What’s It All About?

Senior student Caroline Dillon has created a new blog “Under Lock and Key” to be hosted by Religious and Spiritual Life’s larger blog “This I Believe.” The title “Under Lock and Key” grew out of a troubling sentiment about male versus female sexual behavior Caroline heard circulating campus: A good key can unlock many locks, while a bad lock is unlocked by many keys.

With the help of Allison Lanza, Associate Chaplain, Caroline hopes to explore and promote awareness of the sexual double standard on campus.  The sexual double standard is understood by gender scholars Kreager and Staff as a social phenomenon by which “sexual behaviors are judged differently depending on the gender of a sexual actor.”

This project is not about assessing the morality or ethics of sexuality but instead to reconcile and rectify the underlying mindsets that place undo scrutiny and pressure on females to conform to an often impossible standard. By constructing a safe place for people to share their personal experiences and beliefs, we hope to foster an understanding community of like-minded individuals who can support each other and raise consciousness. The blog, “Under Lock and Key”, hopes to accomplish this goal.

We look forward to your stories and submissions.

I believe in getting yourself in over your head

Author: Alexis Lohse, TCU Student, Political Science Major, Published Fall 2012

I believe in getting yourself in over your head. I can say with all honesty that the best decisions in my life have been made during situations of extreme discomfort or duress. These have been times when I was confronted with new and sometimes frightening circumstances, often of my own making and sometimes quite intentional. Eleanor Roosevelt once quipped, “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” Thanks to these trials, I have learned the true strength of my intelligence, patience, and perseverance.

The first time I was truly tested was at the age of 23 when I was married to an alcoholic and became pregnant. Up to that point, my life had been an aimless string of events and dead-end jobs, a period of time marked by a distinct lack of concern for my present and even less concern for my future. With the unexpected appearance of a “+” on the test strip, I instantly realized the gravity of my situation. Everything had changed. It was time for me to step up, whether I felt ready or not, because life was no longer just about me.

The subsequent 2 years of my life were an arduous metamorphosis. I managed a healthy pregnancy (without insurance), I gave birth to an 8 lb. baby (at home), I got a real grown-up job at an insurance company, and I divorced my husband. It was scary, it was difficult, and it was absolutely worth it.

More recently, I have intentionally created situations where I had to succeed under threat of fantastic failure. In the last 4 years, my life has undergone yet another total metamorphosis. After working in the marketing department of that same insurance company for over 5 years, I realized a change had to happen. I wanted more from life and it was time to challenge myself again. On a whim, I bought a house from my (new) in-laws and moved my family to Fort Worth. After trying for 10 months to find local employment, I eventually quit my steady job in Austin and went back to school at the age of 30.

The increased responsibility of a mortgage and the decreased security of a steady corporate job have made for some ulcer-inducing months, for sure. More than once I have wondered if I am being unreasonably selfish by pursuing my education at the expense of the financial security of my family. My parents never went to college, so I am striving to set a good example for my girls by getting my degree. I can only hope my daughters see how hard I am trying and are internalizing the same work ethic.

I know this is not the last time I will challenge myself. Even at my advanced age (31!), I will have many more opportunities to get myself out of (self-inflicted) hot water. I may not always succeed, but I am certain I will be better for having tried.

I believe in my Uncle Tommy

Author: Katie Rhatigan, TCU Student, Nursing major, Published fall 2012

I believe in my Uncle Tommy. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer and currently he is in remission, still living his life to the absolute fullest.

My uncle is the wild child of his family. He had the long hair, tattoos, and earrings, is extremely tall, and has the sense of humor that would have you laughing within a minute of meeting him. He has the built of a lion and the heart of an angel. He is a carpenter and has a passion for building anything he can. This man is so much more than just my uncle and role model, he is also my godfather.

Growing up, I was not fortunate to see him often because he was engulfed with his work and lived a couple hours away. That never impacted our relationship though. I would talk to him on the phone and his positive attitude would always leave me feeling happy and optimistic. Whenever I did see him, I would receive the biggest hug of my life and I would never want to leave. His stories from his childhood were always the greatest, like when he would tell me about his car and how it was the coolest one on the block because it had a huge engine and the ladies loved his GTO. I used to listen to stories about him driving it and I could see him reliving his experiences. He is satisfied with life and lives each day to the fullest.

