Disturbing the Universe

The musings of author Christina Knowles


August 2014

The Truth About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Christina Knowles

Snagged from The Progressive Cynic
Snagged from The Progressive Cynic

Like many people, I have been very troubled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially in the wake of the recent media bombardment of the horrific stories of Palestinian suffering and accusations of human rights violations. Initially, I found myself sympathizing with the Palestinians. I heard the stories reported on every major news network of innocent civilians brutally murdered, hospitals and schools targeted for air strikes by Israel, and I read the numerous Facebook posts of the occupation of Palestine and the attempted genocide of these people. But this struck me as very odd. Maybe it was the word genocide that first made me look deeper into this conflict. After all, it was the Jewish people who were the subject of attempted genocide by the Nazis in the 20th century. Would a people who had been so recently subjected to the atrocities of Nazi Germany really be willing to commit the same offenses and equate themselves with the same type of behavior?

Next, I found it strange that a country, which had never before been known for this type of shocking and oppressive behavior, would suddenly react this way, even following the horrific kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens by the radical Islamic Resistance group, Hamas. I decided to research what was really going on for myself.

I found out very quickly that it was difficult to get unbiased information. Almost all the major networks were reporting, in my opinion, a negative view of Israel and portraying Hamas as a legitimate political group. I read stories that advocated for the necessity of Hamas as political leaders for Palestine, and alarming reports of the victimization of innocent Palestinians by Israel. I decided to learn a little about the origin of the land dispute between the two countries.

I did some fact-checking and researched some basic history of the land in dispute and the history of ownership, which in my opinion, is not all that relevant. I think both people groups should be able to share the land in peace, but it is significant in uncovering true intentions and whether peace and freedom are the actual goals of either party. I am including a link to this article on the saga behind the land conflict because it explains in simple terms a fairly accurate history of the Israeli people and how they have responded. I don’t pretend to portray this article as unbiased, but I have confirmed the major facts as historical. The Historical truths behind the Israel – Palestine conflict.

But from this and other sources, I have pieced together an idea of why they both feel entitled to the land. In a nut shell, the Jewish people occupied the area during ancient biblical times and were displaced through a number of circumstances, but the current “conflict has been going on since the early 1900s, when the mostly-Arab, mostly-Muslim region was part of the Ottoman Empire and, starting in 1917, a ‘mandate’ run by the British Empire” (Fisher). Then a movement called Zionism began as an effort among mostly European Jews to establish a homeland of their own in the land of their ancestors following an escape of anti-Semitism originating in Nazi Germany. Britain promised them a very large chunk of land that includes what is Israel, including Palestine, today. It also included Jordan. They were not long in residence when violence between the Jews and Arabs in British Palestine began. Britain decided, after promising the land to Israel, to instead sell some of it to Arabs. “In 1947, the United Nations approved a plan to divide British Palestine into two mostly independent countries, one for Jews called Israel and one for Arabs called Palestine”(Fisher). This is called the Two-State Solution. “Jerusalem, holy city for Jews and Muslims, was to be a special international zone” (Fisher). This part of the plan never came to fruition. Arabs claimed that Britain had no right to give the land to Israel and invaded in 1948. Israel ended up giving up a great deal of the area, even though they were able to protect themselves from the usurpers, and gave back Jordan and much more to obtain peace. They kept a fraction of the land they were given even though they were the victors in most of the conflicts. They gave up control of the Gaza Strip as well. After being attacked again, Israel took back control of the West Bank in order to protect its borders from the almost constant attacks.

They have been in conflict ever since. In the past several years, Israel has been criticized for occupying Palestine, blocking Palestinian access to imports and exports as well as to certain farmland. Honestly, in light of the near constant attacks and the willingness of Israel to give up the majority of land they were promised and still attempt to live in peace, I began to sympathize with Israel. However, that would still not excuse the massacre of the innocent or human rights violations, so I decided to look into the group in control of Palestine, Hamas.

