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Stop Being Afraid of Phonecalls

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There’s a trend in the 20-somethings world of us having a fear of phone calls. Seriously, stop.

I remember being a kid—when the scariest things in the world were the flush sound, ordering food, getting left in the checkout line, and calling an adult. Now we are adults. The scariest things in life should be crippling debt and foreign affairs.

It makes for a good meme, but let’s move past this. It’s almost considered bad etiquette in the modern arena to call instead of text. Often times, when something is too difficult to text out and I call a friend, they reject my call and text me asking why I’m calling. And that’s with friends. I often wonder how young people go about making appointments and work calls.

It is a bit intense to call people you don’t know, and sometimes it may feel like it takes a lot of energy to talk instead of type. However, odds are, if someone is calling you, it’s because they prefer to not write you a novel-length text or email. When you enter the work world, become a parent, or have to pay bills, you’ll eventually need to get comfortable making phone calls. Sometimes I call people for work or volunteer jobs, and the receiver gets mad at me for calling or hangs up on me because they think I’m a telemarketer. It can be a bit intimidating to do these kind of calls, but if you can’t even talk on the phone with acquaintances, store managers, or doctor’s offices, these kinds of work tasks will leave you in a sweat.

The rise of instant messaging technologies is the most prominent reason for this trending fear of telephone, but we must adapt as a generation. I’ve already seen this manifest in people my age who are nervous to talk to older adults, parents, and waiters because they don’t often speak to people they don’t know. This is problematic for obvious reasons, one of the most relevant being if you can’t get certain information, advice, or opinions online, human to human over phone or conversation is an amazing resource. In fact, you will not excel in your career if you don’t take ownership of this basic skill.

To get over your fear, try making some calls you maybe don’t need to make. If you can schedule an appointment for the dentist online but have the option to call, try it to get used to the feeling. The next time you wonder something about a business or opportunity, instead of texting a friend who will call for you, call yourself. Order some delivery food over the phone and ask questions about the food.  Once you try it a few times, you’ll realize how capable you are.

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Don’t Ask Who Will Be There

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It might strike you as odd that this is an etiquette issue. But it is.

When you’re invited to an event, get-together, or party, do not ask “who is going to be there?”

You might think this is a valid question to ask if you want to know how to dress accordingly or be prepared with gifts or professional materials. If those are your reasons for asking, just ask a more direct question like “Will Chris be there? I have something for him.” or “What’s the dress code?” If you’re unsure of what to bring according to the guest list, ask a close friend “Should I bring wine or beer?” If it’s a question of whether to bring business cards or not, just bring them. In fact, always bring them anyways. Honestly, there’s no good reason to ask who will be there. Regardless of intention, this is what you really signal when you’re asking that question:

  1. I’ll only come if your “thing” is cool enough for me

If your friend invites you to something and you say this in text, person, or phone, you come off as really pretentious. They’re extending an invitation to you and instead of just telling them you have plans or reasons to not attend, you tell them you’ll only come if the conditions are right for you socially. Odds are by the time you’ve finished with this question, they don’t want you to come anymore or you’ve hurt their feelings—especially if it took courage on their end to invite you. If you know this person’s crowd isn’t your crowd for any reason, just tell them you can’t attend for whatever reason. Don’t lie—actually make plans or just be honest and tell them you’re staying in that night. A safe answer is “I have some tentative plans already, but I’ll let you know if I end up being able to swing by.” If it’s an RSVP event, tell them you have tentative plans, so you wouldn’t be able to RSVP in good conscience. If you lie and tell them you’re staying in that night then go out and post all over social media, that sends a bad signal. If you tell them you’re too busy then post about being bored (don’t do that anyways, being bored is embarrassing) that’s a bad signal too. If you intended on staying in and ended up going somewhere and they find out, that’s fine—something came up. Just don’t lie.

