Coming to a Close

Looking back, as far away and distant as it may seem, the beginning of online writing for me really isn’t far from where I am now in my writing career. No, I haven’t made a big impression on society, and I haven’t become a distinguished writer, but I’ve never felt a bigger growth or improvement in my writing. After this year’s task of blogs and timed writing assignments, essays and projects, I’ve never been so stretched or exhausted with writing, and with that, never felt so encouraged or confident in what I write and produce.  With the help of my teacher and fellow writing students, I know that I have been challenged and critiqued in my skills enough to see a real change in how I think and approach writing.

One of my goals at the beginning of this “journey” was to always remain true to myself and my beliefs in the writing I made public to the world, and the ideas and conclusions I made surrounding issues both big and small. I wanted to build and strengthen my beliefs, rather than conform to popular opinion or suppress my ideas as I made them public, and I’m happy to say I think I accomplished this goal.  I can safely say that throughout this journey and experience, I have been able to develop my ideas and beliefs through writing out exactly how I feel, knowing it was genuine.  I didn’t just spit back out the opinion the world told me to have, and I didn’t lessen my real opinions in order to please popular opinion.  My writing and ideas developed, and if I hadn’t been forced to complete blog prompts or in-class writing assignments, I definitely wouldn’t feel confident in stating that.

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
– Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver perfectly captured what I wanted to achieve, and although it takes a lifetime to be able to accomplish this, I definitely was able to stick to this throughout the year.

I now enjoy writing, reading and admire good writing, and appreciate the time and work authors put into the hard task of expressing themselves through words.  I’ve always thought that excellent writing was easy to achieve for some, but I now know that even naturally-gifted writers have to work extremely hard and practice continually to be able to produce at the level of excellence they do.

This experience, this English class, and the habits I have acquired have definitely prepared me for future writing and opened my eyes to the hard and satisfying task of writing well.

 

Enriched or Corroded Lives

entertainmentEveryone is exposed to some form of entertainment through the media they are presented with. Whether it be through music, games, performance, or reading.  Anything that brings us joy and delight in observing or filling our minds with, that distracts us from the monotonous trials of our everyday lives, we can consider an entertainment.

Now the question is raised as to whether this seemingly innocent entertainment has negative effects on our lives, or is a positive influence that only adds to our quality of life.  What impact does entertainment really have on our minds or the decisions we make? Do we gain benefits or accumulate disadvantages?

People can argue that entertainment benefits our lifestyles and minds through the access we are able to have to facts, news, and previously unattainable resources.  That we are able to grow our minds and hold a new found knowledge and even cultural influences that connect us to the world around us.  However, as we evolve and hold media and entertainments not as luxuries but as necessities, we have lost sight of priorities and have developed a lifestyle solely dependent on having entertainment.

“How will I survive this week without the next episode of my favorite show airing?”

“I should be studying for my test, but football is on and I have to make sure my team wins.”

We have come to a day and age where entertainment isn’t just a side enjoyment from our daily lives, but a prominent role in what we spend our time consuming, even what we choose to take the main role in our lives, over things we really should be concerned with.  It has begun to detract from our lives, as a parasite deposits itself in a host.  We unconsciously let in something that slowly turns our lives into a dependent, we host something that slowly grows and evolves into a major burden, and something that is hard to decrease.

The chart below shows a 2015 survey of what specific items of entertainment people pay for, or the major pieces of entertainment are prevalent in people’s lives.  It’s not just about gaining information and reaching global communities and ideas, it’s media that tends to detract from what we should be filling our lives with. The chart puts a realistic perspective of what entertainment has come to mean.

chart

We shouldn’t have such statistics for our lives. With TV shows at the top of our priorities, and newspapers at the bottom, are we not only losing contact with world issues around us and paying more attention to made up realities— allowing them to influence us more than the current events or real-life changes? We have become completely dependent on the voice of entertainment in our lives, taking certain stances and values from what we see on a screen or blast through our ears.

Entertainment, while absolutely enriching to our lives to some degree, has begun to have the opposite effect.  It holds a greater influence than almost anything else does in our lives at this point, what we should expect from ourselves, from others, from the world.  It skews our perception of how our lives should be, and the goals and aspirations we should be striving for.  Yes entertainment can fulfill and add many positive additions to our lives, but in our lives now it has evolved to something much more than that.

This is my personal opinion on the subject, however how do you believe entertainment has impacted our lives? Is it enriching or corrosive?

 

 

The World We Live In

smoke

Numbers 35:33-34 “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.”