I found out that Hamas is not a legitimate political group at all. They are indeed terrorists and religious fanatics without a doubt. I even read their charter, which was so disturbing, it sent chills down my spine. According to Vox, Digital News, “Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since its 1987 founding, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks. It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It also governs Gaza independently of the Palestinian Authority, but it may have just found a way to reconcile its differences with the other major Palestinian faction“ (Vox). Additionally, “in 2006, Hamas won a slight majority of the seats in the Palestinian Authority legislative elections. But Hamas refused to accept previous deals that the PA had made with Israel, leading it to de facto secede from the PA and to govern Gaza independently from the West Bank-based PLO” (Vox). To corroborate that Hamas really just wants to destroy Israel under any circumstances, and is truly not interested in peace, I located the Hamas Charter and found that all this is likely true.

From the Hamas charter: “But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah.” (The Cow – verse 120).

“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with” (Hamas Charter). This couldn’t be more clear. They do not intend to come to a peaceful agreement with Israel, they do not mind sacrificing innocent lives to destroy them, and they will never stop attacking them.

I also found a BBC News article describing Hamas: “Hamas is the largest of several Palestinian militant Islamist groups. Its name is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, originating as it did in 1987 after the beginning of the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“It originally had a dual purpose of carrying out an armed struggle against Israel – led by its military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades – and delivering social welfare programmes.

“But since 2005, it has also engaged in the Palestinian political process, becoming the first Islamist group in the Arab world to gain power democratically (before forcibly taking control of its stronghold of Gaza).

“Hamas is designated a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, EU, Canada and Japan due to its long record of attacks and its refusal to renounce violence under the group’s charter, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel” (BBC).

With that said, I believe, through my research, that Hamas is putting their own countrymen at risk, intentionally, to raise sympathy for their cause and to turn the tide of public sentiment against Israel, and it is working remarkably well. Hamas has vocalized many times that sacrificing even millions of Muslims to exterminate the Jews is an acceptable sacrifice. Through the interviews of people from both sides on National Public Radio (NPR) and examining history, I believe that Israel would live in peace with Palestinians if they were just left alone. In my opinion, Israel has no choice but to prevent Hamas from accessing tunnels into Israel and to stop them from firing rockets into their populated cities and farms. Because Hamas chooses to locate weaponry, soldiers, and fire rockets from schools and hospital windows, strategically endangering their own people, what choice does Israel have but to fire on these locations? I realize that many Palestinians do not support Hamas and wish to live in peace, and those that do, often believe they must, but I don’t believe that Hamas does anything but harm to them. The average people are truly victims. However, I feel like Israel is being demonized because they are better at defending themselves than others are at attacking them. The fact that there are so many Palestinian casualties compared to Israel is not as much a moral issue as an issue of superior military capability.

But let’s look at what set off the most recent violence. Three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas. There has been some dispute over whether an independent Palestinian group or Hamas was responsible, but Hamas claimed credit for the murders. “Hamas has repeatedly praised the kidnappings, but Arouri, the group’s exiled West Bank leader, is the first member to claim responsibility. Israel has accused Hamas of orchestrating the kidnappings and identified two operatives as the chief suspects. The two men remain on the loose” (NPR). I heard rumors that Hamas was actually not responsible, and I found an article entitled “Israel Admits Hamas Didn’t Kidnap 3 Israeli Teens After All;” however, no where in the article did it quote any Israeli official admitting this. Instead it reports, “Frenkel reported that kidnapping three Israeli teens would be a foolish move for Hamas. International experts told her it was likely the work of a local group, acting without concern for the repercussions” (DNA). This is hardly evidence. This article was actually written prior to Hamas claiming credit, but that didn’t stop its spread across social media. Either way, with Hamas’ agenda, it makes little difference since they praised the attack anyway.

