obligations. Hypocrites need not be cynical, isolated, scheming villains – they may be members of a religious community who have been socialized into its ways. As a result, the role that self-interest plays in hypocrisy becomes very complex and subtle. “Do as I said, not as I do.”

When I mentioned in my previous blog post, “Cheers to Her!,” that I was preparing a new writing on religious hypocrisy, I received some e-mails from friends and readers asking if there is a difference between sinners and hypocrites, for as the old saying goes, “All hypocrites are sinners!” TRUE. However, not all sinners are hypocrites! Let me explain while I take out my handy dandy Bible. [Warning! If you aren’t a fan of religious posts, then you should stop reading now and come back when I post a new blog! No hard feelings.] The answer is that while no sin is to be condoned, hypocrisy really is worse. According to the New Testament, Jesus was angered far more by public hypocrisy than by private sin. Consider His warm gospel outreach to tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus welcomed poor sinners. He gladly shared meals with them (Matthew 9:10), and He eagerly responded to the way they acknowledged their sin and came to Him for mercy. But Jesus’ reaction to self-righteous, hypocritical people was beyond scathing. “Woe to you…hypocrites!” He cried (Matthew 23:13). A Christian sinner recognizes his sinful nature, acknowledges it, and repents of it (daily, even hourly), while a hypocrite says one thing, believes another, and at the end of the day doesn’t know nor notice how much harm he/she inflicts. All hypocrites are sinners, but not all sinners are hypocrites.
My favorite biblical passage that addresses hypocrisy is the following:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

I could read this passage over and over again and can never get enough. In my day-to-day language, I take it to mean, “Get off your mighty throne and remove the ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude!” These verses set forth a prescription for judging one’s brother properly. First one must judge himself and then he can see how to judge his brother. The dramatic imagery used to express this is the outrageous picture of a brother with a ‘splinter’ in his eye while the one judging has a ‘log’ in his eye. The demand is that only those in good spiritual health are in a position to help their brother clean up their lives spiritually. In other words, self-examination must precede critical examination of others. We all realize that judgments are assessments - appraisals of right or wrong, wise or foolish, accurate or inaccurate, rational or irrational. Forming opinions about other individuals and then expressing those views stands as a risky endeavor among humans in much of western society, particularly if the opinions are negative, then the expression of them takes on the nature of criticism. This is a good reminder for each of us on how we relate to one another in the body. It is often eas­ier to find some­thing wrong in some­one else and point that out than to lov­ingly restore them to faith. This point is impor­tant, because there will be a time that we will need other mem­bers of the Chris­t­ian com­mu­nity to restore us in our trans­gres­sion.

Hey, ultra-fanatical-conservatives, this paragraph is for you! In the past couple weeks, I remember reading an article on how much religious and political organizations have spent in the past year to promote anti-homosexuality. Instead of spending billions on disingenuously denigrating same-gender loving people and spreading intolerance and hate with double standards, I would like to see religious groups spending that money to feed the poor, helping kids develop a healthy sexuality and outlook on the world, helping the sick and those in crises. Because, at the end of the day, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’; there is no sole saint or sole sinner. So, why do we insist on superciliously discriminating by race, color, creed or sexual orientation when it was the same God that made us all; when we are all part of that one God – no matter what name you call Him by? Aren’t we calling the Creator’s perfection into question when we declare a part of His creation as ‘not good enough’, or ‘flawed’ or ‘intrinsically disordered’? Think about it. There is so much hate towards homosexuality within a specific type of religious conservative; they think it’s okay to belittle, chastise, and mock homosexuals. As Christians, aren’t we taught to love our neighbor? Where is the love?