  1. I’ll only come if it’s my crowd

You sound like you’re scoping if this person’s judgment of people is poor. Maybe it is. I have a good bit of people in my life whom I love dearly that have poor friend choice in my opinion. Like I said before, find a legitimate reason to decline the offer. Depending on how blunt your personality is and how close you are to the friend, maybe straight up tell them it’s not your crowd in a tasteful way. Try “Sorry, clubbing/running/dancing isn’t really my thing, but let’s get drinks/lunch this week,” “I can’t really be around marijuana because of my job, but I appreciate the invite”, or “Honestly, I don’t really feel up to being around drunk people/a public scene/a party scene” If it’s not a close friend or not you’re not the blunt type, chalk it up to the fact that you’ve had a busy week and need to relax. Like I said before, be honest. Make other plans or stay in for the night/day. If you ask the question, you sound like you’re too good for the scenario instead of scoping out whether it’s a good choice for you personally. One is respectable, the other is not.

  1. You don’t mean that much to me

At the end of the day, you make people feel like you’re not worth your time if it means one ounce of uncomfortableness for them. I know I said to offer a reason it’s not your thing, but eventually you should honestly get over that. Bar hop or go to a club even if it’s not your normal thing. Try something new for the sake of your friend. Go to the party or event they worked hard to put together even if it means you won’t know people there or someone you don’t like will be there. I know the feeling of wanting to ask if someone you don’t like will be there. You don’t want it to ruin your night. However, you can’t run from said unlikable mutual “friend” forever and keep ousting your good friend. Show up and do your best socially. Even if you don’t stay the whole time, make an effort. Stay longer than 30 minutes to not seem like you used the event to scope out “worthiness.” Be more genuine in general.

 

Pro Tip: Do not ask about “tail” or dateable people that will be at the event—especially if the friend is of opposite sex than you. Let them introduce you to someone and then ask about that person. Nothing says “I’m using you and your friends” like treating your friend’s party as a real-life Tinder opportunity.

 

Ultimately, when you ask “who will be there,” the answer “me—the person who invited you” should be enough.

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The Art of the Thank-You

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the-importance-of-a-thank-you-letter-t1mply-clipartSomewhere along the way of time and progress in the world, we have nearly lost the art of personal, hand-written thank-you notes. Airing on the side of not sounding like your grandma, I’m open to the idea that a new innovation will come around and offer a more personal touch than the homemade “thank you.” However, to date, I believe nothing has surpassed the excitement and flattery of picturing someone close or distant sitting at a desk, pondering what words he or she would like to produce for you with their own hands on a blank note card. The words are put in an order for you alone and shipped to the home where you live. It makes you remember the sender longer and more fondly than you might otherwise. And while we all fancy receiving a letter ourselves, it’s much harder to put out the effort to write one to someone else.

Here’s why it’s important to get in the habit:

  1. You Will Convey Your Genuine Thankfulness

Often, when we are thankful for someone’s time, gift, or help, it’s difficult to convey it in a meaningful way. It’s never wrong to thank someone face-to-face or on a call. However, the hand-delivered or mailed card is perfect if you struggle to sound genuine or want to add another personal touch to your in-person “thanks.” They will understand the steps you took out of your way to convey your sincerity.

  1. People Will Remember You

People have careers, hobbies, families and lives of their own. There is a lot on their minds. Sometimes they might forget you, especially if you only shared a brief experience. They are less likely to forget you if you touched them with a personal note. If they’re close to you and aren’t likely to forget you, you’ll still become closer and more on the forefront of their mind because of it.

  1. You Will Get Better With Words

For some, words don’t come naturally. Thank-yous are a great way to get comfortable expressing yourself with less pressure. It’s usually pretty short in length, so it’s do-able to write a few lines—even for the less expressive types. Over time, it will come to you more naturally. Who knows? This may even bleed through into improved expression through speech.

  1. You Will Grow Your Social Capital in a Meaningful Way

When someone has helped you out with advice or an introduction and you have thanked them, they will remember you. This matters because when you have a question about their field or need to reach someone for a referral or expertise, you’re more likely to be able to call on them again. Be sure to not manipulate or abuse your good standing with someone by seeing humans as opportunities. They’re individuals with something to them other than what they have to offer you. Sometimes, that will be your only interaction, and that’s okay. But, if you’re building your network and need to keep contact for future help, it helps if they remember you and remember you fondly.

