Humanity

The stories of the young people changing the world.

Meet Daniela Núñez, The 23 Year Old Mexican Who Wants To Change The Way We Bury People

“What would happen if there were no graveyards and, instead of graveyards, we built paradises?”

That’s the question 23 year-old Mexican college student, Daniela Núñez, asked herself.

This question would become the foundation of her biodegradable urns project and company: BioEternal.

“BioEternal literally started in one of my courses,” Núñez said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “After researching, she found several companies in Spain, Colombia and Argentina that work with biodegradable urns. That’s when she decided she could make a change by bringing the seldom used concept to Mexico.”

After validating the market in Mexico, Daniela noticed that people like BioEternal, not only because of the practice, but also because of the entire experience the product offers.

With the help of partners and guided by professors from her university, she started creating the foundations for her business.

A critical moment for Núñez and BioEternal happened during her fourth semester of college, where she signed up for an I semester.

The I semester is a unique business incubation offered by the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey (ITESM).

“While I was there, BioEternal started moving forward really fast,” Núñez said. “I also faced my biggest challenges. People liked my idea but they kept asking me how I would work with Mexican culture.”

Núñez spoke about the Mexican culture as one of her biggest challenges.

“Mexicans have deep roots in their culture, especially when it comes to death,”
Núñez said. “It’s rare to see practices that differ from what we are used to, or from the typical funerary companies. That part was very complicated and we didn’t know if it would work here in Mexico.”

Daniela Núñez, the founder of BioEternal.

Another challenge Núñez faced while working on Bioeternal was the Catholic Church’s strong presence in Mexico.

“Ad Resurgendum Cum Christo,” a document released in August 2016 signed by Pope Francis states that the ashes of deceased people may not be kept in unholy or unblessed land.

“But after validating the market in Mexico, I realized that people no longer have a strong commitment with the Church,” Núñez said regarding the challenge.

Besides BioEternal, there are five companies that sell biodegradable urns too in her market.

Núñez spoke about Limbo as one of her strongest competitors in Mexico.

“A company that’s already selling and has very good sales is Limbo,” Núñez said. “Their product is something like a sand ball, but their concept and idea is about reintegrating with nature.”

Another company named Colibrí not only work with humans, but also work with animals.

“My plans are to start with humans and then make an approach to the animal market,” Núñez said. “If I started with the animal market, people are going to relate or interpret this practice as something exclusive for animals and that’s not a good idea.”

For Núñez, working with BioEternal has been more than just a way to help the environment.

“It’s very pretty to think about becoming a tree, but that idea is not enough, especially when you’re going through such a complicated stage in your life,” she said.

That’s the reason why Núñez decided to link together her company with the concept of green thanatology.

Without exploring the meaning of life and death, thanatology studies death.

Green thanatology, which is related to liberation, focuses on helping people go through someone’s death with the help of nature.

Companies like Limbo and Colibrí only focus on helping the environment, and this provided Daniela with an area of opportunity.

BioEternal’s focus on healing and its link with thanatology are its main strength and something that puts it beyond its competitors.

Death is not an easy subject to handle.

This is the reason why Daniela not only wants to change processes, but also wants to change experiences.

“It’s no longer an experience of burying a person, but of planting a life,” Núñez said. “Let’s make it beautiful. I want people to be able to keep these memories. That’s one reason why Bioeternal is named that way, because it’s an eternal memory.”

Setting up her company has not been easy and, currently, Núñez’s bigger challenge is money.

Producing a large number of biodegradable urns and signing up for this year’s national funerary convention are big and necessary expenses for her.

“I’m out of resources and I’m going to need help from crowdfunding,” Núñez said.

Núñez said that her long term goals are about making her own funerary company and a Bioeternal park.

“I don’t want families to go to a graveyard. I want this to be a friendly concept in which people visit a forest and visit their own tree because that’s much more attractive and pretty,” Núñez said.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

A Refugee’s Life: Rape, Pirate Attacks And Cannibalism

By CieCie Tuyet Nguyen

I often wonder what my life would have been like if I was not a refugee.

On the other hand, what would have become of me had I not spent my childhood in a war-torn country, in a war that seemed to be forever a background to my memories?

Those questions and those ‘ifs’ are not for me to contemplate,as I would not be able to change history or be born anywhere but Vietnam.

However, it is not to say that my childhood was full of images of war, atrocities, death, mass graves or miseries.

There was happiness and joy. I had loved being together with my siblings, catching the double-wing like yoyo fruits in front of my house, running wild with the wind and gathering fallen dead leaves to set up a mischievous campfire.

Being with friends after school wandering the streets of Saigon enjoying street food was enough. It was simple, a few moments to let loose, albeit momentarily.

Although in hindsight, there was never a complete picture of happiness or joy with sunshine, laughter, and contentment, as peace was an important but absent part of that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

I had never felt fully at ease, or in other words, completely carefree.

That was before the war ended. When bombing, gunfire, and fighting had ceased.

Then peace arrived.

