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America, we're better than this. And these moments prove it.

A silent majority of great Americans are doing important, kind, beautiful things.

The internet is plastered with headlines about how our country is falling apart.

But I believe we're better than that.

There are so many tiny reminders every day that there's a silent majority of great Americans doing important, kind, beautiful things — from Muslims supporting parishioners from burned Christian churches to a Baptist church embracing refugees to a Broadway cast celebrating peeing wherever you please.


While it might seem like we're on the wrong track, humans show us every day that there's still hope. Let's take a closer look at seven ways America is better than we know:

1. Bigotry. We're better than that!

Some guy with weird hair who I'm TOTALLY NOT WORRIED ABOUT sent out a campaign press release saying this about Muslims:

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

But tell that to the group of Muslim activists and organizations that raised over $100,000 to help black churches in South Carolina rebuild after they were burned in the wake of the Charleston shooting.

Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

These Muslim activists are a reflection of good people helping one another, but their generosity also embodies the Muslim principle of neighborliness. The Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry."

In a previous interview with Upworthy, religious scholar Najeeba Syeed explained it poignantly: "In Ramadan you give to one's neighbor no matter who that neighbor is. You don't ask if that neighbor is Muslim, you just give."

2. Rejecting women's rights. We're better than that!

However you feel about the subject, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in America. American women's right to an abortion was affirmed on the day of that ruling, and that's great.

But despite that Supreme Court ruling, tiny laws have been making abortion less and less available. According to Planned Parenthood:

  • 316 restrictions on safe, legal abortion have been passed by state lawmakers since 2011.
  • 422 restrictions on safe, legal abortion were introduced in the first six months of 2016 alone by state lawmakers.
  • 57% of women live in a state that is either hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said, "Rights aren't worth a damn if you can't access them." It's true.

Image via Library of Congress/Flickr.

But here's the thing about Americans: They don't want to endanger women or chip away at their rights! The majority of Americans don't want restrictions that are meant to shutter health centers and make it more difficult to access abortion. And 70% of Americans don't want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, either.

Plus, the Supreme Court recently ruled against limitations on access to abortion in the case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion: "In the face of no threat to women's health, Texas seeks to force women to travel long distances to get abortions in crammed-to-capacity superfacilities."

See? We're better than that.

3. Police brutality? We're definitely better than that.

But we're not showing it.

We have a LONG WAY TO GO.

Nothing can bring back any of the people who were killed. And before America gets better, it must admit that it has a problem: a problem with police brutality, a problem with race, a problem with having this problem and not prioritizing solving it.

In a recent statement on police brutality, President Obama said, "To admit we've got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement."

Projects like The Guardian US's "The Counted" give me hope, though, that we're trying to be better than this. The project counts the number of people killed by police in America each year and pushes these stories to the forefront of conversation.

4. Not believing in our effect on the environment? We're also better than that ... and there's proof.

Over half of congressional Republicans reject climate change science. In response to a question from the Cincinnati Enquirer about what it would take for the Senate majority leader to take climate change seriously, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said: "I’m not a scientist. I am interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy, I’m interested in having low cost electricity."

But guess what? We're better than this, too!

President Obama, in his State of the Union Address, seemed to respond directly to this comment: “Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at NOAA, and at our major universities ... and the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate.”

And check this: According to a study in Science, the giant hole in the ozone is getting smaller.

Image via NASA/Wikimedia Commons (altered).

According to Vox, this depletion is due to humans working together to save their planet:

"Under the Montreal Protocol of 1987, the world's nations agreed to phase out the use of CFCs in refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam, and fire suppression. By and large, countries complied. Atmospheric concentrations of chlorine have stabilized and have been declining slowly over time."

5. That whole North Carolina "stay-in-the-right-bathroom" thing? We're so much better than that.

North Carolina's legislature passed a bill that prevents local governments from allowing folks to choose a bathroom based on the gender they identify as, and it was not great.

But instead of running with this law, here's what's happening in the world: The Tony Award-winning Broadway show "Kinky Boots" (which just happens to feature a main character who is a drag queen) made a video titled "Just Pee."

Image via Broadway's "Kinky Boots"/Micdotcom.

It's been viewed over 9.3 million times on Facebook alone. The population of North Carolina is 9.9 million. And people are speaking out about this issue everywhere, in every state.

6. Just plain racism? We're better than that.

But we have a long way to go here too.

