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Joy

New documentary celebrates the beautiful kinship between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

The friendship between these two "mischievous" spiritual icons is enough to bring hope and joy to any heart.

Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, joy
Mission: JOY

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu formed a close bond of friendship around shared joy and compassion.

When Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away, I wrote a bit about the unique friendship he shared with the Dalai Lama. Though they came from very different worlds—different nationalities, different faiths, different backgrounds—they shared a kinship based on compassion and joy.

And when I saw them together in "Mission: JOY"—a documentary on five days the two leaders spent together—I saw how beautiful that kinship truly was.

"Mission: JOY" is as much a reminder of what connects us as human beings as it is a celebration of these two iconic spiritual leaders. I laughed at how they teased one another like schoolboys. (It's also just impossible not to laugh along with Desmond Tutu's infectious laughter.) I teared up as they described how they responded to their own sufferings and showed so much care for one another. I smiled each time one of them lovingly reached out to take the other's hand as they shared stories, wisdom and jokes together.


But mostly, I walked away with a sense of calm hope for what is possible. If a Christian theologian from South Africa and a Buddhist monk from Tibet can form a strong bond of friendship like this with one another, then anyone can. This is a film the whole world needs to see. I think it's safe to say that every person would take something valuable away from it.

MISSION: JOY • Official Trailer • Documentary About the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu's Friendshipwww.youtube.com

Filmmaker Peggy Callahan shared some of the extraordinary experience of making "Mission: JOY" with Upworthy. Our Q&A with her provides some personal insight into the film and what it felt like to spend five days with two of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time.

How and why did you get involved in making this film?

"It was Thanksgiving Day almost seven years ago when I got a call from my 'brother from another mother,' Doug Abrams. He said, 'Do you want to come to Dharamsala and film a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu?'

"Of course, there is only one answer to a once-in-a-lifetime invitation like that. And that is how I got to spend five days with two of the people on the planet that I admired most.

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared deeply about how they managed to create joy for themselves, even during their darkest days. Doug and the two holy men used the transcripts from that days-long conversation to co-author 'The Book of Joy,' which became an international bestseller. And the footage from that conversation was the basis for our film, 'Mission: JOY - Finding Happiness in Troubled Times.'

"It seems to me that documentaries—and most meaningful things in life—require an unreasonable love. The kind of love that propels you. Compels you. Sustains and inspires you to get off the ground and keep going. It’s been a seven-year journey to create this film with a great team of artists. But I suspect the film recreated us all in some way. Unreasonable. Beautiful."

Why was it important to you personally that you create this film?

"I grew up in South Carolina at a time when racism was even thicker than the humidity. My mom is from Canada and didn’t buy into it one bit. You can imagine the salty words she’d whisper in my ear about systemic racism, as if systemic and racism were four-letter words.

"I remember parents of my white friends not allowing their kids to play at my house because my African American friends were there. The prejudice was so stark and so ugly that it never made sense on a primal level, leaving me out of step with the world I walked in. I think there is value in feeling like an outsider who sees the world differently. It’s easier to question. Examine. Appreciate or not. It’s perfect for a journalist or storyteller. Fighting injustice can be a great motivator in your career, and tricky in your personal life.

"Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness, along with people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mary Robinson were beacons for me because not only did they get up and do something about injustice, their actions were effective at changing power relationships. Their actions made a measurable difference in the daily lives of people who most of the world had forgotten.

"Also, many years ago Archbishop Tutu joined the International Advisory Board of an anti-slavery organization I co-founded called Voices4Freedom, so we had that personal connection as well. It’s the honor of a lifetime to help share Arch’s and His Holiness’s messages with the world, especially now when so many are hurting so much."

What words would you use to describe the relationship between these two global icons?

"These two are FUN, as is obvious within just the first few minutes of the film. They joke and tease each other with abandon. Having lunch with them in the Dalai Lama’s compound was an absolute riot. It had the feeling of getting together with your long-time friends where you knew going in that your stomach was going to hurt from laughing so hard.

