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Remember when I said I have some good news to share?

After years of refusing to create anything, in spite of my nudges to get back to drawing and painting, my mother would not return to making art.  Until now.

For many years, my mother was a professional artist, and was very good at it.  However, after she became ill, she stopped creating.  It’s rarely a good sign when an artist stops creating.  I nudged, I pestered, I gently requested, I nagged.  She refused to create.

But, she recently picked up a camera and started making photos.  When I saw them, I suggested letting me post some of them online, and she’s agreed to it.  Yay!  The plan is to add some of them this week, along with the photos of the new framed 4 leaf clovers.

When I asked how she wanted to be credited, she said “Just use my name… *Mom*”, and grinned.  So, that is how they will be credited when I post them.

Then she said something that nearly brought tears to my eyes.

“I want to put the money toward your student loans.”

The student loans I accumulated in college weigh heavy on me, even though my current payment arrangement seems pretty fair.  The interest is piling on faster than I can pay the bill, and the debt just keeps growing.  It’s my only large debt, and it keeps getting larger, even though I have been out of school for several years now.  It’s one of the things that keeps me awake some nights, and it’s one of the reasons I have been doing fewer charity auctions.

It’s interesting that we are judged no matter what we do.  If we do not go to college and end up struggling, people will say “you should have gone to college”.  If we go to college and end up struggling, people will say “you should have just gotten a ‘real’ job”.  This really has nothing to do with the rest of the story, though.  Just a passing observation of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” in action.

Of course, now, in spite of the realization that it is so great that my mother is creating again, and it is so touching that she wants to use that to help with one of my biggest stressors, it upsets me that my stress has washed into her thoughts.  My student loans are not something she should be worrying about.  But, if that’s what makes her start creating art again, I suppose I’ll take that.

But the whole situation got me thinking about how many others are in the same boat.  We’re not allowed to file bankruptcy on student loans.  There is an income-based repayment plan, but it does not leave the debtor anything for savings.  They can defer the loans, but only for a couple of years during the entire life of the loan.  And, the debts count as assets for the lenders, similar to the way the housing loans counted as assets a few years ago.  It all seems like a dangerous mix on a large scale.

So, I started this petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/483/761/623/

Someone asked, “Do you think it’ll do anything?”

I have no idea.  It was born of frustration, and I do not even know how many people will see it.  Currently, at 23 signatures, the petition has already exceeded my expectations, and with so many who are struggling with student loans, I’m sure there will be more signatures.

I’m not sure what happens when we tug at this thread.  I know I would much rather pay off my student loans than file bankruptcy.  But it isn’t fair to trap so many people in excessive debt either, especially when education is for the betterment of everyone– or at least, it is supposed to be.  So, sign the petition and share it.

 

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Though the original case was heard back in 2009, it is now in the headlines because of a civil suit filed by the victims’ mother, and the details have a lot of people understandably and rightfully outraged.

Robert H. Richards IV, a DuPont heir, was convicted in a plea agreement for the rape of his 3-year-old daughter, and he received only probation with a suspended prison term.  No jail time unless he violates his probation.

The sentence was given by Judge Jan Jurden, and was recently said to be based on recommendations by the prosecuting attorney.  In a recent article, Richard D. Kirk, the Chair of the Delaware State Bar said, “Looking at this matter solely from the 2009 perspective, before the private damages lawsuit was filed, virtually everyone would have considered this an appropriate sentence. It was not an unusual sentence under the circumstances presented and would have been available to comparably situated defendants sentenced by this judge and other judges of the Superior Court. Mischaracterizing the 2009 court record as the article did to portray the sentence as somehow inappropriate was unfair to Judge Jurden and the Superior Court.”  (Emphasis is mine.)

I do not know what kind of court system they are running in Delaware, but nobody I have ever known would consider this an appropriate sentence.  And, if we take a look at the tens of thousands of signatures from all over the world on just one of the several petitions to remove Judge Jurden from the bench, I feel confident in saying to Mr. Kirk… “NO, MOST OF US WOULD NOT CONSIDER THE SENTENCE APPROPRIATE!!  And furthermore… What the hell is wrong with you??”

I find it disturbing that this decision is being defended at such high levels.  It makes me (and many others) wonder how deep the corruption/dysfunction goes in Delaware’s legal system.

