My Blog List

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Roger Ebert

Over the past two or three days we have been talking extensively about an exceptional man named Roger Ebert.  Roger Ebert was a famous movie critic in the late 1900s and suffered from a cancerous thyroid.  He lost his lower jaw and was unable to talk or eat.  He went on to start blogging about life, movies, and his own personal struggles.  He gained millions of followers and influenced people on a global scale. Unfortunately he died in April of 2013.  I certainly see him as an amazing person.  His willingness to continue to live through whatever way possible is inspiring.  I have never heard or seen anything like Roger Ebert and I am glad that his disabilities did not prevent him from doing what he loved, watching movies and writing.  When I first heard what he did in the earlier years of his life it sounded exciting, but at the same time very foreign.  His life after the operation almost seemed more common to me.  He sounded content and happy with how his life had turned out.  This can be seen in my favorite quote of his: "there is no need to pity me, look how happy I am this has led to an explosion of writing."  I have the most trouble embodying this, but I feel it is the most important.  Being happy even through your troubles is the only way to find real joy in life.   Without pain and suffering there would be nothing to compare your happiness to. 
One of the questions we tried to figure out during our discussions was why is it that some people sink and others swim when faced with personal tragedy?  I can't give a clear definite answer to this question and I don't think anyone can, but me more so than others because I've been lucky.  I really haven't been faced with too much personal tragedy, I have been faced with defeat more than anything.  Sometimes I'll get discouraged or give up temporarily, but each time I bounce back.  I am forced back into my daily routine and regain my optimistic and hopeful outlook on life.  I don't have the answer to this question, I can only share my own experiences.  One thing I've noticed is that I often reflect the environment I'm put in.  If everyone is happy and cheerful in the room I'm in, I will almost all the time be cheerful as well.  On the other hand if everyone decided to be a Debbie downer one day I will probably fit the crowd.  Maybe this can be related to the question.  Individuals who are in a good environment after a tragedy are more likely to swim.  I think the only way I could answer this question for sure is if I myself were experiencing a great tragedy that would mean the end of my life.  If I knew that I was going to die in 4 months then I would be able to say this made me want to give up, but this pushed me forward.  In any case Robert Ebert is the best example of someone who decided to swim even when faced with all of these tragedies pulling him under the surface of the water.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Racism in America

In the past few weeks we have been talking intensively about racism and its influence on people in the US and around the world.  I have learned so much about the real problems the world has been facing today.. Before our continued discussions I was almost completely oblivious to the problems people of color face everyday.  Bottom line, racism is not dead and based on the events of the past year I don't think it will be anytime soon.  One of the major players in keeping racism alive is the Criminal Justice System.  Not to say that the whole system and everyone in it is flawed, but a good portion of it needs fixing.  The facts are there.  Stops, arrests, and sentencing are all greatly influenced by the color of a persons skin.  It is hard for anyone to deny that, but I think that the issues lie more deeply in the individuals mindset.  All of us are born with misconceptions whether they develop into racism or not is up to us and our environment.  This may be a bit bold of me to say, but I believe that racism and the desire to prize yourself over others is in every human being, but it is brought out more so in the criminal justice system because they have the power to do so. If people are not being punished for their incorrect actions then what is to keep them from doing it again?  The cop in Ferguson and the cops involved in the Eric Garner killing were all not indicted.  I think it is pretty safe to say that if those cops were regular people instead they would have definitely been arrested.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we need to start treating cops as people rather than giving them privilege because of their occupation.  Now I'm not saying for a second that we shouldn't respect policemen and women and I am completely aware of the fact that it is their responsibility to keep everyone safe, but something needs to change.  Nobody has all of the answers right now, but we need to be bold enough to take that first step and recognize the problem.

Another thing that we talked about when it comes to the criminal justice system was the militarization of police.  For the record I had no clue what this even was, let alone that it is happening today in 2015!  Police militarization is the idea that US police forces have been gradually transforming into a modern army.  Cops are being armed with dangerous and unnecessary weapons.  I think this should stop immediately. Police do not need these kinds of weapons and they certainly don't need the suspicion surrounding them.  Their purpose has been corrupted and I think I have an idea as to why.  Protection.  People are always arguing that they weapons to protect themselves. The question is where do you draw the line between protection and threat?  Are all the weapons the police have really to protect us or are they starting to cross that line?  I feel as though right now I am being threatened, but I suppose that's how they want you to feel. If you are scared then you are less likely to commit a crime and therefore makes the number of criminals reduce, however,  I feel that they have taken this so far that it is beginning to become the opposite.  The police force is the one that is flawed not the citizens who are "potential threats" to the community.

Another topic that we discussed was cultural appropriation or the idea of taking another's cultural and integrating it with your own.  This was a topic that I disagreed with the rest of the class on.  For the most part people in class saw it as rude, disrespectful, and racist, but I saw it in exactly the opposite way.  I love the idea of learning about others cultures along with cultural mixing.  I think it teaches us to love other people no matter what their differences are and respect others points of view.  After all we all are children of this world and of our own environment.  It doesn't matter if you are black or white or Indian.  I don't care if you worship God or Allah or no one at all!  You may live in China or Canada or France, but we are all human beings and that's what brings us closer together.  We all share the same history and by wearing a symbol of your religion just shows that I understand that.

Every single person on this earth is made up of the same stuff.  Every single person on this earth has been through hard times and everyone has had regrets.  Coming to this realization is what we have been trying to do all semester.  We need to start looking at ourselves as a species not as an individual race. I feel as though I am a child of all cultures.  I may not have been born into all cultures, but I can most definitely relate to the people who have.   I can relate this to the large number of people that started coming into the US during immigration in the 1900s.  There were people from all over the world moving here. Italians were bring there traditions while the Germans were bring their own and so on and so forth for a whole number of cultures.  All these cultures mixed together and you got the US!  It made this country so much more colorful and supporting other people by acting or dressing like them to celebrate their hardships and journeys along with your own is the best thing that could happen in my mind.  People need to realize that we all in this together and that if we don't get along there won't be an us for much longer.  Racism is countering our forward steps to equality and the only way to survive as a SPECIES is by working together and accepting one another.