Finally, that missing piece was found to replace the empty space in my picture. Horribly and strangely, other pieces began to disappear. Freedom, then prosperity, dignity, and kindness were taken away swiftly.

They were replaced with oppression, poverty, degradation, and revenge that left peace a lonely part in my peculiar jigsaw puzzle, like a pitiful hostess in an empty house full of ghosts.

I could not understand it at all.

Without realising it, what I had wished for dearly had destroyed everything I valued most before.

Perhaps it was my fault that my childhood was scarred. My sensitivity and perception of life was too acute back then.

Moreover, they still are now.

See, I can taste the sweetness of freedom and touch the holy peace every day, every morning now, then feel alive and complete.

Years of living with freedom and peace in Australia has transformed my being to accept them readily but not to take them for granted.

The scars are my reminders.

I was born with a photographic memory.

Some would have said, “You’re lucky!” Ah, I would proudly have expanded my chest fully and answered, “Yes, I am.”

Even though there were images or memories I would gladly let fade away quietly and set me free.

Then I could have pretended that I had once been a child living happily and contentedly in a carefree environment with cute baby dolls to play with during the day and sweet dreams every night.

Not in a refugee camp, where I had spent a brief three months when I was sixteen, full of sad stories and images that I could have lived without.

That morning on the crammed boat escaping from Vietnam, I remember standing on the upper deck next to my mother, clinging tightly to her, feeling dejected and full of shame when the Malaysian coast guards shouted angrily at us, shooing our boat away in disgust.

The little riverboat, barely 10 metres long, 3 metres wide, had served its life miraculously attempting to deliver 50 people to shore.

It then had to resume its journey to some unknown destination because the refugees were not accepted there.

I stood there and cried.

Tears of shame and hopelessness were silently rolling down my cheeks as gunshots fired rapidly in the air, scaring the bunch of battered and wearied boat people away.

It was only at that moment I had realised I was a stateless person, a nobody, a refugee.

As a small child, I had never understood the real horror and suspense of trying to escape by boat to sea.

I was full of hope and anticipation before my departure. I grew up very quickly during that seven-day voyage.

I escaped from my country, away from the barbaric treatment of the communists.

I survived a sea full of stormy turbulence and remained relatively unscathed from two pirate attacks.

Then the Malaysian authority refused to let our boat anchor on their shore. I could not understand the coast guards’ language but their gesticulations were enough. I was rejected!

An equally devastating feeling of hopelessness had resurfaced, as much as when my boat was rolling madly like a tiny egg in a giant boiling saucepan in the storms a few days ago.

Why must I leave my country? Were freedom and peace worthy of my sacrifice of being a stateless person?

Those were the questions that I dared to answer because without gaining freedom and peace,followed by human rights, dignity and prosperity, my life would have been a waste.

I would have felt miserable being a refugee for nothing.

Indeed, I am glad that I have been a refugee once in my life. Mind you, once is enough!

The experience came with a high price and for some of us that included death by drowning at sea; witnessing family members raped, murdered by pirates; or being stranded for months on an island and becoming a cannibal to survive.

I am lucky that I am here right now.

Back then there were times I thought I was not.

I was miserable. Assimilating into a new country with nothing familiar to the old world I had left behind was a struggle.

I cringed every time thinking if I had to do it again.

It was no fun at all and that added to my lost childhood years.

I would love to be sixteen again as an Australian, but definitely not a refugee.

There were times I thought I would like to keep my old world with me, to go home, or to “go back to your country,” as I was told many times in the beginning by the locals. It hurt and I cried a lot, being a silly sensitive person as I was.

In hindsight, I now know a refugee must take that obvious path. Just like a book with a prologue, a main story and an epilogue.

I must take various paths and go through various chapters to re-establish myself.

It was not fun in some chapters, but I think I can differentiate happiness and grief philosophically now!

Gradually, I was accepted and I often reminded myself that I could not possibly be comfortable and at ease in my newly adopted homeland until I acclimatised successfully.

I was uprooted from my familiar though wretched environment and I needed time to get accustomed to my new land to grow stronger.

It was not easy. I had to make efforts to stay afloat.

There were language, cultural, and social rules that seemed so bizarre to me, probably as much as the locals viewed mine.

There were times I thought I had lost my identity and I tried desperately to retain it by keeping everything the way it was.

However, time passes, and so I have evolved.

I have become a Vietnamese-Australian to the extent that I cannot go ‘home’ because home is now here.

I  lost my identity as a Vietnamese, but I have gained a different one.

There were times when that concept was not visible to me.

I felt confused. Now, I am proud of my heritage but I no longer need to be a Vietnamese, because I am not living in Vietnam.

There is no more pressure for me and I am glad of my new identity, as I do not want my children to go through my experience.

They should not have to struggle with that disorientation.

They are Australians.

They must feel like Australians with the local language, culture, and social rules even though those are less bizarre to me now.

I would not want my children to feel alienated in their own home. They are Australians, luckier and richer with an extra bonus heritage in their background.