Recently, Jesse Williams went on BET and described reality:

But then people tried to get him off his show, "Grey's Anatomy," for being a truthful person who says truth!

But ABC cares about diversity. How? Well, Shonda Rhimes works there. And its new president is an African-American woman. And it has a whole series of fellowships dedicated to making sure its writers and directors (among others) come from diverse backgrounds.

So, in response to that backward petition came ABC's forward-thinking policies, already in effect:


Because yes: We are better than that. We need to be better than that.

7. Finally, Christian intolerance. We're better than this, too.

Many folks know the Southern Baptist Church for its intolerance. A devout Baptist, President Jimmy Carter even announced that he was leaving the church because of its intolerance.

But as Samantha Bee recently pointed out in her piece on the Brexit, many Evangelicals (she says there are 15 million in America) are rebelling against the GOP and welcoming refugees in to their homes and churches.

At the Southern Baptist Church's annual 2016 meeting in St. Louis, one man asked a pointed question about Muslims to Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

GIFs via "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee."

Moore answered:

Soul freedom!

When you dig just a little deeper and look beyond the news — when you look at what real humans are up to in the real world — you might be surprised at what you see.

We have a long way to go when it comes to policies and laws, as well as discrimination, racism, and diversity. But at our core, we're better than this. Millions of Americans are better than this.

Here's to MORE stories about that, and to making changes together that show how much better we can be.

A woman is shocked to learn that her name means something totally different in Australia.

Devyn Hales, 22, from California, recently moved to Sydney, Australia, on a one-year working visa and quickly learned that her name wouldn’t work Down Under. It all started when a group of men made fun of her on St. Patrick’s Day.

After she introduced herself as Devyn, the men laughed at her. "They burst out laughing, and when I asked them why, they told me devon is processed lunch meat,” she told The Daily Mail. It's similar to baloney, so I introduce myself as Dev now,” she said in a viral TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

For those who have never been to Australia, Devon is a processed meat product usually cut into slices and served on sandwiches. It is usually made up of pork, basic spices and a binder. Devon is affordable because people buy it in bulk and it’s often fed to children. Australians also enjoy eating it fried, like spam. It is also known by other names such as fritz, circle meat, Berlina and polony, depending on where one lives on the continent. It's like in America, where people refer to cola as pop, soda, or Coke, depending on where they live in the country.


So, one can easily see why a young woman wouldn’t want to refer to herself as a processed meat product that can be likened to boloney or spam. "Wow, love that for us," another woman named Devyn wrote in the comments. “Tell me the name thing isn't true,” a woman called Devon added.

@dhalesss

#fypシ #australia #americaninaustralia #sydney #aussie

Besides changing her name, Dev shared some other differences between living in Australia and her home country.

“So everyone wears slides. I feel like I'm the only one with 'thongs'—flip-flops—that have the little thing in the middle of your big toe. Everyone wears slides,” she said. Everyone wears shorts that go down to your knees and that's a big thing here.”

Dev also noted that there are a lot of guys in Australia named Lachlan, Felix and Jack.

She was also thrown off by the sound of the plentiful magpies in Australia. According to Dev, they sound a lot like crying children with throat infections. “The birds threw me off,” she said before making an impression that many people in the comments thought was close to perfect. "The birds is so spot on," Jess wrote. "The birds, I will truly never get used to it," Marissa added.

One issue that many Americans face when moving to Australia is that it is more expensive than the United States. However, many Americans who move to Australia love the work-life balance. Brooke Laven, a brand strategist in the fitness industry who moved there from the U.S., says that Aussies have the “perfect work-life balance” and that they are “hard-working” but “know where to draw the line.”

Despite the initial cultural shocks, Devyn is embracing her new life in Australia with a positive outlook. “The coffee is a lot better in Australia, too,” she added with a smile, inspiring others to see the bright side of cultural differences.

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Maybe she's born with it. But maybe it just modern day cosmetics.

A woman named Tallulah Rose recently went viral after sharing a well-intentioned, but oh-so misinformed compliment men tend to give her. It left a lot of other women nodding in agreement, because it revealed what still seems to be a common beauty myth.

"I actually just, like, don't understand men and how their brain works sometimes because today I was just minding my own business when this guy comes up to me and is like ‘you are so elegant, you are such a natural beauty,'" she said in the clip.

Of course, Rose is positive any other woman would instantly know that the beauty men are responding to is anything but natural.