My opening paragraph mentioned different scenarios that showed hypocrisy; one of those instances was publicly chained with one word: “KARMA.” I don’t believe in karma; I think it’s silly. “Karma’s gonna bite you in the ass!” No, that isn’t quite how life works. This isn't about some sort of metaphysical or mystical register on which the gods keep track of your merit points, it's about the cumulative effect of your actions in determining the conditions of your future -- through ordinary cause and effect in an utterly commonplace, science-compatible way. I do believe, though, that we reap what we sow. Hey facebook friends, check out my “favorite quotes” and you’ll see what is at the core of my beliefs: “A tree is known by its fruit; a man, by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” [Shout-out to St. Basil the Great.]

I believe that if you sow love, you’ll reap love through interactions within friendships and relationships. If you sow mercy, you’ll inspire others to be merciful and perhaps receive mercy during struggles and hardships due to your virtuous example. If you sow friendship and stay with someone through the good, the bad, the ugly, carrying your friend’s burdens, then you’ll reap never-ending friendships not only from your closest friends, but from acquaintances and random strangers who get inspired by your faithfulness in a friend. All these things are precious treasures that we should all strive to have and inherit. If one sows anger and violence, will one reap good things? Probably not. If one pretends to be a good friend yet on the flipside does nothing but chastises, warns, fathoms up lies and stories, then what will this hypocritical person reap? Loneliness….Not only from the affected friend, but from others who hear about these vicious acts. ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ Perhaps one of the most insidious mistakes is to believe that you do not reap what you sow, but what you think you sow, or what you say you sow, or what you wish you had sown, or what you want others to believe you have sown. But realize this: You reap what you actually sow. How ridiculous it would be if a farmer planted a field full of wheat, thinking he was planting carrots. Would he receive carrots instead of wheat merely because he was innocently mistaken, or because he wished he had planted carrots, or because he told his neighbors he had planted carrots? Of course not.

As always, thanks for reading. :) I hope all of you had even half the amazing Thanksgiving that I had! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Law School Musical


This is *too* good to not share with all of you! Enjoy this little law school musical that is pretty accurate in terms of what goes on in law school students' lives and minds. Also, in reference to the end of the musical... my 1L experience so far has granted me my first white strand of hair. My sister so wonderfully pointed it out at a supermarket check-out lane! (I'm tempted to pluck it out...but you know what they say....when one gets plucked, ten come to its funeral!) Don't want to take any chances! ;)

Here's the link:
[Hey, I tried uploading it directly to this post, but as always, technology failed me. Enjoy!]

In other news, a new post on 'religious hypocrisy' will be up by the end of the week. To the several people who e-mailed me, wondering if I fell off the face of the earth due to my blogging hiatus, I have two words for you: Law School. :)

Love always,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cheers to Her!

“Please don’t hit me...” she whispered amidst tears, avoiding the eyes of her abuser as he made a fist to sock her in the face. She was used to this. A girl, tender in age and young at heart, had fallen in love with a man who used the Bible to justify hitting her. A fanatic, over-zealous type, he spent many-a-day reading the word of God, picking and choosing verses that he would eventually use against her sins. What were her sins? 1) She giggled a lot. 2) She listened to hip-hop music. 3) She painted her nails.

I’m not too sure if any of you have picked up a Bible recently, but let me save you some time. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies blatantly oppressing women to the point of worthlessness. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies hitting a woman because she giggles more than the average person. In fact, the Bible encourages having a joyful spirit. What was wrong with giggling? In her abuser’s mind, the victim’s constant giggling showed her lack of seriousness and peace of mind. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies using this Holy Book as the abuser’s very same object to inflict a scar on her shoulder because she listened to hip-hop music. In fact, the Bible encourages song and dance; I could probably list about fifteen verses off the top of my head right now that support my statement. What was wrong with hip-hop music? In her abuser’s mind, the hip-hop artists had lifestyles that he didn’t agree with, thus punishing his victim for her poor choices in music. Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? There is nothing in the Bible that allows an abuser to kick his victim in the abdomen as she’s laying on the floor, helpless and hopeless, because he noticed that her nails were painted a light pink color. In fact, the Bible even shows us how Solomon praised his love’s beauty and her adornments.