CieCie Tuyet Nguyen was born in Saigon and witnessed its fall in 1975 when she was 13-years-old. After continuing to live there for three years under the communist regime, she escaped with her family by boat to Malaysia in 1978. After staying in a Pulau Besar Refugee camp for three months, she resettled in Sydney, Australia, where she has remained ever since. She graduated with a bachelor of pharmacy in 1985 from Sydney University and has operated her own pharmacy since 1989. Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom is her first novel. For more information about Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom, you can visit Nguyen’s website or Facebook page.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Ani Bashar/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Start Up To Offer Incentives To Get Lawyers To Provide Veterans Free Services

This piece is from Jurbid, a legal start up. 

They serve and protect – the legal profession fails them. Veterans in need.

While today should not be the only day we honor the fearless and brave men and women who protect our great country and ensure that we can go about our lives safely, it is an important day to take note how we fail them at home.

Currently, there are nearly 40,000 homeless veterans. In fact, veterans make up nearly 20% of the male homelessness population.

Sadly, women veterans are the fastest growing homeless population in the US.

Women veterans are four times as likely to become homeless as male counterparts!

Per several sources, New York and Florida have among the highest veteran homelessness population in the country.

It is estimated that there are 3,500 homeless veterans in New York City alone! In Central Florida, there are about 4,500 homeless veterans.

Why are so many veterans homeless you may wonder?

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-9-53-17-am

They are often unemployed and disconnected from their families upon their return home because of mental illness and substance abuse.

They are simply not given the proper support to be re-integrated in civilian life.

They don’t know how to apply for social benefit programs that are designed to help them.

Lawyers are trained to provide such services and can ensure that veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Currently, there is very little legal support for them.

How can we as proud Americans live with ourselves knowing that these veterans are in dire need of support and help and they receive none?

Jurbid will make a stand.

Starting today, Jurbid will provide the lawyers in its network incentives to provide pro bono services to veterans including free or discounted services.

Additionally, all veterans will receive a 5% discount off their paid legal service.

We are here for you because you have been there for us.

With much respect and love.

Your Jurbid Team.

Jurbid is your legal connection. Our innovative platform connects you with top quality legal counsel. From employment disputes to immigration. You can learn more at www.jurbid.com

This piece is part of the RISE NEWS Marketplace, a place where startups and other companies can post articles about what they are up to. If you would like your company to be included, please email editor@risenews.net.

Cover Photo Credit: Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Uruguay/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Will Filipino Domestic Workers Soon Be Banned To Clean Windows In Hong Kong?

By Raphael Blet

HONG KONG- Last week, the Philippines consulate announced that they secured a deal with the Hong Kong government to ban Filipino domestic workers from cleaning windows outside high rise buildings.

Following this announcement, some employer’s groups expressed their concern and requested the government to postpone the ban as they were not consulted.

Some cited the ‘inconvenience’ of such a ban and asked the government some additional time.

On Friday afternoon, the Labour Department released a statement in which it said that the revision will be suspended for one month citing the necessity to strike a balance between the worker’s safety and the interest of employers.

The consulate, which is in charge of adding clauses in the contracts, agreed to postpone the ban.

Read More: There’s A Bleak Outlook For Artists And Businesses In Industrial buildings

Meanwhile, some domestic workers expressed their concern and disappointment.

“We didn’t come here to make our life dangerous. If employers want to clean their window [from outside], they should hire a professional window cleaner,” Josie, a domestic worker told RISE NEWS. “Personally, I didn’t encounter safety issues. I am living in the sixth floor and it’s fine for me to clean the window because there is a grill. I feel safe.”

Asked about the postponement of the ban, she expressed her disappointment pointing on the fact that safety should be a priority.

“I feel very disappointed with the postponement of the ban,” Josie, who declined to give her last name said. “There is no need for them [the government] to think about it, we need our safety first.”

The government’s final decision is yet unclear but many who oppose the potential ban are doubtful about the last verdict as they believe that it will not be in their favor.

Read More: Does The American Fulbright Program Have Too Much Control Over Hong Kong Universities?

While this is issue is still hotly debated in Hong Kong, Singapore started to ban all domestic workers from cleaning the exterior of windows in 2012.

Many believe that the Filipino consulate should not be in charge of this issue but that – instead – the Hong Kong government should have the sole responsibility to insure the safety of domestic workers.

For many years, Hong Kong has been strongly criticized for the unequal treatment given to its domestic helpers.

Read More: What The Walk21 Conference Taught Me About The Future Of Hong Kong

Some helpers were reportedly abused by their employers who took advantage of their vulnerability.

Migrant unions have recently called on the government to give a better treatment to foreign domestic helpers.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

You can also like our RISE NEWS Hong Kong Facebook page to stay engaged with our local coverage. 

Cover Photo Credit: Barbara Willi/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Cruel Reality Of Finding Love While Studying Abroad

By Caitlin Roberts

Our love was easy.

Our love was what both of us had always been searching for, and when I left him in the Paris Metro station that day, I really believed that the two of us would survive a year apart, but it was not that cut and dry.