"And they are congruent within themselves. There are lots of impressive, powerful leaders in the world that garner respect. Admiration, even. But few of those are so beloved. Why?

"I think it’s because with these two, what is real for them on the inside is what we see on the outside. They lived/live out their values in ways big and small every day, in every interaction, with everyone they encounter. What you see is what is actually real within them. It’s utterly compelling. As evidenced by the fact that, even though they are/were leaders of their respective faith traditions, people from ALL faith traditions and no faith tradition are inspired by them."

Filmmaker Peggy Callahan talking with the Dalai Lama during filming.

Mission: JOY

What were some things that surprised you as you were making this film?

"Can you believe that we had not one technical glitch during the filming in Dharamsala? We had the team members from four countries and needed to truck in equipment from Delhi, which is 12 hours away. If any equipment broke we had no way to get replacements in fast enough. But not one thing went wrong. Which is all the proof I need that holy men were in the house.

"Another surprise was that despite the complications of COVID, we were able to complete the film on time and within budget. Hollywood has technical terms for such occurrences: A miracle. Once in a blue moon. When pigs fly. You get the picture. That’s a huge tribute to the phenomenal team that came together to make this film, including four Academy Award winners."

Why do you think this story is important right now?

"Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one was hurting and a film like this wasn’t needed? And everyone on the planet already knew about the latest neuroscience and psychology research-based actions to help ourselves feel better? That, incidentally, look astonishingly like what spiritual traditions have been telling us for millennia?

"Even before the pandemic, there was a dramatic uptick in anxiety and depression, especially among young people. Now, one in four people report they are experiencing anxiety and depression. We see this even in our own families and circles of friends, right? People are hurting.

"That’s why we took the messages of the film one step further and operationalized what the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu shared. We partnered with researchers at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good In Action, UC San Francisco, Harvard and a consortium of other universities to create The BIG JOY Project. Anyone can sign up for free, and spend seven minutes a day for seven days trying out a different micro action that science shows boosts moods. At the end of seven days, you’ll get a cool BIG JOY Report that will show you which micro-act of joy works best for you!

"Already people from 108 countries have participated and have completed 38,572 micro-acts of joy! The BIG JOY Project is now the largest ever citizen-science project on joy. You’ve got to see the map of these people from all over the world. It’s a tidal wave of joy! We get excited about each and every additional dot on the map that appears, because we know that means that one more person is getting the quick start owner’s manual of how to be human and create more joy for themselves!"

If there were one lesson you hope people will take from this film, what would it be?

"Arch and His Holiness wanted everyone to know that, no matter their circumstances and no matter how broken they may feel, they are worthy of joy, and they are capable of creating it for themselves. If after seeing the film, people walk away with only that message, we have done our job.

"Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness joined forces one last time before the Archbishop passed away for a final shared mission: to help us create more joy for ourselves. They saw joy as that critical. To me, joy is the ultimate ‘clean fuel’ that powers everything we want to do in life. These great teachers put their hard-earned wisdom about the how-to of joy into movie form, as their final gift to each of us. It is yours to enjoy."

The Dalai Lama's team has organized a global watch event for the film via Facebook on June 2. You can learn more about the film and how to host a screening at missionjoy.org

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Strangers rally to cry for help for 22-year-old mother given just four months to live

In 24 hours, people flooded the family with donations to hopefully buy Rachael Burns some time with her 1-year-old daughter, Raeya.

Rachael Burns was given a dire prognosis as her daughter turned one.




Being given just a few months to live is a daunting prognosis for anyone, but when you're a 22-year-old mother with a 1-year-old daughter, it's particularly tragic. Your adult life has just begun. You are the world to your young child. Your partner is suddenly looking at losing you and becoming a single parent, all in one fell swoop.

Rachael Burns of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is facing that exact reality. Eight months ago, she began experiencing headaches, dizzy spells and irritation in her eyes, according to Belfast Live. At first, doctors chalked it up to dehydrated eyes and she considered them migraines, but after an emergency trip to the hospital in early June 2024, Burns was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma brain tumour—brain cancer with a rare, aggressive mutation that is spreading down her spine.