The Bible promotes love, not hate. The Bible promotes compassion, not a hardened heart. The Bible promotes mercy, not persecution. The Bible promotes kindness, not cruelty. The Bible promotes protecting, not attacking others. The Bible promotes forgiveness, not accusation and blame. The Bible promotes encouraging, assuring, and covering, not intimidation, warning, and bullying. Newsflash: if you’re using the Bible for anything else but love, you’re using it in the wrong way.

At first, the victim refused to succumb to his requests. She’d rather stand up for who she was – a bubbly, giggly, creative, colorful girl, and did not want to change for anyone. After all, her independence and sense of self were strong, unique, well-liked, and accepted by 99.99% of humans. [Note: the .01% equals unreasonable humans, much like the abuser in this situation.] After a while though, she lost her sense of self. Her eyes no longer sparkled like diamonds. She stopped being true to her character, quit dancing lessons, cleared her iTunes and browsing history from any type of song that might enable her to be abused, hid all her accumulated nail polish bottles under her bed, and even made sure to not even crack a smile in front of her abuser. She was mute on the outside, yet screaming and crying for help on the inside. One day, her abuser found that box of nail polish. He dragged her by the hair, slammed her against a wall, and punched her in the stomach. This was the beginning of her freedom. While she refused to report this incident/press charges because she had a merciful heart, she did make it quite clear that their relationship was over. At first, she shrugged it off and tried to go on with her everyday life. It succeeded for quite some time until she realized that she harbored feelings of self-hatred for falling in love with someone who was capable of abusing her. She realized that she no longer was able to trust, be open and honest in familial and personal relationships. Above all, she knew that the smile she plastered on her face each morning was a fake one; a smile that was wiped away and replaced with tears when she was alone.

Hey, has anyone else noticed that at times, the more fanatical a person is, the more hypocritical he/she tends to be? I tend to believe that fanaticism parallels hypocrisy. Consider a person who is an avid believer in a religion that requires both sexual restraint and covering the faults of your neighbors with kindness and love. Suppose this person persecutes his/her neighbors because of their promiscuity, thereby attempting to appear morally superior to them or more pious and at the same time, warning others about their neighbor’s sins to the fullest extent. This person might well be described as a fanatic because of the zeal with which he or she criticizes the neighbor’s sexual morality, yet at the same time we might say that these actions betray a kind of hypocrisy, in that the person falls short of the requirements of neighborly love and covering their sins which his/her own professed religion calls for. So, this person is a fanatic and a hypocrite at the same time! Sure, hypocrisy can be found in the person who has no commitment to principle, but also in the self-righteous moral fanatic. [I smell a new blog post on this topic….coming to you soon!]

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato knew what he was talking about. The next time you judge someone for his/her actions, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that something much deeper might be at the root of why this person acted a certain way. The next time you chastise a person for living in his/her "own little world", perhaps you should take a step back and realize that this world was created for his/her own protection and security. The next time you verbally reprimand someone for his/her lack of openness and honesty, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that in some circumstances, it might take YEARS for someone to gain trust, be 100% open, and find faith in a friend again. The next time you wonder why someone acts worried, fearful, defensive, or apprehensive in a relationship, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that there might be something that has been plaguing this person for years.

This girl is currently in law school. She’s kept her silence for very long, providing the usual, “It’s a lucrative career and I love legal studies!” answer to those who ask what her motivations were for embarking on such a demanding yet well-respected and much-admired path. Little do people around her know…that her main motivation was to empower herself and others through the vast amount of knowledge and legal protection that our wonderful legal system provides. Little do people know that law school provided a security blanket for her; a sense of peace that she wasn’t able to find until she was enrolled. She’s on her way to trusting people more, to finding and maintaining real friendships, and to embarking on romances based on respect, equal sacrifices, honesty, love, and lack of paranoia.

Readers, there’s a time and a place for everything: now is her time to shine. Cheers to her voice. Cheers to her strength. Cheers to finding herself once again. Cheers to her.

I hope I helped you further find your voice. Written with love, honesty, contemplation, and permission.