Tag Archives: education

Dogs and Life

Today at the dog park my pup was injured.  He was slammed against a cement cylinder whilst running full-speed chasing one of his girlfriends.  I rushed him to the vet, who determined he either got a bad sprain or a slight tear in the dog equivalent of the ACL.

I’m ridiculously relieved that my pup didn’t fracture his hip or knee, and as he lays here next to me I’m grateful to have the resources and the heart to rush to him the vet for help.

With the stress and cost of the veterinary medicine I’m taught what a serious responsibility it is caring for another life.  This lesson is a harsh reality check but it’s made me more realistic and responsible in regards to serious matters of health and well being of others.    Without the experiences of caring for the many dogs, cats, rats, and sugar gliders that I’ve fostered at different times, I would not be nearly as conscientious of the emotional, physical, and financial commitments of being a caregiver.

I am a very maternal young woman.  I gain a unique satisfaction and love for the world when caring for animals or even people.  I believe many women get similar maternal urges when they get to their early or mid-twenties, and several women choose to get pregnant and start a family as a result.  I know a handful of women who have done just this, and that’s awesome for them.

Through the many experiences of taking animals to the vet, paying vet bills, dealing with dog-sitting, dealing with troublesome animals, worrying, feeding, loving all these creatures, I’ve learned the serious nature of being wholly responsible for another life.

For this reason, I’m waiting until I have money, education, and time to make human babies.  I want to have a child or two, but I understand how much of a commitment it can be.  If my kid has an attitude problem I can’t take him back to the pound.  If they get sick it’s horribly worrying and expensive, and we can’t just euthanize the poor bastards like many pet owners chose to do today.

I think it’s great that many women have found security enough to start a family, but I am not ready.

My heart pounded and I had to swallow tears because my pup injured his leg, and the vet put me out almost two hundred dollars.  If I didn’t have the money, or if I didn’t have a car or nerves, I would have been totally screwed.

It’s hard for me to imagine having a little darling baby, so fragile and precious, who may need health care right off the bat.  Not too mention clothes, diapers, education, food, housing…

Babies are no picnic!

I’m thankful to understand the seriousness of caring for another life and to have had so many wonderful animals to teach me this lesson.

I’m happy taking care of my doggie and taking him to the vet, and as a result I’m waiting quite a while to have a child.

Bernard, my love

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A little help goes a long way

Today I woke up, groggy and annoyed by that certain I don’t know what.  I had a HUGE list of things to do. Write a resume, read a billion pages, write three papers… fun stuff.  So, naturally, I sat on the couch and watched football.

The anxiety continued and I just felt “ugh”.

I finally plopped down with bad TV on in the background and began typing up a resume I’ll be needing for several endeavors in the coming weeks.

It was being a complete pain in the ass. Do I say this? Do I add this? Do I sound too vague here? Do I sound like an egotistical turd here? I had no idea what I was doing.  On top of that, getting the format just right had me so frustrated and mad I had to open the window to let the Autumn air cool my boiling blood.

Then, like a little answer from the spirits above, somebody came home and with only a smile and a bottle beer, turned my horrible mood around.

We sat on the couch and while he watched some silly action flick, I continued to type away, and as I encountered a roadblock and made disgruntled noises, my friend would say “Lemme see. Try this, or this… that looks good, change that…”

Slowly but surely, a beer, one glass of wine, and a couple slices of pizza later, my resume was complete.  And it wasn’t awful, in fact, it was pretty alright, and I feel fairly confident in applying to a program mentoring troubled youth tomorrow.

I know I could have done this myself, but the truth is that my friend helped me more than they know.

It’s wonderful how kind words of encouragement and couple helpful pointers can truly transform a daunting and unenjoyable task.

Thank you friend, I owe you one.  And if I get accepted to this program, I owe you a dozen.

It’s wild how one person, a couple kind words, a little help, and good company can really brighten someone’s day. How much it brightened mine.

Humans really are social creatures, imperfect creatures.  And sometimes it’s not wrong to ask for a little help sometimes.

My father has always told that people depend on each other, and it’s okay to ask for help.  You’re right Dad, I have to say, you won that one.