Here is an excerpt of an interview on July 30th on NPR with Ari Shapiro and Emily Harris, NPR news correspondents, regarding an Israeli bombing of a school in Palestine. Emily Harris reports that civilians were killed during a ceasefire in Gaza, but according to this story, Israelis warned Palestinian civilians not to be in this particular area at least ten days prior to the attack, told them it was still not safe to return, even though a ceasefire was in effect. Harris states, “Hamas continued to shoot rockets into Israel – at that time about two dozen according to the U.S. military. And the cease-fire came with caveats. The military said it would not apply in places where Israeli troops were already operating, and it also said that Gazans should not go back into areas that the Israeli military had earlier told them to leave. So it was a little unclear exactly what the cease-fire meant. The information about it was distributed from the military mostly through Palestinian media. There weren’t any leaflets dropped. On occasion during this war Israel’s has dropped leaflets showing specifically where to go – what areas are considered safe” (Harris).

Later, when rockets were launched from the direction of a UN school, fire was returned and several people were killed in their classrooms (NPR). NPR is the only actual news site I have found that gives unbiased factual reports about both sides of this war. I have listened to social scientists and college professors from both Palestine and Israel and both corroborate much of this same information. You can listen to or read past news stories to determine for yourself the truth of what is going on over there. One article specifically talks about Hamas winning the social media war through their Twitter campaign, yet all I see on social media is the complaint that Israel is hiring students to use Facebook for propaganda purposes. I don’t know if this is true or not, but is it any different from the propaganda films playing at the beginning of every matinee in America during World War II? It did not make fighting to stop the genocidal Nazis any less worthy of a cause.

But despite the fact that Hamas clearly believes in endangering and sacrificing innocent lives in a quest to destroy Israel, I needed further evidence that they were purposefully using the gruesome deaths of Palestinians as a tool to garner support for their cause and to create a negative image of Israel. I found several articles on a terrorist manual on urban warfare that is reportedly used by Hamas. “On August 5, the Israeli Army released copies of an official Hamas manual that it discovered in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza, where one of the fiercest battles of the war was fought.

“It’s titled ‘Urban Warfare,’ and it was produced by Hamas’s Shuja’iya Brigade. The manual includes detailed instructions on how to use the civilians of Gaza against Israel. It explains how because of Israel’s concern about civilian casualties, Hamas can use the ‘presence of civilians’ to its military advantage. Having civilians nearby causes the Israelis ‘(1) Problems with opening fire; (2) Problems in controlling the civilian population during operations and afterward; (3) Assurance of supplying medical care to civilians who need it.

“The ‘Urban Warfare’ manual also emphasizes the benefits of damage to civilian property: ‘The destruction of civilian homes: This increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers [the IDF] and increases their gathering [support] around the city defenders (resistance forces [i.e. Hamas])’” (the Algemeiner). This information was also confirmed by the IDF directly, which I realize is obviously not unbiased. However, the existence of this manual is not in dispute.

I realize that some people think that the greater power (Israel) should show restraint, but I believe Israel has shown restraint when history is taken into account. I also like to put myself in others’ shoes to see if I agree with their actions. For example, imagine for a moment that Denver was Israel and Gaza was Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs had grievances with Denver and Colorado Springs had access to Denver through tunnels, then began setting up military forts in hospitals and schools, and fired rockets at Denver from these buildings; Denver would not want to fire on schools, civilians, and hospitals, but they would have little choice if the opposition’s own military had no regard for their civilians.

I believe that Israel has been magnanimous in their show of restraint throughout history, even in willingly relinquishing land promised to them by the British government, and then sold to Arabs instead, willingly giving up more and more land all the time, and only taking back the West Bank to protect their borders. Arguing who lived there longest or who is indigenous is rather petty, in my opinion, when one side, who actually has a legitimate, staked claim, is willing to share and live in peace, but the other side will not. I’m sure there are people who can contradict some of these facts, and others who can contradict the contradictions. I am not a history expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do not believe that Israel has ever previously acted to promote genocide, and I do not believe that is what is happening now. However, they do have the unfortunate experience of being targeted for extermination again, and I’m sure this plays into their willingness to protect themselves at all costs.

