Social Responsibility

~ “We are all prisoners of hope.” (Naomi Tutu) ~

       I bet if you were to look at today’s newspaper, there would be at least one article about an accident, disaster, or crime. The reality is that there is tragedy around us everyday, but not everyone is aware that they can help.

      I did a Google search of songs titled “Save the World”, interested to see if there was anything about how to do just that. Many artists came up, and below I have chosen my favourites. But after reading the lyrics to each one, it becomes evident that every person’s view of saving the world is different.

      The song and video based on George Harrison‘s lyrics is about blaming the world’s state on certain people. CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO. He feels keeping the millionaires employed and fighting for world domination are not the problems that need to be solved. The song by Yolanda Adams is about one type of problem in the world- hunger resulting from poverty. To her, saving the world is about starting with the children and lending a helping hand.

      My view of saving other people is more along the lines as the lyrics from the song by Bon Jovi. The entire song is about love, but the beginning is very important. It is about how you don’t need a degree or high societal ranking to make a difference in the world. This relates to a problem I found in the article “The Next Generation”. This is from a magazine, and it is about the descendants of famous people coming together to change to world. They are almost creating a new United Nations among the eight of them. This is an amazing thing for the next generation of the peacekeeping idols to do, because they already have the fame. It will be easy for them to gain awareness for the causes they will be supporting and changes they will be making in the world. But it isn’t just up to the famous actors like Angelina Jolie or  powerful politicians to create change. Ordinary people like you and me can make a difference.

      Even the simple fundraisers we do in school through the SRC is helping to change the world. Raising money for important causes or to support research is one way of giving back to the community and country. However, it doesn’t always have to be about money. People need to realize that volunteering their time, or even just showing they are aware of the issues, is a major contribution.

     

     

April 7: Doubting Yourself~

      ~ “To be once in doubt Is once to be resolved.” (William Shakespeare) ~

      It is safe to say that everyone doubts. You may doubt the weather forecast is right, you could doubt that you will win the lottery, or you may doubt that class will start on time. But not everyone has doubts about themselves. I think doubting yourself is a very pessimistic thing, and I always try to be optimistic.

     Doubting yourself shows a weakness in your self esteem. I think is starts out as being afraid, perhaps to try something new, or to have failed at some task. The problem is, doubt grows. It may start out as being a small insecurity, but eventually it starts to dictate your life. Every small failure adds to that doubt, and I feel eventually that could weigh a person down. Self doubt is like the force of gravity, pulling you down and making you feel smaller, insignificant.

     So far, I have only mentioned that doubt is a bad thing. But for those who are optimistic, like me, can turn doubt into a motivator. I know that if I doubt myself, I push myself harder to do something to prove to myself I can do it. I never expect a positive outcome, but just knowing that I tried makes the doubt go away. Also, doubting that I can do something makes me find other ways to go about a problem. It forces me to think outside the box, never letting doubt control my abilities to complete a task.

      Below is a video about doubting yourself, and how it is okay every once in awhile. It is alright to be scared, to not know what to do, and to not feel like you’re worth it. Basically, the artists feel that everyone feels that way at one point in their life, so you are not alone.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO

      I believe doubting yourself comes down to believing in yourself. As Suzie McNeil says in one of her songs, “If you just believe/You can move mountains with dreams/The higher you climb/The better it gets/Cuz you will see things/You’ll never forget/If you just believe.” For the rest of the lyrics, follow this link.

March 31: Hamlet~

~ “All the world’s a stage,/And all the men and women merely players;/They have their exits and their entrances,/And one man in his time plays many parts,/His acts being seven ages.” (William Shakespeare) ~ 

      There is a major difference between sympathy and empathy. There is a major difference between comprehending and connecting. So if you were to ask me, “How do you feel about Hamlet and the situation he is in?” I would answer, “I sympathize and can comprehend what position he is in.” We have only read a portion of the play so far, but already Hamlet is in a bit of a mess. His dad was dead at the beginning, and so Hamlet came home to mourn for him and claim the crown, only to find his mother married to his uncle and Denmark in a party state. Then, to add to his troubles, he sees the ghost of his father, who claims he was murdered by his brother. Not knowing whether to trust the ghost, and not being able to trust his former friends or girlfriend, Hamlet is awfully alone. With the exception of Horatio, Hamlet has no one to turn to, not even his own mother. This is enough to make anyone depressed or go mad- this I can sympathize with, As for empathy, I have no idea what it would be like to be in Hamlet’s shoes.