Because of its size and where it's located, doctors said there is no way to even attempt an operation on it. Consultants told her that anyone who came in with her symptoms and that diagnosis generally had 9 to 12 months to live.

"I’ve shown symptoms for the last eight," Burns told Belfast Live. “I was told to assume that that was the case and try to make the most of the next four months.

“I left that appointment with no real hope and I didn’t know how to tell my mum and the rest of the family, I didn’t want them to get upset. It felt like everything had just been taken away from me at that point."

Facing such a dire prediction, Burns began writing years' worth of birthday cards for her daughter, Raeya, who just had her first birthday. The only option appeared to be six weeks of radiotherapy, which would do little to help.

But research into experimental therapies unveiled a ray of hope to buy more time with her family.

"We've identified a potentially life-extending treatment in Germany, under the name of ONC201," the family shared on GoFundMe, "but it comes at a significant cost. Should Rachael qualify, we need funds to pay for travel costs, accommodation and the drugs themselves.

"We refuse to let financial worries hinder Rachael's fight for her life or deprive her and her daughter of precious time together. Our goal is to ensure their comfort should the worst come to pass. No one should go from celebrating their child's first birthday to facing a terminal illness so swiftly."

Not only did the local community of West Belfast turn out for this young family but people around the world did as well. In less than 24 hours, they'd raised £30,000 (approximately $38,000 U.S.).

mom and dad holding baby in front of a birthday cake

Donate to Support a young mother battling terminal cancer, organized by Rachael Burns.

www.gofundme.com

“I’m just totally overwhelmed by the response that we have got so far,” Rachael said. “Belfast is such a small place but you never think that people from all over would show as much kindness as they have done for me and my family. It is a scary time to be going through all of this but this has given me more hope that I can spend some more time with my family.”

Burns told The Irish News that the treatment she's seeking in Germany has extended the life of people with her diagnosis by as much as 22 months. That may not sound like much time, but in the life of a small child, it's hugely significant.

“My Raeya will always know just how much her mummy fought with everything in her power for even a quick glimpse of watching her grow into the beautiful, strong and kind girl I know she will be in this world," Burns said. “Situations are what you make of them and I refuse to just be another statistic.”

While the future is uncertain for the Burns family, the money that's been raised gives her the best chance for a miracle. Any funds that don't go to Rachael's treatment will go into a bank account for young Raeya "to support her in life for if the time comes when she loses her mother."

Find the GoFundMe here.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Identity

A message to my fellow Christians: I hope you're having a super uncomfortable Pride month

I know from painful, hard-earned experience what discomfort can do to change minds.

Nobody should live in fear.

This post was originally published on Substack. You can find it here.

I was a small town, conservative girl when my husband and I relocated to Orlando, Florida. I spent my time going from work to the barn, work to the barn, crying as I brushed my horse's mane.

"I'll never make friends in this town,” I sobbed over the phone with my mom one night.

The next day at work, I met Matt.

He had a brilliant smile and a southern drawl and he sounded like home. He loved horses, too, having spent years doing rodeo. Our friendship was instant and easy.

He visited the barn and taught me how to lasso. I picked up his favorite latte on the way to work. And on our lunch breaks, he would gush all about the love of his life, Jesse. I assumed Jesse was a girl, but that assumption turned out to be wrong. When we all met for lunch one day, I couldn't conceal my shock.

"Oh my GOSH, Matt! You're gay?"


"Um, DUH." He laughed. “Did the cowboy hat throw you off?”

I then remembered he had recently pointed out a bar a few blocks from my house. He mentioned that it was a fun place to go, and I replied that one day we should….but I hadn’t noticed the rainbow details.

"MK, your gay-dar isn't malfunctioning. It's completely nonexistent."

Matt and Jesse told me funny stories about drag contests and bouncers who wore shorty shorts. They insisted I would love Thursday night karaokes, but I assured them it wasn't my scene.