How many times a day do we stop and consider the care we give to the world around us. Not to the people, not the animals even, but the sky, the air, the climate?

Life on earth is precious, and should be maintained, however in recent studies, scientists expose the facts of a climate change, and what it means for the future of our planet.  In looking at this controversy, there are two evenly argued sides, however it is our responsibility to discern exactly what these facts presented mean to us.  What is our plan of action?

“Temperatures on earth have increased approximately 1.4°F since the early 20th century.  Over this time period, atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) have notably increased” (US Environmental Protection Agency).  This statement regardless of what side people choose to support, can be validated by scientists on both sides.

Temperatures are rising and the pro side of the argument holds the stance it is human life’s responsibility. They believe because of this, levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases are a direct result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels, and that they cause significant and increasingly severe climate changes including global warming, loss of sea ice, sea level rise, stronger storms, and more droughts. They contend that immediate international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to prevent harsh climate changes.

the opposing viewpoint however, believes that temperature rising/ climate change is not entirely due to any human action.  They believe human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are too small to substantially change the earth’s climate and that the planet is capable of absorbing those increases. They also believe that warming over the 20th century resulted primarily from natural processes such as fluctuations in the sun’s heat and ocean currents. They say the theory of human-caused global climate change is based on questionable measurements, faulty climate models, and misleading science.

So which is the correct response? Which is the correct side for us as society to take?

Psalm 24:1 “A Psalm of David. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

We are resting in a place created by God and for God.  It is our responsibility to take care of it, and regardless of recent science proofs or data, if the earth even has a slight chance of being hurt by the greenhouse gases we create, it is our responsibility to limit their production.  It is as if there is a question of if eating apples gave you cancer, wouldn’t you rather just limit the consumption of apples then fully lean from one side to the other? Science is an every changing, evolving, not always fully validated study, and because of the uncertainty as to what exactly causes climate change at this point in time, we cannot for sure really know.  It is up to us to maintain the world God has placed us in. We are the caregivers, and regardless of what data is produced in the future, we should limit the amount of potential harm we are bringing to the environment with the emission of greenhouse gases.

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Poor Judgement

Girl Peeking Over the Counter --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

A little boy and his older brother sit at the kitchen table.  On the table rests a cookie jar, that like the apple in the garden, is cautioned from touch or taste.  The older brother, holding far more malicious wisdom and persuasion than the younger, and fully understanding the wrath their mother will bring, begins to coax the little boy to take from the jar first.  He coolly explains that the boy will remain unharmed and suffer no consequences if the plan is carried out without suspicion.  The older brother sets everything into play, he convinces the younger, directs the actions that will take place, and uses nothing but his words to see the plan carried out.  The little boy, listening to his brother’s direction, follows the plan, opens the jar, and takes hold of a cookie.  The mother opens the kitchen door returning home from her habitual shopping run.  The little boy is doomed, and the older brother is merely rebuked for allowing it to happen.  Who’s fault is it that the little boy was caught holding the cookie, the boy or his older brother?

In analyzing the Shakespearean play Othello, and who is responsible for the end result, I’ve always pictured this scenario of the cookie jar in deciding who was responsible.  The older brother as Iago, and the little boy as Othello, parallels and points to the same overarching question –who was responsible in the end? Was it Iago behind all the schemes, the voice that brought action, or was it the hand of Othello following those schemes and trusting in the falsehoods that created the tragic ending?

As the play unfolded, although Iago manipulated everyone around him to create havoc, sending Roderigo unaware to kill Cassio, deceiving Othello of his wife’s assumed adultery, was he really the reason for the end result: the death of Othello and his wife?

None of the persuasive words would have amounted to anything, if Othello hadn’t taken action on them.  Iago’s claims of Cassio’s and Desdemona’s affair would have been nonexistent, if Othello searched for the truth before taking action in a fury.  If the little boy never listened or heeded to what the older brother had to say, he never would have been caught red-handed or suffered the consequences.  If Othello had only tried to find find the truth, reason, and solid discussion of the accusations made, he would have found them to be false, and as a result would not have lashed out in fury.  Yes Iago’s diabolical plans spurred on the action throughout the play, however taking into consideration that the schemes remained a medium throughout, it solely rests on how Othello reacted to them.

What if the boy chose to ignore his older brother’s coaxing? What if the boy instead went and asked the mother if he could take a cookie from the jar?