As a survivor of similar abuse, I know firsthand how devastating and long term the impact can be, not just to the survivors, but to the people around them too.  These children will carry the scars for a lifetime, and my heart breaks for them and for their mother, because they have all been forced to carry this unfair burden, imposed on them by someone unfit to be called “father”, who might never see the inside of a prison cell for his actions.  Their father did not protect them, and neither did the legal system.  Who will these children be able to trust when they are older?

However, there are thousands upon thousands of us who have been standing up for those kids.  Someday, these children will be old enough to find all this information online.  I hope what they see is that there are so many of us, even from so far away, who know they deserve better.  I also hope they ignore the comments people make about how this has “ruined their lives” or “killed their souls”.  While the scars and baggage of this will create very different lives than they might have otherwise had, and while the burden might seem exceeding heavy at times, their souls are still alive and are still theirs.  Though it is true they will never be the same, they will survive, like so many of us do, with no thanks to the monsters in our lives who would try to destroy us.  I hope those kids see that, in spite of all the wrong lessons they learned at such an early age, the world isn’t all bad and there are a lot of kind, caring people.  And, I hope they quickly unlearn all those wrong lessons their “father” taught them.

While Richards may have escaped prison, he can now bear the stigma of the “pedophile” label for the rest of his life.  But it isn’t enough.  I hope his ex-wife wins big in the civil suit.  While the money will not return what was taken from those children, it will at least be some acknowledgement that they were terribly wronged by this animal.  Ideally, they will get everything he owns and he will have to get off his ass and work for a living– and good luck finding a job, now that he’s on the sex offenders’ registry.

As for the judge, if it is true that she was only going on the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney, then they should both be fired.  They obviously have no concept of the lifelong struggle of surviving early childhood abuse, and do not take the protection of the most helpless in society seriously enough.  And, the individual who called this sentence “appropriate” should probably be ousted, too.

When our public servants are no longer protecting us as they should, it is time to get new public servants.

 

 

 


My heart sank this morning reading an article claiming Ai was beginning to “confess” to tax evasion, bigamy, and pornography– not because I believe he is guilty, but because it seems like such a blatant smear tactic by those detaining him.  It is disappointing that such a strong country would need to resort to such tactics.

That article is here: http://t.co/IrSPdWA 

And here is an article outlining the illegality of his treatment and detention: http://t.co/lfjOP9w

While I may agree that the Chinese government has every right to enforce its laws within its boundaries, it seems they do not always comply with the law themselves.  This isn’t necessarily so unusual in any government, but that doesn’t make it right.

Of course, I’m not arrogant or naive enough to believe that the Chinese government gives a rat’s behind what I think.  However, if there is enough sustained global attention, perhaps we can all make a difference. 

Following is a letter I received from change.org regarding the petition to release Ai Weiwei, and the link to the petition.  At last check, it had roughly 70,000 signatures.  Please add yours, if you haven’t already.

Please sign it, and forward it to as many people as possible.  It only takes a minute: 

Dear S.,

Ai Weiwei is the most famous artist in China, best known for his iconic “Bird’s Nest” stadium that was the focal point of the Beijing Olympics. 

Ai has always pushed the envelope, both with his internationally-acclaimed art and with his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government. 

But these past weeks have brought Beijing’s harshest crackdown on dissidents in more than a decade. And on April 3rd, government agents arrested Ai at the Beijing airport and seized papers and computers from his studio.

We don’t know where Ai is now. The Chinese government is holding him on flimsy charges of “economic crimes” — an allegation often used to silence dissenters. 

Twelve leading figures in the international arts world, including the directors of the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, and Tate Museum, have started a petition on Change.org demanding that the Chinese government free Ai Weiwei. 

The regime in Beijing has proven largely resistant to pressure from foreign governments. But they’ve made a huge push to raise China’s profile in the arts — the government just finished building the world’s largest art museum. Widespread condemnation, led by the arts community, may be our best chance to save his life. 

Please sign the petition to free Ai Weiwei as soon as possible:

http://www.change.org/petitions/call-for-the-release-of-ai-weiwei?alert_id=fxCNwgJNhz_VChMOzlvJb&me=aa

Thanks for taking action,

– Weldon and the Change.org team

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