       If I were placed in Hamlet’s position, of course I would doubt what the ghost was telling me and asking me to do. I would be suspicious, because back then going to heaven or hell after death was a huge issue, and murder would cause someone to go to hell. So, why would my father, someone who has guided me my whole life and encouraged me to make positive decisions, pave for me the way to hell? And of course, the ghost is assuming the physical appearance of my father, so how could I deny him of my service? It seems to me like the ghost is the first thing that happens to Hamlet that makes rest of the play into a tragedy. So if I were Hamlet, I would consider long and hard about what the ghost is asking of him to decide what action is appropriate. In my opinion, Hamlet has done this- it isn’t quite procrastination.

       Although I do not have an understanding of the meaning behind Hamlet’s thoughts and actions, I do appreciate his words written through Shakespeare. A monologue I particularly enjoyed is where the famous “To be or not to be” quote comes from. In the video below, I recited his words.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

March 17: Procrastination~

 ~ “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.” (Anonymous) ~

      How does procrastination affect your fate? Well, I believe the only thing affecting your fate is the decisions you make, and those around you who influence your decisions. And, because there are many different decisions made in a single day, one’s fate can never be certain. The only exception I think falls into that statement is procrastination. This is the decision, or some may consider it to be a lack of making a decision, to not do something or to put it off. The reason I think procrastination is an exception to being able to predict one’s fate, is because it shows the kind of person you are. If you are someone who procrastinates everything until the last possible minute, you are likely to fall behind in life and fail at accomplishing any sort of goal or dream you have set before yourself. The problem is, procrastination is like a disease, it becomes easier to turn to… and sometimes the last possible moment is no longer available.

      Of course, there are different severity’s of this “disease”, procrastination. Things can be put off in anything you do in a day- finishing an assignment, making supper, having a shower, reading a book, calling your friends… you get the idea. Most of these every day tasks seem pretty simple and meaningless. But, if procrastination becomes a habit, it starts to affect more important decisions, such as finding a dress for grad, studying for an important final, renewing a license, etc. Sometimes things in life start to pile up, and due dates get pushed farther away. I am definitely guilty of doing this! It’s easy to think to myself, “I still have a long time to go,” or, “I’ll do some of it this weekend.” I find myself putting off finishing my Calculus assignments, because it comes secondary to my other school homework and extra curricular activities. Just recently I realized I don’t have very much time to finish it if I want to be done by the time I’m out of high school! For this subject, procrastination has definitely hurt me. I will be struggling to get everything in at the end of the school year, when I should have been doing little bits and pieces throughout this last semester.

      Procrastination is also a favourite for writers to use when making scripts for movies or for writing books. Of course, for there to be anything interesting in a film or novel, one or more of the characters must be faced with a difficult decision. Most of the time, this character puts off making that hard choice until the last possible minute. By doing this, writers create suspense and more conflict. In the clip below, of a portion of an episode of Friends, Phoebe has to make a choice between her ex-boyfriend, David, and her new boyfriend, Mike. Instead of telling one of them that she can no longer see him, she decides to try and date both of them at the same time. This clip is not long enough, but Mike ends up catching her with David, creating a bigger problem than what she started with. This age old “date two guys at once without having to pick between the two” is a type of procrastination that has shown up in countless movies and stories.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

       There are a lot of different types of procrastination that can affect your fate. I recognize at least two within my own life. One is putting things off by coming up with excuses of other things to do. For example, instead of working on writing a blog, I would search youtube for a cool video, then maybe decide I was hungry and make myself something to eat, then realize I have something else to do, then find a mess to clean up, and finally realize I don’t have any more time that day to work on anything else. Another type of procrastination I do is over-thinking something. For example, if I have to call someone that I find awkward to talk to, I will go over ways in my head to initiate the conversation. Then I will try to come up with topics I have to cover within my talk, manipulating them so that they run in a sequence. Then I might decide to memorize all the things I want to say, so I don’t have to use a sheet. I will find a million things to do to prepare for the phone call, but I will never actually initiate the action.

      An interesting thought is how procrastination might not be such a bad thing. It could affect your fate in a positive way. Confused? Read more about it by following this link!

      Below is a great video of some more types of procrastination. I liked watching how each picture melted into the next picture, and then next one after that. It is also interesting how the tone of the person’s voice changes with each sentence. I especially enjoyed how he ended the video, because it fit with the topic.

    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

      I’m sure everyone has procrastinated at one point in their life, but I know I haven’t really thought about how that affects my life. The truth is, every decision, small or large, has a different outcome on your future. I remember Mr. Burnett talking about a theory that there are infinite alternate universes out there that show the different outcomes of your life. Say, for example, you decide to skip breakfast tomorrow. There would be an alternate universe where you actually chose to eat cereal, another where you made toast, etc. This means there would be millions of different universes of yourself created within just a span of a minute of your life! Hopefully this puts making good decisions and not putting them off into perspective. Procrastination, as well as any other choice you make in life can create a tidal wave of change on your future.