I blushed and giggled a little at the idea. It sounded fun, if not a bit scandalous.

Two people smiling together wearing Pride gear

Pride is not just some party.

Mary Katherine Backstrom

A week or so after that hilarious lunch date, I was driving home from a friend’s house, when I witnessed a young lady get struck by a car. I swerved to the side of the road and jumped out of my vehicle, screaming.

In an instant, people poured out of the bar to assist in the emergency. I barely registered that they were dressed flamboyantly. Their make up didn't strike me as strange. In that moment, we were all scared human beings. Their hearts were racing just like mine.

A drag queen cradled the woman’s head in his hands as I called the police.

“Don’t move, baby girl,” he comforted the woman. “Don’t mess up these pretty braids.”

It was a fraction of a moment that felt like forever. I can still hear her crying for Momma. Thankfully, the club was a block from the hospital. The ambulance arrived in an instant.

When the lights and sirens finally faded, my adrenaline couldn’t handle silence. It was like every one of us had been shaken like soft drinks, and in that moment, we had all cracked open. There were hugs and prayers exchanged between strangers. I remember someone humming a hymn.

Then slowly, one by one, the crowd dispersed. We had to go back to our lives. But not before exchanging a couple of phone numbers, promising to disperse any updates.

I called my friends, Matt and Jesse. I knew the gay community was a close one and I wondered if they had heard any news.

Matt asked around, but didn’t hear much.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We will know more tomorrow.”

I decided to stay up until then.

The next morning, we all went to breakfast with the drag queens who had started a text thread for updates. We bonded over hash browns and our collective trauma—and after coffee, just some regular life stories.

The woman, we learned, was in critical condition. Two broken legs and a fractured spine. James, who had cradled her head so gently, had probably saved her life. Turns out, he had done so with great intention because not only was he a drag queen, but once a month he returned to his rural hometown to serve as a medic for the volunteer fire department.

A hero. An absolute gem of a human.

Two years later, those same gentle heroes were working their jobs at Pulse when a hate-crazed terrorist made his way through the doors with a semi-automatic rifle. When he first started shooting, some patrons kept dancing.

They thought it was part of the music.

That detail never fails wreck my heart.

They kept dancing.

They just wanted to dance.

I’ll never forget the pit in my stomach as I stared at my phone through the night. Praying each name in that years-long text thread was sleeping at home in their beds. After four sleepless nights, we received confirmation—two of the group had been working. Both had escaped and survived the massacre.

But it wasn’t a happy ending.

An act of hate forever changed their lives, and they were deeply, irreversibly altered. One turned to drugs and the other disappeared. I pray he is still alive, somewhere.

But, yes. They survived. Thank God, I should say.

In an act of terror that killed 49 and hurt scores more, they were the lucky ones.

But when I think of that word...”lucky”.

God, it honestly pisses me off.

That’s how low the bar is, y’all. That’s where we are as a society.

Our gay friends are sometimes just lucky to survive.

How can this be who we are?

If you talk to the LGBTQ community, and I mean really get to know them, you will hear a whole lot of heart breaking versions of what they consider to be “lucky.”

Their parents didn’t disown them. They are lucky.

They haven’t been physically assaulted. Lucky.

They survived a terrorist attack.

Lucky.

I am so deeply over this shit.

Nobody, nobody should live in fear. Nobody should feel lucky that they’ve avoided physical abuse, or emotional abuse, or my Lord, mass murder.

Six short years after the Pulse shooting, what is it going to take?

Look how broken America is. Look what this hate has cost us.

And look at the religious mouthpieces for hate who are becoming more and more emboldened.

Just last week, I posted a meme celebrating the beginning of Pride. It said:

Wishing all the homophobes a SUPER uncomfortable month!

I post it every year and I usually laugh my butt off. It’s too easy to predict all the comments. It’s the same old crap, different mouths, every year.

“Well, that’s not very Christlike.”

“I don't hate anyone! I hate the sin, but I don’t hate the sinner.”

“Ohhhhhh, well who is intolerant now?”