Furthermore, Israel is a progressive country, supporting human rights in general, and specifically gay rights and women’s rights. In contrast, Palestine and Hamas do not support human rights and personal freedoms, least of all, religious freedom. Would you rather be a Christian in Gaza or a Christian in Israel? Which would be safer? How about a gay man? A woman? When looking at it from this point of view, it is obvious that Israel is who we should support, and Hamas must be stopped. I am shocked that so many people in the free and civilized world would support a terrorist group like Hamas and judge Israel by standards that they themselves would never meet. Moreover, I am frightened and mortified by the blatant anti-Semitism I am seeing articulated on social media. It is almost like entering a bizarre, alternate universe where Nazis had Facebook. Some people who are against Israel on these issues are promoting the death of Jews as a race, making blanket statements about what kind of people the Jews have always been, and suggesting that they do not have a right to survive. Of any political dispute I have seen in my lifetime, this one disturbs me on a level of which I have never previously experienced.

Let me be clear. I do sympathize with innocent Palestinian civilians, and I do believe they are victims, just not of Israel. The irony of this situation is that the Jewish people are being accused of Nazi-like behavior when once again, they are being targeted with anti-Semitic sentiment and extermination. Do the research yourself, do not be told what to believe by social media or the biased news stations. FOX is biased to the right, and NBC to the left. CNN maintains an illusion of balance, but refuses to report on almost anything controversial. Dig a little deeper, especially when you are suspicious. I did because I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. Hamas needs to be stopped. I stand with Israel, but make up your own mind.—Christina Knowles



Is There Hope for the Human Race? by Christina Knowles

Snagged from
Snagged from

It has been a depressing week. Refugee children from South America continue to suffer, the Israeli-Hamas conflict is far from over, even though they are experiencing a temporary ceasefire, the Ebola virus is spreading across many African countries, tensions are rising as the radical Sunni threaten the Kurdish region, Robin Williams tragically committed suicide, Lauren Bacall died as well, and protests and riots erupted in Ferguson, Missouri after the unarmed Michael Brown was shot by the police, and then the militarized police force moved on protestors with armored vehicles, assault rifles, and tear gas. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. Like I said, a very depressing week.

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One might wonder if there is even any hope left for the human race. This week I asked myself that question. It would seem, if one were listening to the news, that everything is spiraling out of control, and we are on a fast trip downward toward annihilation. But is everything really getting worse? Or is this just the perception we have from an ever-increasing saturation of instant news coverage via cable news, Twitter, and Facebook? Although I am thankful for social media for its ability to provide a platform for the average person to report what they see, rather than relying on our somewhat (understatement) biased news sources, are we letting our access to hastily reported news prejudice us against our own futures? Perhaps.

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Snagged from

Let’s look at history to get some perspective. According to longevity expert, Sharon Basaraba, “From the 1500s to around the year 1800, life expectancy throughout Europe hovered between the ages of 30 and 40” (Basaraba). Today our life expectancy has more than doubled since that time. Obviously, advances in medical care and hygiene make our world a better, safer place. We have vaccines, regulated hospitals, and most developed countries enjoy clean water. We also see improvements in food and environmental protections. Prior to the 1950s, corporations could dump toxic waste without fear of penalties, poisoning fish and water sources, as well as the surrounding agriculture. Since then food inspection and labeling has advanced, and even twenty years ago, people didn’t take the idea of avoiding GMOs and eating organic seriously, but today it is widely accepted. Okay, but what about all the violence and terrorism in the world?

According to a 2011 Huffington Post article, statistics show violence is down worldwide, despite global conflicts. “The rate of genocide deaths per world population was 1,400 times higher in 1942 than in 2008.