       

March 10: Human Relationships~

      ~ “Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement… all success… all achievement in real life grows.” (Ben Stein) ~

       Human relationships are predictable in the sense that everyone needs to feel comfort. However, a person is capable of loving more than one person, and loving one person in more than one way. This is because there are different types of love a person can feel: self love, family love, passionate love, friendship love, marital love, adulterous love, love of nature, love of possessions, and many more types of love. All can be either positive or negative, giving a wide range of relationships that can exist. Love grows and can be felt for all living and non living things.

      Love and relationships is a major theme in literature, especially in poetry. If human relationships were predictable, all poetry would begin to get repetitive and boring. But actually, poetry is insightful and interesting because of the wide range of emotions expressed. Even just by listening to the radio, it is evident that all human relationships are different. True, most go through similar problems such as jealousy, but most experience highs as well. Songs are just poems set to music. 

      This is one of my dances with a group of other students. One is missing, so some of the formations are a little off. And, as you will see, I am pretty much awesome at setting up a tri-pod, so that explains why the edges are cutting off some of the dancers…

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

(I will be re-doing this video of the dance when we have our dress-rehearsal, but as this assignment is due on Friday, this will have to do for now.)

      The reason I decided to include this dance was because of the song it is put to. It is called “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis. The message of the song fits in with the topic human relationships because it is about a relationship between two people. Leona talks about how she used to close herself off from love because it was too painful, but then she found someone who is trying to change what she thought about love. The relationship is toying with her heart, and she describes it like this: “My heart’s crippled by the vein/That I keep on closing/You cut me open and I/Keep bleeding/ keep, keep bleeding love.” I think this is a powerful song that describes how hard it is to totally close yourself off from other human beings, because love flows all around you constantly. It is too difficult to ignore the relationships you have with other people, because they are types of connections that can never be broken. 

     Check out this site, about things you should include in any type of relationship.

March 3: Environment Influences Identity~

 ~ “The rainstorm and the river are my brothers/ The heron and the otter are my friends/ And we are all connected to each other/ In a circle, in a hoop that never ends” (Pocahontas) ~

Your environment is more

tshirt1

than the landscapes around you . . .

Landscape

  It is the province you live in . . .

saskatchewan 

the country you are patriotic towards . . .

america

the house you grew up in . . .

house 

the hobbies that become a part of your life . . .

dance

the teammates in sports . . .

team 

the job where you earn money . . .

lifeguards

the school you go to . . .  

School

the times you have stood up in front of a crowd . . .

Speech 

   It is all of these things, and more, combined, that influence your identity.

        Even after debating the topic of whether environment or genetics influences identity the most, I still believe environment has the most significant influence on the person you become. The debate itself was pretty good, and the points made for the “pro” and “con” side were fairly equal. I think if this debate were done a little later on in the year, after learning about genetics in Biology, my partner and I would have had a lot more trouble proving our side. This is because none of us realized that genes contribute to our physical appearance, mental and emotional state as well. Even so, it is still more important to explore those traits we are all born with within our surroundings. It is after many years of living that it becomes evident that your environment and the experiences that go with it shape the person you are.

      I recently had an interview with the Aquatics Director at the University of Saskatchewan to get a job for when I attend school in the fall. She asked a lot of questions about the things I enjoy doing and my past experiences, to get a better idea of the person I am, from what she couldn’t gather from the things on my resume. She was interested in the way I view the place I have grown up in, because it is the setting for all of my experiences. Not once did she say, “What genes did you inherit from your parents that contribute to the decisions you have made?”. That is too unrealistic. The information that is important about my life is the places and people that surround me, that have influenced me in significant ways.

      I remember a movie from my childhood that has the message of environment influencing the person you are. This clip from the movie, Pocahontas, shows the importance of being in tune with your surroundings rather than focusing on what you look like and how you act. It is the animals, people, and landscapes that help you develop your feelings and knowledge, not what you are born as.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/1cA9yJBslOU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

A person’s identity is not influenced by genetics, passed on from generations. . .

   family

It is Environment!

*Check out what my debate partner, Krysta thinks, as well as the “Pro-Genetics” students, Chantelle and Brennan *

February 25: Shooting an Elephant~

~ “I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible.” (George Orwell) ~

Below is an audio reading of the short story “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell. Take a few minutes and enjoy this story for your first, second, or third time!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12

      In the story, an English man living in Burma, Africa is put in charge of the people in that area. He hates repressing the Burmese people, because he believes they should be free from Britain’s reign. However, he is also frustrated with the Burmese people, because they do not see him for his intentions; they hate him because of what he represents. His identity is criticized, not his opinions, unlike somewhere like Canada. For this reason, I have no idea what it would be like to be in his situation. For the most part, people in Canada and other places around the world are treated as equals. We are only directed through our own government and its laws, and even these are subject to change based on society’s views. We are not forced to decide whether to be loyal to our country or sacrifice everything for our beliefs and values.