This year, I am truly done laughing. I used to abide this shit, but to be honest, I really can’t do it, anymore. I’ve read and I’ve lived through enough horrible history to understand this terrible truth: Polite hate is the most dangerous kind of hate. It loads the gun, then just backs away quietly.

Christians, please, open your eyes. It’s two thousand and freaking twenty four. I know that you know exactly how this works. You don’t get a pass for good manners.

I won’t let you hide behind pat platitudes when your beliefs give motive to terrorists.

You don’t get to say “it’s the sin that I hate” when that mantra makes bullets for terrorists.

And yah, I guess you could call me intolerant. Smack that sticker on my forehead, I don’t care. For years, I have tolerated far too much from the bigoted backrow Baptists. But the paradox of tolerance states that if a society's practice of tolerance is inclusive of the intolerant…in the end, intolerance will win the day.

And that’s exactly how people die dancing.

So yah, not only do I wish the homophobes reading an incredibly uncomfortable month—I hope this discomfort convicts your soul, and makes you question EVERYTHING. I hope the itch in your spirit spreads to places you can’t bend over to scratch.

I hope enough people walk away from your screeching that you are left alone with your hate. And I hope that hate makes you sick to your stomach when you realize the harm it has caused.

Being gay is not a sin. And Pride is not some party.

It’s a courageous protest that weak minded fearful bigots just can’t comprehend.

It’s authenticity in the face of oppression. Vulnerability in the face of violence.

Pride is the spirit of millions of people who have chosen to dance in the crosshairs.

Growing up in the church, I was frequently told that there are evil forces at work. That these forces were fighting against God’s will, and causing harm to His people. Now, I can see that the threat was true, but it was coming from inside the house.

There are evil, hateful forces at work right now…against the LGBTQ community. Some of those forces look like Saints when they’re hiding behind stained glass.

It’s gonna take a force, equal and opposite in power and passion, to turn the church around. So, if you’re a Christian who has been fence-sitting this issue, it’s time to get off the damn fence.

This June, I beg you to look past the prejudice and the preaching you’ve had crammed down your throat your whole life. Look past your anger, and your pastor’s fear. Look at these beautiful humans. Trying with all their hearts to claim the dignity and love and safety that they, as humans, deserve.

This?

THIS is what you are scared of?

These are the forces of evil?

If that’s what you think then, my friend, you’ve been brainwashed.

I get it. I was brainwashed, too.

But all along, I deep down in my heart, I knew there was something amiss. I couldn’t quite rationalize what I knew of God’s love with the hate I saw coming from church.

For twenty years, I was too afraid to challenge my faith. I thought that it might fall apart.

But that is EXACTLY why I wish all the homophobes a SUPER uncomfortable month. Because I know from painful, hard-earned experience what discomfort can do to change minds.

So, instead of doubling down on your hateful theology…I ask you, non-affirming Christians, in the name of our faith. In the name of God’s love.

Will you please put your weapons down?

Will you consider the lesson that I learned on the street in front of Pulse so many years ago?

Will you feel the heartbeats of your fellow humans, and for once SEE YOURSELF IN THEM?

I beg you to try.

I beg you to grow.

It’s already been far too late.

You can follow Mary Katherine Backstrom on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

Family

I told a kid a riddle my dad told me when I was 7. His answer proves how far we've come.

This classic riddle takes on new meaning as our world changes for the better.




When I was 7, my dad told me a riddle.

"A man and his son are driving in their car when they are hit by a tractor-trailer.

Photo via iStock.

(We were driving at the time, so of course this was the riddle he decided to tell.)

The father dies instantly.

The son is badly injured. Paramedics rush him to the hospital.

Photo via iStock.

As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, I answered:


"The doctor is his mom!"

Photo via iStock.

My dad first heard the riddle when he was a child in the '60s.

Back then, most women didn't work outside of the home.

Few of those who did had college degrees, much less professional degrees.

Female doctors were few and far between.

Back then, it was a hard riddle. A very hard riddle.