Here are some ways to get in the habit:

  1. Keep Yourself Stocked

Buy thank you cards in bulk at stores like Home Goods, Tuesday Morning, Michaels, or other craft stores. Boutiques and higher end stores tend to have packs of ten or less for a high price. This isn’t good for keeping a stock. It may be worth it, especially after big events in your life, to order personalized batches of 100+. This saves trips to stores but can be an expensive initial cost. Keep a variety to not bore yourself or risk giving the same design to one person over and over. I, as a female, like to buy simple masculine cards, fun girly cards, and unisex professional cards so I always have something to choose from depending on the situation. (Plus, guys tend to not want a flowery card)

  1. Keep a Log

It’s easy to mean to send someone a card and forget. It’s especially easy to forget if you have a lot of people to thank after a move or accomplishment. Fix this by keeping a running list of who you owe a thank you wherever you write or type your task lists.

 

  1. Set Aside Time

It’s also easy to put off because there’s no real deadline—so give yourself one. Sit down between tasks and knock a chunk of them out while you’re on a roll. If you don’t do them the week of or even the month of, they will add up and it will become a bigger task than it needs to be. If you let too much time pass before you send a note to a brief acquaintance, they might not remember you.

Challenge: Write thank-yous to co-workers and acquaintances you don’t particularly agree with often. Focus on things you do like about them and be genuine with your words. It will help you treat them better and view them better in real life.

What Millennials Have Wrong about Dating

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As a millennial myself, I receive TONS of dating advice from my peers and the media every day.  Whether I’m at a get-together, a club meeting, volunteering, or just channel surfing, my peers and entertainers seem to have solutions for love. These solutions often mirror behavior I recognize from…sitcoms. Yeah, sitcoms. That is pretty much the level of expertise we are collectively at so far. I would really love to de-bunk some of the most common things I hear and observe us doing…when we are completely off.

  1. “Wandering Eyes” IS a Big Deal

Recently, I’ve been hearing claims that normalize aspects of infidelity. I have heard among my peers that it is fine to admire others bodies while you are in a relationship. It’s been said that it’s normal to “check out” others because it is harmless. This isn’t true at all. As it has been said, “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character.” What may start as a glance at someone’s body that has no emotional meaning can eventually manifest into words and actions. Anyone can claim that this won’t be the case for them. However, I’m willing to bet most people don’t begin cheating on their partner because they decided to one day. Besides having enough respect for others to not view them as sexual objects, you should respect yourself, your “other,” and your relationship enough to keep your eyes off every behind you see.

  1. Porn IS a Big Deal

I have been hearing peers and media suggest that porn is something “everyone just does.” Much like “wandering eyes,” viewing porn is admiring another’s body. Some may say it isn’t as significant because the person being viewed is not actually there and is someone never to be met in “real life.” The danger here is very similar to any other type of cheating. Besides the objectification you tolerate by viewing porn, you also objectify your relationship. Relationships do not exist for you to supplement, replace, and return based on unrealistic expectations and sexual fulfillment. The moment you open the door to porn, you open your heart and mind to a vast world of insecurity and faithlessness. You don’t just hurt your other—you hurt yourself.

  1. Dating Doesn’t Mean Your Own Life Ends

Having no identity outside of your relationship is a sign of immaturity. We typically see this or experienced it in middle school or high school. In the adult world, it is sad to still see. If you find yourself continuously avoiding friends and breaking promises in order to spend more and more time with your other, you might not have your own life. If you know where your other is at all times, you might not have your own life. If you freak out at the thought of not receiving a text/call or sending a text/call to your other every hour, you might not have your own life. For yourself and the sake of your relationship, have your own marvelous, interesting, independent life! Join groups and have friends that don’t all include each other! Don’t measure your success by the success of your boyfriend or girlfriend! Have your own agenda and identity.

