Author Archives: roianna

About roianna

Professionally I am a counselor, but I love writing so much I'd wish I'd given thought to it as a serious career when I was younger. I am liberal Secular Humanist who feels rather estranged from society given that I live in Texas. I married a Catholic of all things, and we have two children, Buddy and Sissy. Buddy has autism, Sissy appears to be developing typically, so things are never boring!

Getting Back on the Horse

I’ve not been able to write here since Betsy DeVos was made the Secretary of Education. While I called my senators daily asking them not to confirm her, given I am represented by Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, they did, and proudly. Now my son is at risk of having less rights than I did growing up. And it just seemed to emphasize the fruitlessness of making any noise until election time. My representatives don’t give a damn about me and ignore me.

And it just emphasized how voiceless I fell right now. Is anyone listening? Does anyone care? Writing about it just felt pointless, another frustration, another way to be ignored and told my thoughts and opinions and things that affect the quality of life for my children and myself do not matter.

Meanwhile, life does continues.

Local elections are coming up. Small beans. But it has to start locally. Currently researching school board candidates and wondering if public schools will ever be accepting places I can feel comfortable sending my son or not. Yet this is where we are. And what is happening is not right.

So I have to get back on the horse and start writing again. I may not be heard, but at least I spoke out.

Are We Asking Too Much of Ourselves?

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Yesterday morning the local UU hosted a discussion on how to reach out to people warped by intolerance and help them to become tolerant. It is a vital discussion, especially given the current climate, but the whole time I was there I felt a critical component was missing. While the information was good and vital, such as don’t mock people’s beliefs, try to find the common ground, etc, several people talked about how they just couldn’t have these conversations without them deteriorating. As I was driving home it hit me. It’s easy to talk about calmly having these discussions with people who hold intolerant viewpoints in a safe setting filled with people who agree with you. It’s another thing to hold them when you hear someone spout hatred, especially if you are, like I am in the southern US, surrounded by people who hold these views.

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The Consequences of Ignoring Science

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While no one in my family is a scientist, I grew up in a science literate family. My parents subscribed to Scientific American and Discover and several other periodicals. Our home library was filled with books written by Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and Stephen Hawking and others. We even attended university lectures with Dr. Gould and Dr. Hawking.

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Lessons From Anne Frank

How many of you read Anne Frank growing up? How many of you cried? How many of you wondered how such atrocities could be allowed to happen? How many of you wondered how so many people could turn their backs on the suffering of others?

Well, if you are against helping the refugees, look in the mirror, and all of those questions will be answered. And Anne Frank’s death becomes meaningless.

Did you know that Otto Frank, Anne’s father, tried desperately to get his family somewhere out of reach of the Nazis, and that included trying to reach America? But because Americans were suspicious of Jewish people and increasingly hostile to foreigners, they were denied entry.

No Asylum, now available on Amazon Prime, is a documentary that tells the story of Mr. Frank’s vain efforts to escape with his family to the US. The most horrifying part of this is that originally the Nazis did not want to kill Jewish people. They wanted them out of their lands. But when other countries that weren’t under Nazi control refused to take them in, then they started to execute Jewish people en mass. This has chilling implications for our time.

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that we can look back on tragedies and honor the people who suffered them by learning from what happened and standing firm while proclaiming, “never again!”

Fortunately, as evidenced by the protests, I believe a lot of people took the lessons of the Holocaust to heart and found meaning in something horrible. This is why Otto Frank spent the last years of his life promoting Anne’s diary, and when we take action we honor his commitment and Anne Frank’s memory, as well as the memory of the 6 million other people, Jews, Roma, LGBT, the disabled, and others, who died. This is where we say never again.

I will be Miep Gies. I will be Johannes Kleiman. I will be Victor Kugler. I will be Bep Voskuijl.

How Fast Liberty Dies

Right now I am in shock at just how quickly Trump’s war on liberty is advancing. I feared it would happen, but I foolishly thought it would advance over a period of months. I did not imagine it would be this bad a week out. The assaults on liberty are numerous that before I can write on one, another happens.

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Undocumented Workers and the Availability Heurestic

There’s a lot going on this week that is alarming. The news that Trump is planning to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented workers is one of them. As someone with a background in psychology, let me explain.

You know how flying an airplane is the safest way to travel but people think it’s dangerous or get nervous flying? Well, the reason is because of the availability heuristic. We think airplanes crashes are common because when they happen, we hear them about them on the news, when in actually, airplanes crashes are rare, which is why they make the news. Meanwhile, car crashes which are extremely common and happen everyday, don’t make the news and people don’t worry about getting into a car, even though it is the most dangerous thing each of us will do on a daily basis.

When I was teaching psychology I would have my students raise their hand if they’d ever been in a car accident versus a plane crash. Most would raise their hand for car crash, but no one had ever been in a plane crash. Even with this, my students would still have a hard time accepting that planes were safe because they could all remember hearing about plane crashes on the news, and not car crashes.

Now, the data tells us that undocumented workers are no more likely to commit crimes than other people, and that they don’t bring waves of crime into the US. Yet if Trump publishes a weekly list singling out undocumented workers, well, think about this in the context of the availability heuristic and put two and two together.

Here it is spelled out. The list goes out, people here about it on a weekly basis, so contrary to what statistics and other evidence tells us, people think undocumented workers cause more crime than they do, and you basically build a scapegoat. Undocumented workers don’t cause crime. The causes of crime are complex and stem from multiple sources. Creating scapegoats will not do anything about crime, but it will create a vulnerable group of people for others to target their anger at.

Bottom line, this is wrong, and the consequences are horrendous to contemplate on.

Ted Cruz Refuses to See Constituents

Yesterday, 28 constituents, tired of being unable to leave messages with Senator Cruz, visited his office to talk with him directly. Not only were they denied permission to see him, go into his office, or talk with his staffers, but they called police to ask them to leave the property. You can see the video here.

After they left, Cruz actually shut down his office for the day.

I later learned that this is not the first time Cruz has shut constituents out of his office.

This is only feeding my belief that my government does not care about my voice or what I think and does not represent me. And that elected officials are doing this is extremely concerning to me. It indicates they feel they do not need to answer to the people.

I have major phone anxiety, but I have been calling my representatives, begging them not to confirm Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. Among many things, she has stated she feels whether to implement IDEA, which is what guarantees children with disabilities and education, should be left to the states. This is done in the so-called name of school choice. Yet private voucher schools don’t have to accept children with disabilities. So what sort of choice is that for families like my own?

Even with IDEA, schools in Texas try to do as little as possible for children with disabilities. They were actually investigated by the Feds at the end of last year for putting illegal caps on how many children could be diagnosed with a disability. I have no doubt that if it is up to the states whether or not to enforce IDEA, then my son’s right to an education goes out the window.

While Buddy is not currently in public school, we are hoping to get there with him someday. And the thought that we may not have that option scares me. Further, I actually care about families with children with disabilities who can’t afford/don’t have the training to pursue alternative methods and will be left with nothing if public schools refuse to take their children.

And bluntly, Cruz’s actions are telling me he does not care what I think and about families like mine. This is not the behavior any elected official should adhere to. The people of Texas are paying his salary and for his office. We deserve to be heard.