By 1993, when I first heard it, the notion that women could be highly skilled, highly trained professionals wasn't so absurd.

To me, it was normal.

I knew women who were lawyers. Bankers. Politicians. My own doctor was a woman.

To be sure, women still faced challenges and discrimination in the workplace. And even 20 years later, they still do.

But at its core, the riddle is about how a family can work. And that had changed. Long-overdue progress had rendered the big, sexist assumption that underpinned the whole thing moot.

A very hard riddle was suddenly not a riddle at all.

I never forgot it.

Now, I'm 30 — almost as old as my dad was he first told me that riddle.

My dad at 30 (left) and me at 30. Photos by Eric March/Upworthy and Mary March, used with permission.

I don't have kids, but I mentor a child through a volunteer program.

Once a week, we get together and hang out for an hour. We play ping pong, do science experiments, and write songs. Neither of us like to go outside.

It's a good match.

One day, we decided to try to stump each other with riddles.

He rattled off about five or six.

I could only remember one: The one about the man, his son, and the surgeon.

Photo via iStock.

I thought it would be silly to tell it.

I was sure that, if it was easy in 1993, it would be even easier in 2014. Kind of ridiculous, even.

But a part of me was curious.

It had been 21 years — almost as long as it had been between when my dad first heard the riddle and when he shared it with me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so easy.

Maybe I was missing something obvious, making my own flawed assumptions about how a family could work.

Maybe the world had changed in ways that would be second nature to a 13-year-old but not to me.

So I began:

"A man and his son are driving in their car, when they are hit by a tractor-trailer. The father dies instantly. The son is badly injured and is rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look at the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, he answered: "it's his other dad"

Photo via iStock.

Times change. Progress isn't perfect. But no matter what shape a family takes, at the end of the day, #LoveWins.


This article was written by Eric March and originally appeared on 06.21.16

Pop Culture

Alan Tudyk creates Reddit account just to connect with fan who missed out on talking to him

The 'Resident Alien' star sent the sweetest message to a fan who lamented not telling him how important the show was to her.

This is how you treat a fan.

Even if you don’t typically get star struck, odds are there’s one celebrity that would send you into a nervous fit should you ever come face-to-face. Especially if that celebrity was part of a project that meant a great deal to you.

Like, how do you tell them that a movie or TV show they starred in changed your entire outlook on life in the 30 seconds that you’re probably allowed to interact with them? You can’t. So instead you say something lame alá “Gee, I’m your biggest fan,” as they politely sign some memorabilia, and then your time is up. Opportunity for connection with someone who greatly impacted your life: gone.

This is what happened when a fan of the sci-fi comedy “Resident Alien” got a chance to meet the show’s star, Alan Tudyk, at a convention.


Unfortunately, nerves got the best of her, and she “blew” her chance to share how meaningful the show has been during a particularly dark period of her life. Filled with anguish and embarrassment, she created a throwaway Reddit account just to vent about the experience.

“I went to Fan Fest Boston and met Alan on Saturday,” her post began. “I wanted to tell him that ‘Resident Alien’ was the first show that made me laugh after my husband died this winter, that it helped me to feel human again, and I wanted to thank him for that.”

via GIPHY

However, the OP was very aware of how “exhausted” Tudyk appeared, and the long lines of people still waiting to see him. Plus she knew they couldn’t say their piece “without crying.”

So instead, she “stood there awkward and stupid,” and made a joke about “Firefly,” the show that launched Tudyk’s career.

The entire debacle left the OP regretting that she never got a chance to let Tudyk know “that his work really affected someone and helped them through a hard time.”

“I know he probably wouldn’t care and he would forget by the end of the day so I’m not sure why it’s bothering me so much, but I just really wanted to say thank you.” the post concluded.