It soon became this messy cluster of depression, missed phone calls, and living in this constant state of missing each other.

It destroyed us from the inside out and it led to him saying to me, “I think that we may have run our course.”

What I ultimately learned over this past year and some change, is that a long-distance relationship, with an ocean standing between the two of us, could be one of the worst decisions either of us have ever made, yet neither of us regret any of it.

Almost every girl dreams about going abroad and having the cliché, tall, dark and handsome man sweep them off their feet, but I never thought it would actually happen to me.

Something like that only happens in dreams, right?

So, when I arrived in London to spend a semester abroad, the last thing I thought would happen was to meet the love of my life.

When I met him, I had only been in the city for six days.

Hell, I had only gone to one class.

I just kept asking myself, “How is this happening to me?”

Our first conversation was about drinking tea and discussing history like we were invited by Catherine the Great of Russia to one of her salons in the 1700s.

That just completely knocked the wind out of me.

Not only did I meet a handsome English boy six days into my trip, I met one that loved history as much as I did and wanted to discuss it with me over tea.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven and that was only the beginning of the best, and simultaneously the worst, thing that has ever occurred in my life.
Just when I thought things could not get any better, January 24, 2015 happened.

We spent the whole day shopping, eating lunch, flirting and just enjoying each other’s company.

It was that day when I realized that I was in love with him.

I was head over heels, for lack of a better term, in love with him.

Only two weeks had gone by and we were almost inseparable and I honestly thought I was crazy for feeling this way.

How could I know for sure after only two weeks?

Later that night, after we had way too much to drink with his friends and I was successful in having them all yell “Roll Tide” when we took tequila shots at a bar in Clapham, we were standing out in the cold air drunkenly goofing off waiting for our Uber to arrive.

I had said something completely ridiculous and he responded with a jovial laugh and said, “This is why I love you,” and pulled me closer to him.

Without hesitation, I responded by laughing and saying, “I love you too.”

For the first week after that night, we were very noncommittal with “I love you,” because we were both wary about saying it too soon, but it felt right so finally we said it.

We both put it out there, even though we were not sure who actually said it first on the street a few nights before or whether that one counted.

We said it sober instead of just texting the uncertain “I <3 you” and decided to embark on the greatest and most fulfilling relationship either of us had ever had.

The next three months were filled with too much netflix, The Simpsons, debating over whether or not putting Nesquik in milk was considered a milkshake, and going on dates to places like the Churchill War Rooms.

I felt so alive.

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D'Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D’Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

I felt so safe and sure of myself.

Being with him gave me so much confidence to just be me and go after what I wanted.

He supported me and was genuinely interested in everything I had to say, even if I did talk about my love for Kate Middleton too much.

He loved me for me and wasn’t asking me to change a thing.

I didn’t feel like I needed to be someone I wasn’t, just to make him stick around.

My friends back home quickly noticed my change in demeanor.

I would light up whenever I would talk about him.

I was not trying to find faults that would allow me a way out, like I had done with every other guy I had ever been romantically involved with in the past.

This time was different and I really thought that this one was going to stick.

Fast forward to May of 2015, and my friends had arrived for our month long trip through Europe.

We checked off our eight days in London and the next stop was Paris.

He joined us for the last three of our five days and when I had to say goodbye to him on the afternoon of May 14, you could have thought that one of us was dying or that we were never going to see each other again.

The second thought could have honestly not been too far off.

We had only spent four months together, which has never seemed like a lot in retrospect, yet we both felt as if we were losing someone we had known for years.

We felt like we were losing a part of us and we didn’t know if we were ever going to get it back.

We stood there in the metro station, holding each other while constant waves of tears rolled down the shapes of our faces.

For me, no one else was there.

It was just the two of us, cherishing the last time we would physically feel our love for each other for half a year.

Then, it was over.

We both went our separate ways and embarked on the dreaded long-distance relationship that so many people avoid at all costs.
“I have searched so long for the perfect girl for me,” he said. “And now that I have found her, I’m never letting you go.”

The next six months were awful in the sense that I was alone most of the time even though I was surrounded by friends who were constantly trying to cheer me up.

None of it seemed to work.

My body was constantly bogged down with an overwhelming sadness and I sunk into a state of depression that I had seen in others, but never experienced myself.

Facetime sessions, phone calls, and texts that read “I miss you,” and “I love you,” were becoming too much.

I was not only sad, but I was angry.

I couldn’t understand how I could find someone that I thought was perfect for me and I wasn’t able to be with them.

I was becoming bitter and angry because I was just so sick and tired of missing him.

Things on his end, 4,300 miles away, were just about the same.

We wanted so badly to make this thing that both of us had searched for, for so long work, but it seemed like it was only getting harder everyday.

November 14 is when he left Alabama after coming to visit me for two weeks.

After that date, nothing seemed to be going right.

Sweet, loving conversations turned into screaming matches over things that did not matter and times when both of us would spend half of our day angry at one another because we were six hours apart in time.