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Snagged from

“There were fewer than 20 democracies in 1946. Now there are close to 100. Meanwhile, the number of authoritarian countries has dropped from a high of almost 90 in 1976 to about 25 now. Rape in the United States is down 80 percent since 1973. Lynchings, which used to occur at a rate of 150 a year, have disappeared.

“Discrimination against blacks and gays is down, as is capital punishment, the spanking of children, and child abuse” (Seth Borenstein). But despite the data, most people I know believe violence is at an all-time high. Why? Because we hear about it, see it in graphic detail on the evening news and on our Twitter feed.

And what about civil rights? Although there are human rights violations daily all over the planet, more countries now have civil rights laws than ever before. Minorities and women in our country enjoy much more freedom and less prejudice than in the early 20th century although there is obviously a long way to go. Accommodations for the disabled have come very far. We’re seeing the right to marry for homosexuals granted in more and more states all the time. Working conditions are better thanks to unions and the 40-hour work week, there are no more sweat shops, at least in most developed countries, and there are child labor laws to protect the young. There are fewer injuries on the job and education is more available than 100 years ago, although rising costs of college are beginning to turn the trend back the other way. But weren’t people just happier in the past?

Not necessarily. Some people argue that we are in a recession, and people tend to be less happy in economic down-cycles. However, other research shows that people today are more likely to follow their dreams and opt for an emotionally fulfilling career over money, as long as they are somewhat secure. Perhaps because not many jobs today are secure, there is actually more perceived freedom to follow your dreams. Another reason people may be happier is because they are healthier or because they have more freedom to be themselves. Shana Lebowitz reports that a study in 2013 by The National Institute on Aging found that people are indeed happier than the same people were when they were younger, probably because people tend to get happier as they age. The study also found that people born after the Baby Boomers are happier than the Baby Boomers themselves (Lebowitz). As an English teacher, I read a lot of old books, and people do just seem nicer, more sensitive now, than portrayals of people hundreds of years ago. I have noticed that children seem less respectful; however, children also have gained more freedom and autonomy, which would explain a greater freedom to express themselves, especially in negative ways.

So are we truly spiraling the drain? Or is it just our perception?

I guess I am trying to say that although things seem horrible—and they are sometimes, as bad as it is, we do seem to be learning something. We are progressing even though we don’t hear about that on the evening news. All it takes is a little research to put things into perspective. I know we all expected to be driving hover cars and colonizing the moon, while reading about eradicated disease and something called war in the history books, but change is slow and we can’t see something grow while we are staring at it. So chin up—there is hope for the human race after all.—Christina Knowles


Basaraba, Sharon. “Longevity Throughout History: How has human life expectancy changed over time?” April 21, 2013. Available: Accessed: August 15, 2014.

Borenstein, Seth. Huffington Post. “World Becoming Less Violent: Despite Global Conflict, Statistics Show Violence In Steady Decline” October, 22, 2011. Available: Accessed: August 15, 2014.

Hoegen, Monika. “Statistics and the quality of life: Measuring progress – a world beyond GDP.” Edited by Thomas Wollnik. Available: Accessed: August 15, 2014.

Tabarrok, Alex. “Long Term Trends in Homicide Rates” June 1, 2011.Available: Accessed: August 15, 2014. 

Don’t Give Us Your Huddled Masses by Christina Knowles


Recently, I have witnessed many angry outbursts on social media regarding the approximately 100,000 unaccompanied immigrant children pouring over the border, originating from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, choosing to leave their families and risk the dangers of traveling alone to cross the border in search of hope and safety. These children, who are fleeing violence and poverty in their homeland, turn themselves in to American immigration authorities and beg for help. But apparently, numerous Americans, many of whom claim to be pro-life, refuse compassion to these starving, freezing, and abused children, and just want them immediately deported—sent back to the violence and chaos from whence they fled. I do not understand this curious and callous lack of common decency and compassion for these suffering children.