After he was diagnosed with cancer, it was like nothing had changed. Work was still part of his everyday life and he carried on as usual. He had the overwhelming love and moral support from his family to help him get through it all. I am not going to say that there were no hard or low points during his treatment process but I will say that he rarely showed them. Through this whole experience, he has been able to reconnect with the family more and even some friends from his past. My uncle can do whatever he sets his mind to do. When he first started Kung Fu, he did not stop until he got his black belt and when he decided he wanted to learn the guitar, he mastered it. This determination is what allowed him to beat the cancer. Ultimately, he stuck to his daily routine, kept a smile on his face, and kept doing the things that he loved.

Through my Uncle Tommy, I have learned to be unselfish and cherish each moment I have because at any time, my life can change. When I am having a bad day, I think about him and how even through it all, he still will walk around making other people happy. He inspires me to live each day like it’s my last, to do what I want to do, to do what makes me happy.
There will be challenges in life but nothing that I cannot get through. I believe that through perseverance, love, and hope, I can do anything with a smile on my face.

I believe in Tolerance and Understanding

Author: Corey Landers, TCU Student, Marketing Major, Published Fall 2012

My life was changed the day I first moved. I had been living in Louisiana for practically my entire life when my father told the family that he was being transferred overseas to Great Britain. We moved to a small village called Lea that was just two hours away from London, and I went to school surrounded by people who had funny accents and strange habits. We also went to a different church, an Anglican one I suppose, but honestly I could barely tell the difference then from the Methodist church we had attended in Louisiana.

Church was never a big part of my family’s life. We arbitrarily went from Methodism to Anglicanism simply because it was convenient (the Anglican Church was right down the street). And when we then moved to London itself, we stopped attending church for a year because we could barely find a school for my sister and I, let alone a place of worship. But none of this was a big deal because religion and spirituality never really entered my life in England.

It only became an issue when I moved to Texas. I started noticing how deeply people held their religious beliefs, and how open they were to talking about them. All through high school I was surrounded by people who would mention God or Jesus whenever they got the chance, and I always got offended by it. I just always believed that religion was a private matter, and definitely not something you just openly talked about in class. And when I got to college things just got worse. Now I was living with people of all different faiths and ideologies, and so naturally clashes occurred between the intolerant people.

I hate intolerance. Living in England taught me that people can be different from me, but still be great once you get to know them, and so when the intolerant people in my dorm would go about preaching their beliefs I just couldn’t believe it. Did they not realize how rude they were being? Did they not understand how offensive they were? After a few heated arguments, I realized that the people who are the most intolerant happen to be the most ignorant of other people’s beliefs. These people practically refuse to accept that their religion maybe isn’t the only correct belief out there, so they attack anything they don’t understand.

I believe in understanding. I believe in empathy. I believe in tolerance and freedom. But I also know that some do not. I know that some refuse to learn about “the heathens”, that some hate those that are different simply because they are different. And I know I can’t do anything to change that mindset. So instead I choose to take the higher path, to not hate them because of their hate, their ignorance. I believe in empathy, they believe in intolerance. But I hope that just as racism has slowly began to die away, so too will the last vestiges of all intolerance. I hope I am not wrong.

I believe in the value of human life

Author: LaTonya Whitley, TCU Student, Criminal Justice Major, Published Fall 2012