Well, through the almighty power of the internet, Tudyk found out about this post. And he responded in such a thoughtful way.

resident alien, alan tudyk

A photo of Tudyk's response

preview.redd.it

Here’s what he wrote:

“My friend sent me this. Sorry you feel like you missed your opportunity. I have read your message. I love that you have such a beautiful connection with the show. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I’m glad you’re finding your laugh again and honored that I’m a part of that. Your story and similar stories I’ve heard are so touching. It makes me feel like my work, which I appreciate getting to do, has worth beyond the Hollywood hustle of it all and the BS business of show business.”

Tudyk even gave the OP another opportunity to meet, inviting her to come by the following day before he hopped on a plane so that he could also say “thank you in person.”

Though the OP wasn’t able to meet Tudyk that day (she explained in a follow-up post that it would be her kids’ first Father’s Day without dad, and they had to “come first”), she noted that she would return to the same convection next year, and tell it to him again—this time in person.

She also ended her heartwarming post with a very appropo “Resident Alien” quote, in which Tudyk’s non-human character Harry reflects:

“Everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves. Yes, there is strength in numbers, but maybe it's simpler. Maybe humans just feel better when they know they are not alone on this earth.”

Family

Mom seeks support after son gets upsetting note from another kid's parents at camp

“I am trying to handle properly so I don't let my anger get the best of me and I go off on a parent.”

What do you do when the adults behave like children?




Even when parents do their best to teach kids the importance of kindness and mutual respect, tiffs will happen. Navigating those circumstances is tricky enough, but when the adults also participate in immature behavior, well…that’s a whole ‘nother can of interrelational worms.

This was the dilemma that a mom named Victoria found herself in, and it caused her so much uncertainty that she reached out to her TikTok followers for advice.

Here’s what happened: her 7-year-old son had gotten into a few arguments with another child while at summer camp.


“Camp counselors have noticed it. They said something to my son, said something to this other kid, also talked to me about it and also to the other parent. They did not tell me who this other child is for safety, privacy, that’s fine, I don’t care,” she said in her video.

Victoria went on to explain that after the camp reached out, she and her husband talked to her son “at length” about how these altercations were not okay.

“We treat people the way we want to be treated and that we are nice and we don’t do those things. We are at camp to make friends, not to make enemies. Be nice and stop your garbage,” she told him.

@wickatoria89 Would you be mad if you’re seven-year-old received a letter like this from an adult?#bulling #parents #advice #parentingtips #parenting #madmomma #fyp ♬ original sound - Victoria

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the end of the issue.

The next day, her husband watched as their son walked up to the camp grounds, where the other little boy was, along with his grandmother. The grandmother apparently “stared” at Victoria’s son, asked her grandson, “Is that the little boy?” and when she got a “yes,” she handed her grandson a note to give to Victoria’s son.

Victoria’s husband quickly stepped in to take the note and notify the camp, because it was written by the boy’s parents, and wasn’t very kind.

Here’s what it said:

“Ethan, Please STAY AWAY from [name of boy]! Do not talk to him! Do not touch him! Do not even look at him! You guys do not get along! I do not want to hear another incident that involves you! Keep your hands + your mouth to yourself!!!”

This “infuriated” Victoria, and even the camp counselor who was shown the note was pretty flabbergasted, saying in their 32 of teaching, they had “never seen” something like that.

Still, in an effort to not let anger get the best of her and “handle the situation properly,” Victoria sought out the advice of other parents to see how they might respond.

Across the board, folks agreed that the note was inappropriate, and that Victoria should reach out to the camp directly.

“That note should be grounds to remove that family from camp. Period,” one person wrote.

Another added, “The other parents are unhinged. Escalate to the director ASAP. If they don’t dismiss the other family, I’d switch camps. They are not safe people.”

Another person wondered if there was “more to the story” since the notes mentioned that the boy should keep his hand to himself, which implied hitting might be involved. Victoria clarified that “The counselors simply told me they were playing and then at one point they started arguing and calling one another names. This has happened a few times when they played together.”

Whether there’s “more to the story” or not, people are in agreement that the other adults unfortunately aren't offering much in the way of setting a good example of mature problem-solving. But hopefully Victoria can feel a little more at ease with the support she got from online viewers, and have more confidence in going to the camp director about this situation.