A few weeks ago, a friend posted this on his wall: “I am ashamed that SO MANY Texans will argue that a fetus is a living human and deserves to live a full life. But when a little ACTUAL FOREIGN kid shows up on your doorstep. All of the sudden you find every excuse as to why you can’t take care of it.” This caught my attention because I have always wondered about this particular paradox myself.

Before I had a chance to chime in, a person, whom I do not know and who will remain anonymous, responded, “But it’s ok for some bimbo who can’t get her shit together and get on BC or keep her legs shut to have multiple abortions. In some cases these late term abortion babies are born alive and left to die. That’s so f—ing sad. Your [spelling was not corrected] right I’m not taking care of a little American or foreign child. I did not make that choice to have sex and create them. In the form of taxes you could say I already do take care of them. People are put in jail for animal abuse and it’s ok to murder someone you never gave a chance to live.”

Apparently, she wanted to prove his point. I consider myself “pro-life” with certain exceptions, but I have never desired to align myself with the pro-life movement for exactly the reason that is portrayed in the original Facebook post mentioned above, and which, unfortunately, the second commenter confirmed in her response. For some reason, many people, in my experience, in the pro-life movement only seem to advocate for the lives of unborn children, which forgive me, strikes me as pro-birth, or even anti-abortion, but not pro-life. I, personally, don’t think one should label oneself pro-life, unless one is also interested in respecting all life, protecting the dignity of all living beings, having compassion on them, and doing one’s best to elevate their situation out of suffering. Unfortunately, these remarks and lack of concern for anyone except unborn fetuses are typical. I believe fetuses are human beings who have the right to live, but because another human being’s health and well-being is also involved, abortion is a complicated issue, but the question of whether or not to help these child refugees should not be complicated at all.

Most people who hold a hard line against illegal immigrants, in this case, more properly identified as refugees, do so because they fear that sharing our resources with others will cause our own people to go without. However, “the irony with today’s anti-immigrants is that they are themselves descendants of uninvited immigrants who came from countries lacking in opportunity a few hundred years before” (Alan Headbloom). And although the angry and indignant reaction of those in opposition to any humanitarian aid for these children is based in selfish instinct, I suppose this is somewhat understandable. It will require sacrifice on our part. However, if we are to be the leaders of the world we say that we are, then we need to set a humanitarian example. “The US is constantly insisting that countries around the world accept refugees. Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan are all accepting millions of Syrians, for example. They are much less equipped to do so based on their economies and their size in comparison to the numbers arriving,” according to Brenna Daldorph, journalist for France 24. Aren’t we at least willing to live up to the humanitarian standards we expect from others?

But beyond our reputation, I would like these people to consider that, both personally and as a nation, our most valuable possessions are our character and compassion, and if we are able and willing to coldly refuse help to those who cannot help themselves, especially children, who through no fault of their own, flee horrific conditions for the chance at a better life—or any life at all, then we have nothing worth preserving anyway.

How soon we forget our own history and what this country has long represented. America has always been a nation of immigrants, and we used to be proud of it. We visit the Statue of Liberty and read the beautiful words inscribed there:

Copyright 2011. Jake Bowen & Alan Headbloom.
Copyright 2011. Jake Bowen & Alan Headbloom.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus)

And we are moved and proud. But we have no reason for this pride any longer because too many of us don’t care about the huddled masses, the suffering, the starving. And why? Because we want to keep everything for ourselves. We don’t want to lose what we have and become like them. But by doing so, by protecting ourselves from them, we have become something far worse. We are not even worthy of them or of our heritage. If this is who we’ve become, if this is who we will be, then we truly have lost the best of who we once were.