I believe in the value of human life because I am a survivor. I have survived many things, but the one story that I hold near and dear to my heart is being a survivor of rape. My mom would allow numerous men to sleep in the bed with us at an early age; I believe I was around five or six when I first discovered “being touched”. I remember waking up to one of these men, a family friend, touching me. He had removed my panties and performed a sexual act on me. Confused I immediately got out of bed with my panties in my hand searching for my mother. My mother happened to be in the next room on the couch with a man, who was not my father. I stood at my bedroom door with my panties in my hand and when she saw me, naked with just a t-shirt on, she yelled at me to return to my room. I obeyed, went back in my room and slept next to the family friend who just molested me. From the age of five-six to age sixteen, I spent my life being a victim of molestation, numerous attempted rapes and one rape. The predators were family friends, adult cousins; ironically none of the perpetrators were strangers. I tried telling my mom on numerous occasions, but my pleas for help, fell on deaf ears. I remember trying to get help from my father but he just made excuses why he did not rescue me. About three years ago, I discovered why. He has been accused of molesting my cousin and having sexual relations with his biological daughter, my sister. I grew up angry, I was angry with my mother, my father and God. The sexual abuse I experienced, encouraged my promiscuous life style and it prevented me from having the knowledge to choose a decent man.

I spent the great part of my life in relationships that were toxic. I would go from one bad relationship to the next; always looking for one person to love me, and I thought I could find it by having sex. I would work, go to school, party, travel; I would do anything not to face reality. I was oblivious to the outside world, and the outside world was oblivious to me. Then one day, through no fault of mine, I lost my job and my world came crashing down. After I lost my job, I became extremely angry, I did not want to be around anyone; not even my children whom I love so much.

One day I read a book, called, Initiation by Elizabeth Haich and it changed my life. I began to work on me and what I needed to improve my life. Obtaining a job was a factor, but rebuilding a new me was more important. I realized that God has been with me all my life, even through the suffering I experienced. He only let me suffer long enough to teach me the value of human life, specially my life.
Though I experienced a lot of hardship throughout my lifetime, I have many things to be grateful about. First, I allowed God in my heart, mind, body and soul. I have four children and none of them suffered the way I suffered; as a matter of fact three are in college and one currently attends high school.

Someone once told me that bad things happen to good people, those people who have been hurt by life. I have learned that external forces do not have to devalue a human life; rather it can be used as a positive reinforcement to inspire change. This is why I believe!

I believe in America’s fraternity

Author: Steven Hofmann, TCU Student, Business Major, Published Fall 2012

I am in America’s fraternity.

It’s not Greek. It was born right here on U.S. soil. It’s the biggest, the toughest, most selfless, most accomplished, and most respected fraternity you can imagine. We’ve never lost anything we’ve been involved in. In my fraternity, uncommon valor is a common virtue. My letters don’t resemble the ones you’re familiar with. My letters read “U.S.M.C.,” and they stand for the United States Marine Corps.

Being a part of this fraternity means more to me than proving I’m the coolest guy, than being the one that can drink the most, meeting a bunch of girls, or being the most connected person in my circle of friends. To me it’s about going through both an internal and external transformation. During my “rushing” process, I not only earned the esteemed title of “Marine,” but I also became a part of something much greater than myself. I became part of an elite history of discipline, loyalty, leadership, and gallantry. My “rush” week was 12 weeks long, 7 days a week, twenty-four hours a day, and even after all that I was STILL a peon! To me it means having a brother. Not a brother who gives me his notes to class, or lets me borrow his fake ID. I’m talking about a brother that gives you his last canteen of water when you’ve been on a patrol, in 117-degree heat, with no sign of your next re-supply opportunity.

I mean a brother who runs out of any cover or concealment, into the screaming of rounds whistling by his ear. With no concern for himself or his family, he comes and picks me up, both of us in 80lbs of gear, and puts me on his shoulder. One hand on me, one hand on his weapon and the rapping of death at our door, he carries me back to the cover of our vehicle. Without a doubt, he is the only reason I am here today. That’s the type of brother my fraternity produces.

In my brotherhood, community service means service to my country. Service to my country means protecting my fellow Americans. Protecting my fellow Americans means being a part of America’s Fraternity and being a part of my fraternity, means that you have the freedom to be a part of your fraternity too.