Tonight I would’ve ripped my hair out and cursed a bunch and killed a puppy (just kidding) if I hadn’t had a little help.  So many other nights too!

Whether it’s schoolwork I need help with from a professor, man-advice from my best girlfriend, life-advice from my parents, or spiritual advice from a dusty book on my shelf, it’s there to be lovingly used.

A little bit of help goes a long way, and I am so thankful to have these resources.

Thank You.

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A Thought on Columbus Day

Columbus Day is the twelfth of this month, and I thought the day would be a good occasion for some contemplation and awareness.

I went and saw The Canary Effect on campus this evening, a film about how Native Americans were effectively exterminated from the United States during and following colonialism, and how Native Americans continue a relentless struggle in a plethora of socioeconomic and political spheres.

The film was infuriating and impassioning.

I looked down at my shoes, I was wearing moccasins.  I’m sure these weren’t made by Indians at Pine Ridge, and I’m even more sure that Natives don’t benefit from my wearing the style of shoe they created.  I felt slightly sick to my stomach.  Was I aiding the subjugation of American Indians by wearing these shoes? Was I another ignorant American, exploiting these people for selfish reasons?

I took a deep breath.

I left feeling major white-girl guilt and anger, but at the same time, empowered and determined to make the world a better place.

After the film, I asked how I, a 23 year old middle-class college student, could ever create positive change for Native American populations without being condescending or ineffectual.  Another girl gave a good answer.

She suggested that we become aware. That as individuals we do research and get the facts.  That we seek to understand Native cultures and truly see the reasons for why so many of them are desperately troubled.

She also noted that we must become critical consumers.  We must question what we’ve been taught in our public school systems and be critical of the bias we encounter in our textbooks.  We can also stand up for the Native community, so that when someone says, “Oh, why give them[Native groups] any funding or aid? They have casinos so now they’re rich”.  We can then politely inform them that in fact, 90% of American Indians are in NO WAY affected by the gaming initiatives.

We can confront biases and ignorance in the media.  We can kindly remind each other the truth of what happened to the Native population, that by 1890, 98% of American Indians had been killed, and after that thousands of Native women were forcibly sterilized, and thousands of Native Children were ripped from their families and put into Christian boarding schools that sought to completely deconstruct their Native identity.

Today, natives are seven times more likely to commit suicide than the majority white population. Substance abuse is twice as prevalent on the reservation as it is for white communities.  American Indians face constant discrimination in the search for employment and sexual violence against Native women is at a terrible high.

So perhaps we should contemplate these facts and revaluate our prejudices and assumptions.  Perhaps we should be more conscientious of our words and thoughts.  Perhaps we should continue our personal education and re-examine the history of the United States.

I for one, rather than feeling guilty for wearing moccasins, will use them as a personal reminder of what happened to Native Americans. I will remember what has happened to their families, culture, and heritage, and remember the struggles communities face today.  I’ll challenge myself to be aware, and to stay educated about the past, the present, and on matters of the future.

Instead of feeling guilty, become informed.

(Facts derived from The Canary Effect, directed by Robin Davey and Yellow Thunder Woman)

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The Silencing of the Humanities in Our Education Systems

In my experience the arts and humanities are often seen as fun and interesting, however a dead end if one wants to earn a living and buy the newest gadgets and biggest homes.  We may absolutely love writing fiction and debating philosophy, but what in the world will we do with ourselves post-college if we don’t start a business or join corporate America’s zeal for materialism? After all, making money is the key to happiness and sustaining a healthy democracy, right?  Get a job and make money. Consume, vote for the prettiest politician, listen to your elders, obey the law, pay taxes, shop, and then shop some more.

As a society we’ve grown accustomed to this pattern and expectation.  We watch the news as if it were Divine information and command, without asking, what is really going on here?  What is the true situation over there in the Middle East or what does this politician REALLY stand for?

We take so much on faith because someone tells us it’s the truth.  Rarely do we engage in healthy, logical arguments and discussion over topics as important as war, the effects of consumerism, the accuracy of our historical texts, or the actual beliefs and practices of our foreign “enemy”.