We began to rip apart what was left of this, piece by piece like animals.

Then, my visit in March, marked the end.

Something had been off for a really long time and it had driven a wedge between us.

Our Titanic hit the iceberg and started going down fast, but unlike the original, there were only two casualties this time.

Now, I have to ask myself, “How will I manage to get over him?,” because I never imagined that this would be the outcome.

I imagined it lasting for much longer, and possibly forever, but now I am seeing that some things are not meant to last, no matter how much you want them to.

I still love him with every inch of me and I can’t say I regret us, because I would be lying.

Part of me hopes that when I move to London later this month, our timing will be right this time.

Maybe in this version of the Titanic, Jack and Rose survive the turmoil and overcome everything that is thrown at them, but I absolutely cannot throw my life away by putting all that I have onto a sinking ship.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Infographic: What Will The Earth Look Like In 50 Years?

state-of-the-earth-50years

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Dako Huang/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Former Wall Streeter Who Found Faith Says He Has Answer For Global Problems

By Clifford Michaels

We are in a time when the human spirit is being challenged.

The choices we make as a society will be felt for many years to come.

Our focus must change from self to each other, and this applies to the global community, as well.

This is a time for taking inventory of our purpose and what we want from life as individuals and a civilization…beyond material needs and what our egos perceive they need to feel satisfied.

It is a time to reach out and help others in need.

Whether we admit it or not, many of us need emotional healing in one form or another, and we need this healing from other people; money does not do this.

As we heal, our hearts naturally open more and become an empowering source of support for others.

This sets an example and becomes an opportunity for others to see and emulate the loving, unifying behavior.

All that matters is what is within your heart; this is what God sees.

If your life is filled with love, it doesn’t’ matter how many possessions you have. Love is true currency and something that can be shared and passed on to others.

As others receive your love, it shifts them closer to their purpose and enables the love to be passed on again and again, creating a chain that gains more strength with each link that is added.

Eventually, this chain can circle the world over and over again.

Many in the world, in the name of power and control, restrict human rights, even killing, torturing, and manipulating others for personal gain.

Not only does this prevent those being hurt from fulfilling their destiny, it is a great setback for those using power irresponsibly.

Nation upon nation rising with swords and, still worse, swords upon their own citizens spreads fear and hinders our ability to evolve as a civilization.

We as a global community have a responsibility to act together.

Too often it is the same countries that get involved, such as the United States acting alone or with just a few other partners.

All nations need to act in unison to stop the violence and bloodshed all over the planet, or it will keep popping up where it sees weakness.

Those who attain power are presented with an opportunity for personal growth, as well as having a larger-scale impact to guide history.

There are powerful leaders in countries throughout the world that can exercise their will, and their ego, and make decisions that impact millions of people.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former prime minister of the Soviet Union, put his ego aside and set an example for humanity by granting freedom to millions of people who were imprisoned by the Iron Curtain.

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was on the opposite end of the spectrum, and he paid for it with his life.

Those who are leaders have the potential to further both individual and global evolution with the choices they make.

How they deal with that responsibility is what is at stake here on a personal as well as a soul level.

Often it is fear that causes people to do horrible things they otherwise could never conceive of.

Fear-motivated behavior goes on throughout the world and its used for justifying decisions, and these consequences affect many innocent people.

Since everything is energy, the darker emotions of fear, violence, hate, anger, and desire for revenge can be passed to others as well as can specific physical actions.

Once in power, even initially well-meaning people often fear giving up control. We see it in a variety of circumstances in business and politics.

We see it every day in larger settings with leaders of countries. The atrocities that have been discovered throughout history are hard to even grasp.

Too often, it appears that some leaders have focused upon themselves and lost the ability to feel empathy or compassion for the people.

In their greed to hold on to tor expand their power, they lose their human kindness and respect for life as if they are above it all.

The truth is that there is really nothing to fear, so all these fear-based actions are not necessary or productive.

Human existence is a temporary state for learning and not our eternal, continuous identity.

When we leave this material form, we return to the bigger part of who we really are. Fear fills us with a false identity; it takes over when we believe we are less than we are.

What you do and how you treat others is what you become – there is no escape.

You cannot kill another person for personal gain and think you are not affected by this.

You cannot just expect to arrive home, tuck your baby in to sleep, and kiss your wife goodnight as if nothing had happened – who you are and what you have done will be felt by all those around you.

Likewise, you cannot be a leader of a country making wholesale decisions to end others’ lives and destroying families you feel are a threat, and then show up at the United Nations with a smile and a handshake, then return again to your country to use lethal force everywhere you see fit.

In time, this behavior has its own repercussions.

These decisions will follow you beyond this life, and you will ultimately have to make amends to all you have wronged.

As Russell Crowe so well expressed in the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, in the movie Gladiator, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

Too many fail to believe we are eternal beyond our physical existence.

Once we embrace this reality we will better understand the deeds we do in this life, and what is in our hearts, will follow us into the Hereafter.