I believe in thought and the quest for truth

Author: Jenelle Salisbury, TCU Student, Neuroscience major, Published fall 2012

When I was stopped at the “This I Believe” tent at TCU, they said all I had to do to win a prize was to write down one thing that I believe on a note card. Sounds easy, right? Not for me. I wanted to write something that I truly, actually believed without a doubt. However, for me, doubt seems to be intrinsic. I considered just writing something cliché to get the prize, but decided against it. Another part of me wanted to just lay the card and the pen back down on the table and say, “I’m sorry. I just don’t believe in anything.” Why couldn’t I think of just one thing that I believed? I believe in skepticism; I believe in questioning everything in one’s external and internal realities on the quest for truth. But does the quest for truth really lead anywhere, or will I always be left not knowing? Epistemologically I have always felt that the one thing I can know for sure is the simple fact that I am conscious, so on my note card I simply wrote “thought.”

This is not to say that I don’t have beliefs in relation to my own life. I believe in love, I believe in family, I believe in honesty. I believe the things I do in this world matter and I love to help people. I have all of these beliefs in the moral and social realm. However, as a philosophical thinker, I am hesitant to say that I believe them 100%, i.e., that I know them. This is because I think that the only things that can truly be believed or known are things that are true in every possible world, not just the one we are in. Why? Because then the beliefs are fully general and thus relatable to every situation, even a situation that I cannot comprehend. Every belief I have is relative to the human brain, and who am I to say that this brain reflects reality? Some people think that skepticism is a sad and ignorant mindset to have, but to me, nothing else makes sense. Moreover, I am not a classic skeptic – I have one strong foundational, Cartesian belief that I feel is enough to live a bountiful life.

If one wanted to fully doubt, he/she could ask the question “How do you know that you are conscious?” and to me, this is a question that simply does not make sense. To illustrate, imagine a possible world in which we are not actually conscious. Instead, we just “invented” the idea of consciousness when in reality it doesn’t exist. However, in order to “invent” or “imagine,” one must in the first place have some form of consciousness. Whether all humans that have ever lived are one collective consciousness, or whether we are indeed in the matrix and this is all in our heads, consciousness in some form must exist because thoughts, although difficult to place one’s finger on, are undeniably real.
Well, okay. So we know we are conscious. What then? Even if we are bacterium in jars cultivated by an alien species we could still possibly have consciousness, so how does the knowledge of this fact benefit us at all?

I also believe one more thing, from which I feel I can derive all the knowledge I will ever need. I believe consciousness is a physical entity or collection of entities in the human brain. This is why I chose to become a neuroscience major. I believe we can know nothing of the true nature of the self or of reality until we know everything about the mechanisms with which we perceive and process it. I believe the human brain is this mechanism and thus the study of which is our portal to truth.

I suppose to most people I sound like a person with no direction, no beliefs, no happiness – nihilistic perhaps. I cannot emphasize enough that this is not what I am or the point I am trying to make. I love the processes of life, and I believe what I do matters. I just think to say that I know anything in any sort of absolute sense is illogical given that I have only experienced the world I am in, and only experienced it through the senses I developed as a human. I love these senses and I love this world, I just hesitate to relate it to any sort of absolute truth. I find comfort in the absolute truth that is consciousness. I am passionate about defining the physical bases of this phenomenon and ready to dedicate my life to it. This is my quest for truth.

I believe in faith

Author: Laurie Burton, TCU Staff member, Nursing Department

My belief system began as a child and was greatly influenced by my family. I don’t remember attending church regularly until around the age of nine. My oldest brother started going to church regularly and I noticed a change in him. He was excited about an experience he had that he called salvation. He treated me differently, more loving and friendly. His change, from him being basically self-absorbed to this new personality, created a desire in me to change too. I started going to church with him and learned about the gospel.

I began reading the Bible and it came alive to me and made sense. I was convicted about my sin when I learned how Jesus, God’s perfect son had given up his life and substituted himself to redeem mankind. It amazed me that God loved us so much he would sacrifice his own son for corrupt people. When I realized how much God loved me, and that I could never be good enough on my own, I understood that I needed Jesus as my savior. By faith, I accepted his gift and confessed and repented of my sin and was baptized.

This experience completely changed my life. My desires were to please God, know his will for my life and serve him. My belief simply stated is that Jesus is God’s son, the Christ, Messiah, Savior and Lord of all creation. Sin separated people from God. God sent his son Jesus to be born of a virgin and was crucified on a cross as an atoning sacrifice. Jesus reconciled man to God through his death and resurrection. When we believe and put our faith in him, we are born again of the spirit. He rose from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for those who put their faith in him. One day he will return.