  1. You Won’t Find Love In Numbers

Much to my surprise, “number scales” for rating guys and girls are not myths from middle school and sitcoms, but are actually practiced in real life among real adults. Here’s news: you will never start any significant relationship with a point system. Being “rated” is insulting because: One, it turns another person into an object that literally does or doesn’t “measure up.” Two, it is condescending; making you the “god” of someone else’s worth. It’ll also never allow you to truly come to know someone you could love. Every person has inherent worth whether you recognize it or not, and you are bypassing that by giving someone a “low score.” If your motive is to score based on what’s best for your desires or values, I doubt a scale at first meeting will get you anywhere. As my roommate once said, “If they meet all your scales, I doubt you’ll meet theirs.” Meaning, if he/she blows you out of the water with all criteria, he or she is probably above being “won” after a scoring. What will really make a great start is having an organic conversation that will either lead you together or apart.

  1. Time With Your Own Friends Is Important

We have all seen or experienced this one before. Just as it’s important to have your own identity, it’s important to get in some social time that doesn’t include a boyfriend or girlfriend. When you start dating, your friends and his or her friends don’t become “our” friends automatically. You’ll have some overlap and you’ll have some different friends. Having your own life means having fun doing different things and having different conversations that have nothing to do with you being in a relationship. Sure, when you like or love someone and they are in your life…you’ll want to talk about them and be with them. Try to remember that you are two separate people and not a unit—especially while you’re still unmarried. Enjoy life and cope with stress with your friends!

  1. Your Faith IS a Major Factor

No matter what faith you have or if you have no religious beliefs at all, know that it matters when it comes to dating. You might not notice it at first while you’re still in the warm and fuzzy place, but in the long-run, it will matter. Once you establish what you want in life and what core values you want to implement in your life, it will come up. Some people do continue a relationship and even a marriage with a different faith or one of faith and one without. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. But for the one with faith, it will never be fully practiced in your relationship. For both individuals with differing faiths or no faith, it will eventually become a huge sore spot of tension for your relationship.

  1. Boundaries Make All Relationships Go ‘Round

If there’s one thing I stress when giving relationship advice to friends, it’s boundaries! I often hear that the best way to do things is just “see what happens” and “let it flow” until “what happens, happens.” Of course, spontaneity can be a great thing, but not in all areas of life. Some areas of our relationships will burn us if we haven’t set boundaries.  Healthy boundaries are great for yourself, for friends, and for dating relationships! There should always be clear discussions about what both of you are comfortable with physically and emotionally. Physically, you need to be on the same page about what your limits are. You should never be embarrassed or persuaded to lower or loosen any of the limits you have for your own body.

Emotionally, your boundaries should be both practical and loving. Some boundaries have already been mentioned in having one’s own identity and having separate lives and friends. Others might include a limit on sharing money , space, family time, etc. Don’t be afraid to discuss these boundaries as they come and address them at different stages in your relationship.

  1. Your Confidence Will Not Come From A Significant Other

Despite what movies, songs, and t.v have taught us, you will not be “complete” when you meet “the one.” “The one,” in fact, is a false notion of its own. (That’s for another blog another time) You have to love and respect yourself before you can really receive the love and respect of another. If you are waiting to meet that special person who will finally make you live your life the way you’ve always truly wanted to live, you’re going to be waiting quite. some. time. You will find yourself either bouncing from relationship to relationship looking for this or you will end up in a long, dysfunctional, and unhealthy relationship that ends up becoming a security blanket. Folks, this isn’t How I Met Your Mother and it’s certainly not Twilight. When you love you, someone else will be able to love you, too.

  1. Enjoy The Stage You’re In

This one can be tough for long relationships. We can get wrapped up in “ I can’t wait until..”this” or “that” in the future. Maybe it’s when you can afford to go on a great vacation, maybe it’s when you can have a married life, or maybe it’s when you can take your relationship to the next level. Whatever it is, it can be easy to enjoy looking ahead so much that you miss the present. We do this in every area of our lives, and it’s almost always destructive. This can lead you to sending a message you didn’t intend to send. By saying something like, “I can’t wait until we live together” or “I can’t wait until we can afford to go on a cruise,” you might be sending the message to your partner that you don’t fully enjoy what you have now. Of all the things I’ve listed, this is probably the hardest for me. I love staying focused on the future and all I will be able to accomplish once I can do this, live here, be at this level and then I’ll have it. My boyfriend has taught me the love lesson on enjoying our dating lives right where they are. This is important because one day, they will just be memories…and we want memories of ourselves enjoying our present.