We engage in “othering”, in seeing the person on the other side of the world as separate, as less human, as associated with disgust, alienation, and lower bodily functions.  Our authority figures tell us it’s this way or that, and just because they studied at Harvard or are grossly rich, we believe them and go on dehumanizing people different from us.

I’ve begun reading a book entitled Not For Profit, by Martha C. Nussbaum, which discusses the importance of a well-rounded education including not only technology and science (which are indeed very important) but one that involves creativity, imagination, constructive debate, arts, and writing.  Too often in the face of budget cuts and pressures to make more and more money, crucial aspects of a well-rounded education are being forgotten.

The arts and humanities foster individuality, critical thinking, discussion, and also involves the studying of different religions, cultures, and practices all over the world, teaching compassion and understanding.  With this compassion and critical thinking students learn to respect others rather than “othering” them, and are equipped with better skills to analyze political debate and think for them selves rather than take orders from an authority figure.

In a compassionate, kind, and Socratic learning environment, members of a society are taught to self-examine as well as challenge norms in day to day life.  Nussbaum explains how easy it is to fall into a subservient and sheepish mode of living, simply absorbing what is the supposed truth.  We see time and time again the dangers of blind following, as in the case of the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and even with such experiments as the Philip Zombardo prison experiment.

Technology and science are increasingly important facets of the education system, and with good reason.  However we must not forget the importance of creative innovation and the art of the argument.

We must constantly question authority, question what we see on TV, question what our professors tell us, question what we read, CHALLENGE what we think we know.  Foster debate within your self and within your community.  Question yourself when you stereotype, when you hear yourself  “othering” a person that is different from you.

Transcend the norm and rise above the obedient follower.

For further investigation:

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9112.html

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/06/hbc-90007141

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbcGbflpFzI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

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A loose introduction to my plan for this page…

Throughout my college career, I have delved into a plethora of different topics and issues concerning life around the globe.  From Islamic philosophy to narrative film, to the economics of crime and the relationship between illness and language, I’ve had a taste of just about every subject over the past four years.  And while I certainly feel enriched and decently well-read, I feel a certain component has been lacking to my education. Where is all the discussion?  The sharing of ideas, visions, and passionate declarations between my peers and I, or even the community at large, is almost entirely absent.  Most of my classes claim to be participation friendly where we are rewarded for speaking, however many comments or questions are lacking a sort of zeal or curiosity.  There are exceptions of course where students have spoken up and showed enthusiasm, however I regret to say that these instances are all too infrequent.  On a college campus of all places, aren’t students supposed to be getting fired up about serious issues? Should we not share our perspectives and ask meaningful questions?  Are we lacking mindfulness and passion regarding such important issues of war and food shortage?  Or are we just too intimidated, embarrassed, or indifferent to initiate a dialogue on topics that interest us?  Either way, I believe that our silent classrooms pose a threat not only to our education but the overall awareness and progress of our generation.  With all of the violence, war, famine, poverty, and corruption(the list is endless), I would have hoped to hear my friends and fellow students discuss these matters from time to time. If the classroom is not the right place to question the consequential state of affairs occurring across our planet, than what is?

I am not saying that students at my university are a bunch of moronic zombies by any means, however I do wish that my peers would speak up more often and engage a bit.  As a very passionate and curious individual, I yearn for discussion, as I love to hear different ideas and perspectives.  I want to know what others think! I want to hear how different people examine different issues.

One of my intentions for this blog is to hear what others have to say regarding topics I present here.  Some subjects may concern organic farming, bombing, socialism in contemporary society, or even questions regarding the quality of the education we believe we’re gaining from public university.  I want to discuss issues that we don’t always bring to light in our classrooms, but issues that are increasingly important for our generation to consider. I hope to present questions or topics that unearth them selves to me over the coming weeks and perhaps gain some feedback from my readers.  Feel free to read without commenting, but comments are more than welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope we can learn something from each other.

What do you think about this?  Are students more indifferent these days or are we just scared to speak up?

(ANY feedback appreciated. For example, if this is a terrible idea for a blog, PLEASE tell me so and I’ll switch it up).

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