Our lives are a learning exercise designed to help us evolve and to help develop our souls.

There is great power in unity should we choose to embrace it. Let us have more faith in each other to find peaceful solutions for solving our difficulties.

Clifford Michaels started his career as a Wall Street trader before moving into private practice. He has a B.S. in finance from Syracuse University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. Following a reluctant journey of self-discovery, he developed the sensitivity to interact with the heavenly realm and now has one foot planted firmly in two worlds. Harnessing Heaven is Michaels’ first book. 

Learn more and connect with the author at www.harnessingheaven.comTwitter and Facebook.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: m01229/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Breastfeeding As A Vegan: It Really Can Be Healthy

There has been a lot of controversy as to whether or not veganism is safe if the mother is breastfeeding her child, and the Internet sure does a great job of scaring moms into believing that they could hurt their child with their dietary preferences.

But this is a misconception.

A recent trending story described a mother whose infant had died at 11 months old.

The allegation was that the mother had deprived the baby of nutrients because she was breastfeeding while maintaining a vegan diet.

The story caused an outburst of fear and anger among the breastfeeding community all across the Internet and raised questions as to whether or not this diet was acceptable while feeding your child with your own milk.

2553744790_b2a62dc024_z

Photo Credit: Bart Everson/Flickr (2.0 by CC)

The story has not only caused outrage towards vegan breastfeeding mothers, it has also called into question whether veganism is acceptable for children in general.

A different story argued that a 12-year-old girl was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disorder due to her veganism.

This story induced a growing opinion that dictates that vegan diets fail to provide adequate vitamins and nutrients.

However, the Mayo Clinic, among others have explained that while a vegan diet limits the foods rich in protein, it does not expel them.

While it may be more challenging to find the right foods to eat, it is not impossible, and many vegans are successfully healthy individuals.

Being vegan does not mean that your child will be nutrient deficient as long as you maintain a healthy diet.

It is the same as any breastfeeding mother’s mantra, if you only eat potato chips and fatty pork loin, you and your child will not receive the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. It is about balance and knowing what foods are healthy; it is not about eating meat.

9041948559_ae975fe9d8_z

Photo Credit: Olearys/Flickr (2.0 by CC)

I spoke with a vegan mother on the topic: she is well educated about veganism and the nutritional value of the foods she eats.

She recently had a baby who prefers his bottle to breastfeeding.

She explained that many babies prefer a bottle because it is much easier for drinking.

Though she may pump regularly, many women still need to use formula to ensure that their infant has enough milk around the clock.

As a vegan, this can be a difficult situation.

There are a few organizations in which women share or donate their breast milk to mothers who are unable to provide enough for their child.

Though it is well regulated, there are always risks with using a stranger’s milk.

If this is not an appealing option, there are many cows’ milk formulas that mothers can use.

However, if you are vegan, it can be challenging to decide whether or not this is an acceptable option.

And if you decide to take advantage of this alternative, it is likely to be ridiculed by other vegans.

So vegan mothers are truly between a rock and a hard place. Breastfeeding has become taboo in our society.

People are offended if a women breastfeeds her child in public, and others are offended if a woman decides not to breastfeed at all.

This communal reprimanding disrupts the personal decisions of a mother and allows others to dictate how a woman should care for her child.

9121244018_927c53fc94_z

Photo Credit: Chris Alban Hansen/Flickr (2.0 by CC)

A vegan mother is not depriving her child of nutrients as long as she is healthy, just like any other good mom.

The problem is not veganism as a dietary preference, but rather the amount of information accessible to people for the diet to be healthy.

As society has progressed, information about nutrition has improved and expanded. However, because veganism is a fairly new growing diet in this country, there is less information about nutrition.

A community has flourished online to give people information about the right foods to eat in order to properly support this lifestyle, but overall, this country is seriously lacking in its support for veganism as a whole.

Instead of progressing towards a whole and well-rounded model of vegan nutrition, people have deemed it insufficient and dangerous.

But we aren’t talking about some fleeting cultural fad, we are talking about a dietary life choice, and it should not be negated.

Breastfeeding your child is a personal matter, and the only thing that matters is that your child is well nourished and healthy.

Whether you do it in public, privately, with the nutrients from meat, or something else, the only thing that should matter is that your child is taken care of.

Veganism, just like any other diet with or without restrictions, is safe as long as the individual is well educated and eats in a healthy and nutritional manner.

Instead of reprimanding this quality of our culture, veganism should be studied and vegans should be supported in a way that helps them live healthily.

If society is going to continue to tell women how to eat and feed their babies, they mind as well be educated enough to give intelligent directions.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Liz Davenport/ Flickr (2.0 by CC)

“Women Against Feminism” Is A False Flag

There is a dangerous ignorance within society today. Quietly walking amongst the city workers, the college students, and the children at play, it creeps through America and infects every individual; its name is sexism.

We live in a society divided by philosophy, wealth, race, age, sexuality, and gender, and lately it appears that some of the population is attempting to keep it this way.