It gives me peace to know that no matter what happens; God will never leave or forsake me. My husband and children are all believers too, and I am so thankful for God’s blessings. My parents and oldest brother have since died, but I know I will see them again. These were times of testing for me and put life into perspective. God didn’t heal them physically, but gave them ultimate healing. I miss them, but I know where they are, and that one day I will join them. My mother used to tell me that death is graduation day. We have a God that understands our struggles because he came down to earth and lived as a man. Through the trials and storms of my life, God has always proven faithful. My heavenly father protects, provides, accepts and loves me. I look forward to graduating from TCU, but most of all, I look forward to the day when my heavenly father says “well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into your father’s rest.” Will you join me?

I believe in the good in goodbye

Author: Russel Hodges, TCU Student, Journalism Major, Published Fall 2012

I view saying goodbye the same way I view doing chores. Nothing but bitterness arises when my parents tell me to take out the trash, water the garden, or even mow the lawn. However, regardless of how long I procrastinate, or how much I may dread the obligation, I always end up pulling through. Those same distasteful thoughts and feelings reappear every time I have to bid farewell to somebody. It’s strange though. Whenever I complete a task around the house, I always wind up with a weird sense of satisfaction. Interestingly enough, I experience that same satisfaction after I say goodbye to someone. But it just doesn’t add up! Aren’t farewells supposed to be sad? I used to believe so, until one night with my best friend proved to me that goodbyes are just temporary and they will never leave permanent scars.

I had known Bailey for three years, but we never really became close friends until this past summer. As my feelings for her began to grow, it became much harder for me to even contemplate saying goodbye. Nevertheless, I continued to spend as much time with her as possible until my doomsday finally arrived. Little did I know that day would become a memory that will forever be ingrained into the inner walls of my subconscious. I can still remember her lowering her head into my chest as she wrapped her arms tightly around my waist. I could also hear the sound of her sniffling over the passing cars that raced back and forth along the road behind us. Feelings of anger, sadness and frustration began to rush through my veins as I fought every urge in my mind and body to let go. As much as it killed me on the inside, I knew that in order to move along the path of my life and pursue my dreams, I simply had no choice.

Saying goodbye has never been easy for me, and like a chore I had waited until the last possible moment to gather the strength necessary to face my fear. Something wasn’t right though. Throughout my life, I had always succumbed to sadness whenever I needed to bid farewell to somebody. But this farewell was different. The bitter feelings I had been so accustomed to were nowhere to be found. I was happy! Was I losing my mind? How could I feel this contempt about leaving somebody I had shared so many memories with? Suddenly, it hit me like a freight train. With each task completed comes a new task left unattended, just like each farewell brings with it more to come in the future. I knew I would see her again, and although I’m still not sure when that time will come, I learned that there is always good to find in a goodbye.

I believe in Smiling

Author: Jimena Reyes, TCU Student, Strategic Communications Major, Published Fall 2012

I believe in smiling.

Have you ever had a stranger smile at you when your day was not going well? And without realizing it, you smiled back? It has happened to me, which is why I smile as often as I can, even to strangers.

Smiles help us communicate non-verbally; for example, we usually smile when we like something, or when we are happy, or when we are excited, or when we see a familiar face. We sometimes don’t even notice we are doing it. It’s an unconscious reflex.

Smiles are contagious – and this is why I love smiling at people, even if I’m sad or mad. I do it hoping I will get a smile back. I have experienced how powerful smiling can be from both perspectives.

When I was in middle school, my parents decided to change my school. In this new place, I had no friends and I was to shy to talk to strangers. It was easier for me to stay in my “safe bubble”.

On my third day I was eating on a bench when a girl who was two years older smiled at me for no reason. I just couldn’t understand; people from higher grades just don’t go around smiling at the young ones. Her smile made that day better than the rest. If it weren’t for her, I would have never gotten the courage to go talk to the girl on the bench next to mine, who would become my best friend.

Smiles are powerful, and I believe in them. Give others your best smile. You never know whose life you might change.