  1. The “Love and Respect” Concept IS true

Everyone is always looking for “what women want” and “what men really want” in life, sex, or a relationship. Perhaps you’ve heard of the book and love series “Love and Respect.” While I can say I haven’t read the study designed for married couples, I have learned the concept it teaches. Women, at the root of relationship, desire love. We feel the most fulfilling relationships when we feel the love with words and actions. Men, at the root of relationship, desire respect. Respect makes men feel loved and appreciated. In fact, whether you are interacting with the opposite sex in friendship or relationship, it is safe to evaluate what you are saying or doing with, “will this show her love?” or “will this show him respect?” A break in either of these will lead to relationship issues. So while we may also want other things, fundamentally we want love and respect in our lives.

  1. Your Young Years Are NOT For Non-committal “Shopping”

I get this all the time. “Don’t be serious with someone while you’re young” “Your brain isn’t done developing until you’re 25” “You’re supposed to date around a lot while you’re young” “You’re supposed to be free while you’re young.” All these presuppose that while you are in a relationship, you stop living the life you want to live. If you are careful to set boundaries and have your own life, it won’t put a damper on your young life to have a serious relationship. It won’t hinder your life, and can even enhance it as long as it’s healthy. This idea that “it’s all over” once you commit is opposite of the idea that you need a relationship to be happy but is just as unhealthy and just as common. Movies and t.v often poke fun at the ideas that fun and party life all end the moment you get serious with someone. That, of course, only holds if you have no idea what a healthy relationship looks like. When we view dating this way, we view marriage in an even worse light. We either paint a perfect wedding-that-will-fulfill-our-lives picture or a doomsday capstone-of-our-lives one. When we view commitment this way, we can never fully enjoy it.

  1. The Moment You Realize You Could Not End Up With That Person, It Should End

I hear friends say all the time that they are just dating someone “for now” because they can’t tolerate x,y, and z forever. I have news: when you realize that long-term commitment with that person is not going to happen, you need to end it as quickly and kindly as possible. Everyone you end up dating will not be ideal for your life. You won’t be able to agree on boundaries or be able to meet each other’s’ love languages sometimes. A failure of a relationship is not a failure of you as a person. It’s a hard choice to make, but it’s one that has to happen. Of course, with your own identity and friends, ending a relationship will be possible.

Objectify Sex, Objectify Women

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We live in a world where it is honestly believed that we can objectify sex without objectifying women.

We’ve given sex the identity of causality, prevalence, and commonality. We undercut and undervalue one of the most important things in human relationship. It can have a negative and draining impact, a life-giving and loving impact, or a traumatic impact. The only thing that is certain is that there will always be an impact.   So why do we pretend it doesn’t?

As tacky as I’ve always thought it to be, I’m going to define sexual objectification according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s feminism:

“Objectification is a notion central to feminist theory. It can be roughly defined as the seeing and/or treating a person, usually a woman, as an object.”

The definition goes on to list the ways in which women are objectified:

instrumentally, denial of autonomy, inertness, fungibility, violability, ownership, denial of subjectivity, reduction to body, reduction to appearance, and silencing.

To parallel with their basic definition, the objectification of women arises when women are viewed as a tool of functionality rather than a human, denied self-determination, denied agency in a situation, given treatment as a disposable, denied boundaries, given treatment as a medium of exchange, viewed without a personal narrative, reduced to the identity of their body parts, reduced to the identity of their appearance, and silenced as an inanimate.

We see this all around us in media, retail, and entertainment. So what has our response been? We would like to say we have countered it with something opposite and potent…but we haven’t.

Some would say we have effectively countered it with feminism. That would be wrong.

Feminism tells us we should have sex with no consequence, no commitment, and no obligation to emotion. You can’t blame anyone for inventing this solution. We have been made desperate by the image society has painted us. We reject the image and instead turn to its twin sister.

Making sex a casual, non-committal, merely biological “adult play” is just as bad as allowing screen-writers to form our sexuality from afar. Picture this:

A woman meets a man at a bar, they have small conversation, she leaves with him, sleeps with him, then leaves the next morning with no obligation. This is what feminism celebrates.