      During the course of the story, the British representative is put in a difficult situation, where he has to choose between shooting a “must” elephant or leaving it alone in the field of grass. This decision is not as simple as it seems, because choosing to shoot the elephant or not is actually a symbol for something else. The English man is standing in the field, armed, like the country he represents, and is placed in a situation he cannot control. The elephant, like the Burmese people, is in its own habitat, but is restricted by something more powerful. The elephant poses no threat to neither the English man nor the Burmese, yet is shot to prove to everyone Britain is strong, and their efforts to get ahead will not be forgotten.

       As of right now, I would not be able to make the same decision the English man did. He gave in to the crowd of Burmese people behind him and shot the elephant. He was determined to not look like a fool, and make Britain proud of his control over the situation. I hope I am never put in a situation where I have to choose between my country and my values, because I don’t think I would be strong enough to choose the latter. In my mind, I know that this is right- to stand up for myself and fight for what I believe in. But I fear I would never have the guts to do it, and would melt like the English man in the story did. I know it would be something I would think about for the rest of my life, wondering if I had made the right decision and feeling guilty if I hadn’t.

February 11: Qualities of Humans~

    ~ “Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.” (Jodie Foster) ~

      It is difficult trying to comprehend that all humans have common characteristics about them. Imagining that I am the same as a murderer, a vegetarian, a senior citizen, a high school drop out, a Nobel prize winner, and a human on the other side of the world is mind-boggling. But the reality is, that although every single person on the earth may have different values, appearances, and languages, every person has things about them that classify them as human beings. These things are the qualities we all have, that are independent of culture or beliefs.

       The reason people don’t realize we have certain qualities about us that make us human, is because some people don’t exhibit all of the same qualities. They are all present within us, its just that people either don’t have the opportunity to express them, or they choose to hide them. Qualities like patience, kindness, courage, jealousy, acceptance, honesty, dishonesty, respect, tolerance, shame, joy, frustration, anger, guilt, love, insecurity, and skill can all be found in regular day life. There are both positive and negative qualities that come across, but this is mostly influenced by situation.

       What’s more interesting, is that human qualities aren’t only discovered in your own life. It can be analyzed through fictional characters in movies, song lyrics, and literature. An amazing film I have seen, that is a great example of how when people change, different qualities become evident, is P.S. I Love You.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/cIhE0_mNdfQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Even in this short clip, you can see the emotions expressed by the main character, Holly Kennedy, and the situation she is put through. Pushed to move on by the letters her late husband left for her, Holly must rediscover herself and find happiness in her life once again. Throughout the show, Holly struggles with insecurity, shame, grief, love, patience, happiness, faith, courage, honesty, guilt, and finally, acceptance. And more importantly, even though Holly is an American, lives in a big city, and was married to an Irish man, it has no affect on the qualities she has as a human.

      A page-turning  novel I have read recently, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, also shows the qualities humans, and those who were once humans, possess. I don’t think I have ever felt as many different feelings within a time period of my own life, compared to what was expressed through the writing in this book. Struggling to be together, Bella, a mere human, and Edward, a vampire, send readers through a roller-coaster of emotion. Although both are completely different, like many people around the world during various periods of history, they both exhibit similar characteristics that exist because of their personalities and human instincts. It just shows that any two people can share emotions like jealousy, sadness, and excitement, as well as qualities like patience and acceptance, that make them human.

The Cullen Family

 Not familiar with this author or novel? Check it out and be prepared to be mesmerized!

February 4: Measuring Identity~

  ~ “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) ~


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      I measure my identity against the people who surround me everyday. My peers, teachers, parents, siblings, employers, and community members are all people I compare myself with; to find similarities within myself and them. It is easy to compare myself with the people I see everyday, because I have a pretty good understanding of what they go through, and what point they are at in their lives. At least with my friends, we have grown up in a relatively similar environment and have overcome challenges both together and apart, so I know that aspects of our identities can be compared and measured against each other.

      I think more often than this, though, I am looking at the differences between myself and others. Sometimes this is a beneficial thing, when I’m looking to improve my labels and the way others see me. For example, if I see my friends becoming more responsible and I see that I should become more responsible, I change to be more like them. In other cases, this can be a negative thing. When comparing myself against others, I see things within other people that I lack. At this point, it’s not really measuring your identity against others, it is comparing and adjusting to become more like everyone else. It is discovering what you’re not.

      A song that illustrates this point is “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin Degraw. He doesn’t want to become what everyone else is, or expects him to become, he just wants to be his own person. Measuring identity shouldn’t be about wondering what you have to do, or finding out what you’re supposed to be.

      It may sometimes be depressing comparing yourself with others and discovering what you are not, but it is necessary to grow. By observing people in the same environment as you, with the same culture and values, you can also find strengths within your identity. Your differences become what makes you unique.