As Americans, we need to once again become the nation worthy of being that “beacon of light,” that “shining city on the hill,” the country that stands against tyranny, protects the weak and downtrodden, and offers comfort and shelter at least as often as it wields its mighty force and influence. Like my friend who originally posted that he was ashamed, I don’t want to be ashamed of America anymore. I want to be proud, proud to be a citizen of a country who lives up to the lofty ideals of our forefathers, even if it costs us something. The price of protecting these children, we can afford. It is much more expensive not to; it will cost us everything, at least everything that matters—our character and our ideals.—Christina Knowles


You Know Who You Are by Christina Knowles

grumpy catPeople often mention their pet peeves. I really didn’t think I had very many until I started to think about it. I mean, I’m pretty easy to get along with, and I don’t usually get upset about little things. I do have a touch of OCD about a few things, and I’m kind of particular about how I like things done, but I don’t believe I really put that burden on the people around me–at least I try not to. I don’t expect the same things that bother me to bother other people. With that said, there are some things I consider to be more than slight irritants, and I apologize in advance if I sound rude or snippy, but once I started listing them, I started to feel a little annoyed. But what did you expect? Pet peeves do that to people. Here they are:

1. Napkins stuffed inside glasses: I’ve known a lot of people who do this. I find it utterly repulsive, mainly because I can’t help imagining the person who has to pull it out.

2. Leaving used tissues anywhere but the trash: Even my own used tissues disgust me. It makes me want to sterilize whatever surface they’ve touched.

3. Students who stick their gum under their desks or stuff trash into my cabinets: Seriously? There is a trashcan less than 15 feet from any desk in the room. Do teenagers shove their trash in their cupboards at home? Or is this some type of protest behavior, and I’m missing the point?

4. Vandalism other than protest graffiti: If you aren’t Banksy, you have no reason to deface any property that is not your own. Vandalism is truly the most senseless crime, and you probably aren’t as talented as Banksy anyway.

5. Giant flagpoles in the middle of the front yards of residential homes: Your house is not the White House, and you are not the president. Buy a regular size flag and mount it on your porch like a normal person.

6. Closet and cupboard doors left open: This is definitely an OCD thing, but come on, how hard is it to shut the cupboard after you take out the cereal? Someone could bump their head, or be driven insane until they are forced to get up in the middle of dinner to shut it, and then have to explain that they have OCD.

7. People not flushing toilets: You aren’t saving the planet because someone will have to flush it before they use it anyway, so it is still getting flushed the same amount of times. Stay until you see it go down. Repeat if necessary. Thanks.

8. People who have road rage: You are either way too stressed out before you ever get into the car, or you are leaving way too late for a job that you fear you are about to lose. Set your alarm for half an hour earlier, put on some classical music, and get a more laid-back job.

9. People whose only posts on Facebook are cryptic remarks that don’t say what they really mean, or who post suicidal song lyrics without saying they are quoting song lyrics. Want attention much? If you don’t want me knocking on your door in the middle of the night to see if I need to call an ambulance, please use quotation marks and credit the author. Even then, you may want to mention that you are not thinking of taking your life. I don’t need that kind of stress.

10. Speaking of Facebook, people who post ridiculous stories or claims from satirical sites because they think they are actually real, then get upset at you for posting a Snopes link on their wall. And while I’m on the subject, people who post false and mean-spirited memes that dehumanize or demoralize a person just because they disagree with his politics. Attack the issue, not the person, and by the way, the more preposterous the libel, the crazier they seem.

11. People who expound on issues as some kind of intellectual authority, but do so in run-on sentences, littered with homophones, and with no commas, way too many commas, or no punctuation whatsoever. If you cannot write using accepted conventions of your native tongue, I’m not likely to consider you an expert on anything intellectual. Disclaimer: I don’t judge every post this harshly. Sometimes a person is quickly posting something funny or replying briefly in a casual conversation, but if you are attempting to persuade someone of something with your wealth of knowledge, please demonstrate a wealth of knowledge.

It sounds much worse than it is. I rarely am bothered by any of these, which is why it took me some time to think of them. What it did for me, though, was make me realize that sitting around thinking of what annoys me. annoys me. It is not really a good idea . . . unless it causes a certain someone to stop leaving the cupboard doors open. You know who you are. –Christina Knowles

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