Here is what is really going on:

A woman meets a man at a bar, she is denied a personal narrative, reduced to the identity of her body parts and appearance and taken home by a man who does not know her boundaries. She then leaves the next morning (disposed) and is replaced the next night by another woman (like a medium of exchange.) Her face and name then become something silent in the background of her body. The only thing she has kept ownership of is her self-determination and agency in the situation. But really, her agency in the event was only giving up her self-determination.

She gave some of the most sacred pieces of her identity to someone who could not even see her.

And this happens over and over again until that lack of self-determination carries her further than she can handle alone. She is objectified.

I’m offering a counter solution. If we commit sex to a sacred place in our minds, we will treat sex as sacred.

It is so important that in order for a man to gain access to it, he MUST hear a woman’s narrative, voice, and identity. He has no choice but to accept her boundaries and realize how irreplaceable she is. He will be unable to blur her among faces because he will only see and know hers so well.

SHE always obtains self-determination and HE always obtains self-determination because time and virtue allowed it. It is the most sacred thing a couple can commit to together. If it’s not together, then it’s not equality. If it’s not personal, it’s objectified. If we label it as non-committal, it doesn’t make it so. Our emotions and bodies commit to it whether we give them permission to or not.

So, in the name of equality, autonomy, and humanity, let’s give sex a better place in our books.

Republicanism: A Broken Jack

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When your car tire pops or goes flat and you need to do a roadside tire change, you’re going to need a jack. You need something to elevate your vehicle so you can repair it and move forward with your precious cargo—your family, friends, and yourself—to your desired destinations.

The vehicle that drives us in life is our value system. It is the precious thing that drives us forward and carries us to our desired destinations of progress. As you have heard, this journey to a society more in-line with one’s values is really one’s destination. For many decades, American people with a conservative value system have noticed a hole in the tire that keeps them going. We’ve pulled the car over, diagnosed the problem, and started working towards progress. Our most natural response was using the jack in our trunk—the Republican Party. The jack’s job is the act as a platform for the car to be elevated upon to easily access the issue and carry out a repair. We call the Republican Party a platform on which our values are elevated, where great ideas and people can gather and gain direct access to solutions.

But what if the jack is broken?

What if the jack is not put in the right position? Car savvy people know—place the jack in the wrong spot, the jack won’t elevate correctly and you are putting yourself at great danger by being under it.
Some say the Republican Party is a broken jack, not elevating conservative values at all, and some say it is off position, not properly elevating with methods that may be life-threatening to the cargo of conservatism.

With big spending, incumbent back-rubs, and big government compromise, true conservatives are starting to look for a new platform to elevate their values.

When a car owner is stranded and only finds a broken jack, he or she searches for something more suitable for the job. This may mean finding what is nearby on the side of the road for immediate repair and a get-back-on-the-road mentality. For others, this means calling a friend—reaching out to like-minded individuals—and getting to the store for a new and improved jack .*provided by the free market of ideas* Some have found a better jack in the Tea Party, some the Libertarian Party, and some have just gathered under the name of constitutionalists, conservatives, etc.

Conservatives across the nation are sending a message with these primaries: compromise that levels all values as equal, is no elevation at all. That’s our only purpose for a jack, and if it can’t perform its job, we really have no reason to keep it. It would be silly to get sentimental over a car jack, thinking of how our beloved jack worked in ’85 under Reagan, and refused to give it up.

Why not just fix the jack we already have instead of getting a new one? Because if we wanted to transform a tool that didn’t work into one that did work for us, we would register Democrat.

Conservatives are resourceful people who believe in enterprise, think-tanks, and investment. We are going to build a jack and it’s going to be the best damn jack you’ve ever invested in…as long as we can get enough people to let go of their old one.

At the end of the day, we are sentimental people, but we must understand that political parties function as tools for us to use—not the other way around. Tools are great, but you’ll never catch me serving my tool before my valued object of repair. I do not serve a political party, and it if it can’t serve me, I’m going to create a demand for a new one. When I am supplied with a solution, please don’t get angry in sentiment. Don’t value unity over utility.

Or do. Either way, I’m getting my tail back on the road.