“I think a woman can take one look at me and be like … this is fake,” she said before breaking down the costs of enhancements she’s made.

“My jawline cost $10,000, okay? My lips are clearly done. My hair is $2000, my lashes are $200 every two weeks.”

jawline cosmetic surgery, natural cosmetic procedures

"My jawline costs $10,000, okay?"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

She then lifted her bangs to show a wrinkle-less forehead and immovable eyebrows, thanks to Botox or some other kind of anti-wrinkle injection. Plus, she has “enough makeup on to season a f***ing wok.”

Still, men will wistfully tell her “ 'they don't make them like you do these days.” to which Rose quipped, “yes they do with a needle and a scalpel!”

plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures

"They don't make 'em like you these days…yes they do! With a needle and a scalpel!"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Since sharing this hot take, Rose’s video has garnered over 12 million views on TikTok and has been shared across several platforms. Most of the comments came from women who have had their own fair share of this experience.

Some were just as hilarious as the original video.

"My husband was like 'please never get Botox' If I could raise my eyebrows at him I would have,” one person wrote.

Another added, ““I’ve had male friends remark how I don’t wear heavy makeup like other girls. I spend at least 30 mins a day putting my face on.”

Over on X, people were just refreshed by Rose’s honesty.

Rose told news.com.au that many men “genuinely can’t tell the difference between a natural woman and a woman that has had cosmetic surgery,” primarily due to seeing celebrities who have had work done and assuming that’s the standard. She’ll often ask male friends to name a celebrity crush, and “they’ll name someone that has clearly had work done but they are just quite clueless to it.”

And that is really where the important conversation comes in. Unrealistic beauty standards aren’t necessarily a new issue. But now the paradox of cosmetic procedures being stigmatized while at the same time not even acknowledged in much of what is touted as natural beauty puts women in an impossible position. They can’t naturally live up to these expectations, and then are labeled as fake if they do make efforts to look enhanced (which is the new normal…make it make sense).

Point is: Praising a woman for her “natural beauty” might be intended as a compliment. But for many, it’s neither true, nor a compliment.

Pop Culture

SNL sketch about George Washington's dream for America hailed an 'instant classic'

"People will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Seriously, what were our forefathers thinking with our measuring system?

Ever stop to think how bizarre it is that the United States is one of the only countries to not use the metric system? Or how it uses the word “football” to describe a sport that, unlike fútbol, barely uses the feet at all?

What must our forefathers have been thinking as they were creating this brave new world?

Wonder no further. All this and more is explored in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch that folks are hailing as an “instant classic.”

The hilarious clip takes place during the American Revolution, where George Washington rallies his troops with an impassioned speech about his future hopes for their fledgling country…all the while poking fun at America’s nonsensical measurements and language rules.

Like seriously, liters and milliliters for soda, wine and alcohol but gallons, pints, and quarters for milk and paint? And no “u” after “o” in words like “armor” and “color” but “glamour” is okay?

The inherent humor in the scene is only amplified by comedian and host Nate Bargatze’s understated, deadpan delivery of Washington. Bargatze had quite a few hits during his hosting stint—including an opening monologue that acted as a mini comedy set—but this performance takes the cake.

Watch:

All in all, people have been applauding the sketch, noting that it harkened back to what “SNL” does best, having fun with the simple things.

Here’s what folks are saying:

“This skit is an instant classic. I think people will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

“Dear SNL, whoever wrote this sketch, PLEASE let them write many many MANY more!”

“Instantly one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time!!!”

“I’m not lying when I say I have watched this sketch about 10 times and laughed just as hard every time.”

“This may be my favorite sketch ever. This is absolutely brilliant.”


There’s more where that came from. Catch even more of Bargatze’s “SNL” episode here.


This article originally appeared on 10.30.23

Family

Dad and son had no idea their pet octopus would soon hatch 50 eggs. Cue wholesome chaos.

It's an epic saga that's wholesome, captivating and heartfelt all at once.

Representative Image from Canva

Their journey became the best nature show on social media.

What started as a wholesome father-son bonding activity quickly became a full blown TikTok sensation, all thanks to one octopus. Actually…make that fifty octopuses.

Cameron Clifford of Edmond, Oklahoma, had promised to get his cephalopod-obsessed 9-year old Cal their very own pet octopus. After making a call to a local aquarium, Clifford made good on that promise, and a California two-spot (or bimac) octopus, which they would name Terrance, arrived via mail order. Cue Cal’s instant tears of joy.