The new wave feminists of the 21st century have endured immense ridicule. They have been coined as “man-haters”, “oppressive”, and many other terms that essentially declare feminists abhorrence for men and women who support traditional gender roles.

This new wave of ridicule is not only incorrect it is unproductive.

There is a Facebook page called “Women Against Feminism” that has become popular in recent years. Its followers are mostly millennial women declaring their objections to modern feminism. However, the “feminism” that these women are attacking does not exist. Instead, it promotes a warped idea of modern feminist goals by reprimanding feminists for so called beliefs that are “anti-male” and “destructive to society”

When feminism began, it started out as a declaration against controversial and unequal qualities of society in which women were politically, socially, economically, and philosophically lesser or unequal to men.

These same ideals, though different, are still the intentions of modern feminists. Their goal is to seek political and social change in order for women to be equal to their male counterparts in the workplace, at home, and in social settings.

As Cheris Kramarae would say, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings”. However, this new wave of anti-feminism does not see it this way.

Antifeminism is an ideology that believes that all or some aspects of feminism overemphasize gender inequality and a patriarch society.

This belief has existed since the inception of feminism in the 1800s; however, today’s anti-feminists not only disagree with feminism, but they feel attacked by the movement due to a misconception of modern feminism’s convictions.

Like this? You can write for us too

Today, young women against feminism feel that the movement is trying to control the female gender and steer all women in a very specific direction with regards to their social and work environments.

Here is what one antifeminist comment reads on their Facebook page:

“I’m a woman against feminism. I do not fear my femininity. I actually like it. I feel no need to be masculine”.

Somewhere along the road, antifeminists began feeling as though feminists were against being feminine.

There is a crisis in this country in which women are repeatedly ridiculed for either being too focused on their appearance, or not enough.

Just look at Hilary Clinton during this presidential election.

Aside from Donald Trumps repetitive sexists comments, the media has focused on her outfits, her makeup, her hair, etc… and she is just one of the millions of women that face the same kind of speculation every day.

519915720_0aad9d3838_z

Photo Credit: istolethetv/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Feminists are not against feminine women, in fact, they are quite indifferent towards them.

To be “feminine” is a piece of our discourse that describes how “womanlike” an individual looks and behaves.

Femininity as well as masculinity is a social construction that divides the sexes by creating a specific identity that represents an entire gender.

That is exactly what feminists do not want. Instead, they want women and men to be judged by their intelligence, their personalities, and their individual identities.

Whether or not a woman is “feminine” is entirely beside the point and has nothing to do with modern feminist ideology.

Now that we have cleared that up, here is a different line of reasoning from the “Women Against Feminism” page:

“I think the whole “strong independent woman, who don’t need no man” mentality is ridiculous. Where would women be without men? Men built just about everything […] the new wave of feminism is demonizing men and turning them away from women”.

This comment is terrifying.

A very sad and popular belief is that women have followed in men’s footsteps since the beginning of time.

However, true history proves that this is incorrect. Fore example, Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist and crucial historical figure during the 1800s. She is one of the most influential people in our history and if anything, men followed in her footsteps.

In today’s world, Malala Yousafazai has changed female education in Pakistan and advocated for women’s rights in a world that does everything it can to prevent female freedom.

Michelle Obama has made tremendous strides towards improving education for girls as a primary issue in the discourse of women’s rights. She has done so separate from her husband.

If you want more examples of independently outstanding women, check out this eloquent article that features just some of the greats.

These women are fighting for equal opportunity, not a female takeover of the world. And they are certainly not demonizing men.

This isn’t about men being evil and women being victims, this is about a systematic, ongoing double standard in which women have to work harder to be accepted in their workplace, only to receive unequal pay from that of their male counterparts.

They must dress and look a certain way in order to gain respect, and then, dress in the opposite way in order to attract a man. A women’s life in modern society is filled with boundaries, rules, and constrictions; while her male counterparts rarely face the same obstacles.

In her most recent work of art, Beyoncé asks:

 Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a God? […] Are you a slave to the back of his head? Am I talking about you husband or your father? 

Sexism is a quiet toxin that oozes throughout the world, and solidifies itself within our society.

It is deeply rooted in our culture, in our history, and in our identities. Men have always dominated human evolution and women have always fought so hard to be heard and respected within that world.

This year women will finally be included on the face of our currency; and it is only now that a woman might be president.

25944235844_b5e9a512b9_z

Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This isn’t about hating men it is about supporting women. Men will not loose anything if women gain more equal opportunity.

If anything, society will thrive. Just to show how crazy the U.S. is for hindering women from the same advantages men receive, even Saddam Hussein “advocated” for equal opportunity:

“Women make up one half of society. Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated”

Scary right? I know that is a controversial quote to use, but it sure illuminates how bizarre the U.S’s objection to modern feminism appears. If a woman spends so much time having to worry about appearance and is never treated with the same respect as the men in her workplace, she cannot be an equally productive member of society. There are too many things asked of women that are not expected of men, and that is a fact, which is detrimental to a community as a whole.