Only, in hindsight, they might have wanted to name him Teresa instead, because only two months later, Terrance’s already too-small tank was filled with dozens of eggs.



"We kind of estimate there was about between 40 and 70 eggs but every one that hatched, that I saw, I was able to catch and contain. It was exactly 50," Clifford told Good Morning America.

As Clifford explains in one TikTok video (using a posh british voice for the narration, making it even more National Geographic-esque), once female bimac octopuses lay eggs, that usually signals the end of their life cycle, and they stop taking care of themselves in order to protect their young.

@doctoktopus Terrance signals the end of her life-cyxle, but we have no idea how mich time we have left wirh her. #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #aquarium #octomom #biology #mom ♬ Heartbeats - Remastered 2023 - José González

So, even though Terrance (who was eventually renamed Terry) could recognize Clifford and Cal, nothing could coax her out of her cave after the eggs were laid. However, latching onto their arms remained one of her favorite pastimes.

Terrance’s eggs were at first deemed infertile by several experts that Clifford talked to, which made her upcoming demise all the more tragic. When the unexpected miracle finally did happen, Clifford begged for other aquariums in his area to take the hatchlings. They all declined.

So naturally, he reached out to TikTok. He shared the previously private videos documenting their journey, including the insane saga of capturing each newly hatched octopus and putting it in its own incubated container, so that they wouldn’t eat each other. The Clifford home honestly became a bona fide marine biologist training center. Only with exponentially more puns.

Behold, "Clamsterdam":

@doctoktopus SOONERS DEFEAT DARWIN IN BIG 12 CONF. CHAMPIONSHIP 🏈 🐙 #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #saltwatertank #aquarium #octomom #mom #clambake #poseidon #tank ♬ original sound - Shoptopus

Speaking of puns, viewers also helped give each of the octo-babies. Some examples include InverteBrett, Swim Shady, Bill Nye the Octopi, Sea-yonce and Jay-Sea…you get the picture.

Luckily, after Clifford’s account went mega viral, other aquariums, universities and research facilities agreed to give them homes, per USA Today.

Clifford might be out thousands of dollars—and hours—on his impromptu project, but he wouldn't trade it for the world.

@doctoktopus 😳 #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #octomom #biology #saltwatertank #mom ♬ original sound - Shoptopus

"As far as regrets, there's so many," he told USA Today. "I wish I wouldn't have opened that valve that way and dumped all that dirty seawater onto my kids' white carpet. That's certainly a regret. But overall, no, it's been an absolutely fun experience, not just for me, but also for my kids."

And in case you’re wondering: Yes, Terrence is still, miraculously, alive. Though she is expected to die in the next several weeks, the Cliffords are more than prepared to be surprised. Again.

Though Clifford attests that one should probably refrain from have an octopus for a pet, he tells his followers that “you will learn a lot about yourself” by taking care of one.

“There’s always some valve or seal that’s not completely closed, and your storm resistant carpet isn’t rated for gallons and gallons of seawater. You’ll learn that seawater and electricity don’t always get along. You will learn new things and meet incredible people and will learn that wildlife is magnificent. But most of all, you’ll learn to love a not-so-tiny octopus like Terrance.”

Follow along on more of Clifford and Cal's octopus adventures on TikTok.

Image created from @maymaybarclay Twitter page.

The courage to speak up to join in the fun.

Meet Mason Brian Barclay, a teen and self-described "very homosexual male." He recently wanted to attend a sleepover at his "new best friend" Houston's house, because teens are gonna teen. But he's a boy, and everyone knows boys aren't allowed to attend girls' sleepovers, because of cooties/patriarchal norms.

So he behaved more maturely than most adults, and crafted a long text message to Houston's mom, Mrs. Shelton, in which he politely asked for permission to attend Houston's sleepover.


"I think the common meaning behind only allowing the same sex to share sleepovers is due to the typical interest in the opposite sex, when, in this case, I do not like the opposite sex," he explained in the text.


Mrs. Shelton's response was so good that Mason tweeted it out and it went viral:

"Hmm. Well my husband is hot. Should I worry?" she responded.

via GIPHY

Evidently Mason found Mrs. Shelton's text hilarious. So does Twitter.

And others are just wondering if the sleepover is on, or not??

Others need to know if Houston's dad lives up to the hype:

This article originally appeared on 11.26.18