Yet, to avoid being coined as “man-hating” it is important to reiterate that the goal is gender equality.

Modern feminism wants to end the sexual objectification and gender sterotypes of women and men alike.

Antifeminists have argued that modern feminists are against marriage, and promote “hook-up culture” in protest to traditional gender norms. But again, this is not the case. If anything it’s antifeminists that constrict women and their role in the dating world.

In Observer magazine, an article declared that feminists encourage women to “forgo monogamy”. The article argues that hook-up culture, supported by feminists allows men to use apps in place of women:

“With the rise of technology men can outsource everything women were traditionally known for to their iPhone apps. If they’re hungry they can use seamless, if they’re horny they can use Tinder. The only thing they still need us for? Babies.”

This disturbing argument perpetuates traditional gender roles by proclaiming that women’s job is to please men.

Women use tinder to have sex for their own benefit too. To state that men use these apps in place of women is to say that women are objects for men to use. The quote so, (please excuse my sarcasm) eloquently ends by explaining women’s primary duty to their man, to provide him with a child. So I guess technology hasn’t found a way to completely outsource women.

7544423608_3a444a6b48_z

Photo Credit: Mikel Garcia Idiakez/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This kind of way of thinking is extremely detrimental to everyone.

A post on the Women Against Feminism page reads:

“Feminists just love to hate everyone, especially women who prefer traditional gender roles. […] The human race would not survive if it weren’t for mothering women.”

This misconception that feminists hate motherhood has created a problematic dichotomy between equal opportunity, and being a mom. This is certainly not a binary intended by feminists.

Being a mother does not make you the enemy of feminism. Feminism is working towards creating equal opportunity for women with or without children.

In fact, the Huffington Post wrote an article about a feminist movement that is not only advocating for assured paid medical leave for mothers, but they are also trying to get paternity leave for fathers. The article gives an example of a law firm that has begun allowing paternity leave, which has ended up increasing the amount of female partners in their firm!

Efforts to close the gender gap are not accomplished by belittling males, but through supporting both genders equally. Modern feminism, like any movement, is not perfect, however the accusations made against this discourse are inaccurate and distract from the progress that society is making towards a more equal environment.

You don’t have to be a feminist, whatever the reasons against it may be, but certainly, everyone can agree that protesting a movement through a misrepresentation of their principles is a step in the wrong direction for humanity.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Managing Debt: The Lesson College Grads Don’t Learn In College, But Can’t Survive Without

By Bernard Hampton, Bank of America Region Executive

In a few weeks, nearly two million graduating college students across the country will be clutching their degrees and entering the workforce.

But an estimated two out of three will start out with the looming hardship of paying off student debt as they launch their post-college lives. In fact, the 2014 graduating class from Florida colleges saw debt increase 32 percent compared to the debt carried in 2004.

So while graduates may have immersed themselves in computer engineering, business and political science, few have earned even a single credit on what is likely their most immediate and toughest test: their financial burdens.

To combat this challenge, decision makers in our community must be called on to help manage student debt and find solutions to financially empower and strengthen the next generation.

The only effective way to make a difference is to acknowledge that by the time we address the needs and challenges that college grads face, it is already too late.

The tenants of financial literacy should be learned at a young age in order to arm people with resources and knowledge to set them up for financial success as an adult.

It’s critical that the public, private and nonprofit sectors join forces in this endeavor.

In fact, last summer the Florida Legislature made an amendment to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include financial literacy in Social Study Standards for K-12 grade students.

Bank of America’s partnerships with organizations like Year Up Miami, City Year, Teach for America and the I Have a Dream Foundation of Miami also help bring critical financial literacy to disadvantaged youth, offering students a unique opportunity at a young age to learn the basics of managing money.

In addition, the United Way’s ALICE Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) is an excellent tool local United Way teams use to better understand the needs of the communities they serve as well as the reasons people may be struggling financially.

Through this resource report, the organization is working to better understand those that are falling short and the immense challenges that they are facing in effort to better serve them and provide realistic and viable solutions to help them succeed.

Today, many young people, including college graduates, are living paycheck-to-paycheck and just trying to stay afloat, working long hours, or are single parents and they tend to not seek out help until they are facing a crisis.

The bottom line is, most of them haven’t been given the tools needed to be effective at budgeting, saving and eliminating credit issues. Instead, they tend to get deeper into a hole that becomes harder and more overwhelming to get out of.

BetterMoneyHabits.com is a great resource, providing real, practical knowledge in order to support those that want to begin making confident decisions when it comes to money and debt.

That’s why it is so critical to help break down intimidating topics and talk through simple steps to take – such as creating an action plan for getting out of debt or what one’s options are in an emergency cash situation.

Aware of the support our local partners provide to those living paycheck to paycheck, we’re working at the grassroots level to distribute this content directly to them.

This issue will remain one of the most critical for the next generation, and we will all need to continue to think about how we can work together to ensure students’ financial success.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Cory M. Grenier/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Scroll to top