Ultimately I believe Othello brought the tragic ending upon himself, without his actions he and his wife would both have lived, but because of his hasty actions, he brought about his own undoing  He listened to the falsehoods around him, and took his opportunity, and just like the little boy caught with his hand in the jar, Othello suffered the consequences of poor judgement.

To read and reference the play, and make your own conclusions as to who is responsible for the tragic end, click the link below.

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Abort the Fallacies

abortion

As we look into what the media throws at us, what they chose to display and advertise to the world, it’s important to realize that they are writing with a purpose, just like the rest of us writers in the world.  We all write to accomplish something, express something to our audience, and hopefully convince the audience of a certain claim or belief.

We acknowledge this in many areas of literature, however we rarely notice the persuasive and usually biased information playing on the morning news, through the radio talk shows, in the newspapers, and the online articles.  It all is created with the purpose of convincing, and the fallacies or flaws in reasoning, often slip us by. We step in to the car lot, unaware the car dealers don’t have our best interests in mind.  They want to sell a car, they don’t want to mention that the cars are overpriced, that they are cheaper at the other dealership, that they will break down usually in the first 2 years, or that you will lose value of the car instantly after purchasing.  They want to make a deal, they want to take your assets, and use them for their profit.  It’s a slide of hand.  You aren’t aware that the trick is being done right in front of your eyes, until you’ve been won over, and it’s too late.  We take it all in, believe it as truth, we ignore the details and accept what is given to us as truth.

In looking at the discussions surrounding abortion, as one of the most controversial topics in society today, I was not only reminded to be wary of the possible fallacies thrown into the arguments, but was able to diagnose their statements to not always hold truth.

Fox News, a Republican news service, CNN a Democratic news service, they each offer up the same information, but decide to relay it in a way that best benefits their party or the influence they had on their diverse audience.  They are each car dealers, and although it is often forgotten, they hold many flaws in reasoning we overlook in trying to sell their product.

Abortion Rights at Stake in 2016, written by Nancy Pelosi and Cecile Richards, although a perfectly accredited and reliable source of information on abortion in 2016, does hold falsehoods and generalizations not to be muddled with cold hard facts.

The news article begins, with an editor’s note:

“Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.”

This note, as we will see later on, is the crucial piece of evidence for the article’s fallacy of appeal to authority.  Appeal to authority refers to a source saying that because an authority figure thinks something, it must therefore be true.  The article exemplifies this false reasoning, as it further develops claims, opinions, and inferences solely backed up by the authority of the authors and the credentials they hold.

“The Republican leadership in Congress, along with every one of their presidential candidates, opposes women’s right to safe, legal abortion. Yet, the majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, support access to safe, legal abortion.”

Not only does the article express claims such as the excerpt above provides, but it fails to show any sort of statistic or data to back up the claims.  It solely relies on the authoritative credibility of the authors mentioned, to persuade and presents nothing further.

We read these articles, accept these claims, and most of us assume the validity of the article, without further analyzing if the claims are verified.

Stop listening to the car dealers of the media and overlooking fallacies, be wise with what you put your trust in, as carefully as investing your money in a car.  Abort the tendencies to validate information, and begin to rest your beliefs in only certified information as well as making sure you also don’t fall into the temptation of using false logic.

(To reference the article click to read more)

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/22/opinions/pelosi-roe-wade-abortion-women/

Pelosi, Nancy, and Cecile Richards. “Abortion Rights Threatened in 2016 (Opinion).” CNN. Cable News Network, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Striving for Excellence

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As the green light of my alarm clock switches to read 2:03 am, i begin to question my credibility on writing of sleep and rest. I wonder how I will remain reliable in expressing the importance of sleep and peace, when I myself struggle to maintain such a consideration for it.

However, regardless of my shortcomings, and obvious struggle with this issue myself, I think writing this will not only inform you of the sincere importance of rest while striving for excellence, but will serve as a reminder to me of something I most desperately need to understand and change.

In the world we live in today the main idol individuals cling to, is excellence and the continuous climb toward excellence in areas in our lives.  Working towards being the greatest football player in the world, becoming the world’s most talented and flexible ballerina, receiving the most perfect marks on school exams, or simply working towards being the most high point of excellence in any one area.  We honor, respect, and admire these dreams, and fully credit individuals who do whatever it takes to reach this high performance, abnormal, idealistic lifestyle.  However, how often do we stop for a reality check, or contemplate how beneficial this lifestyle really is?

Yes dreams are good.  Yes it is good to push yourself to your full potential, and yes excellence isn’t something to be put down or thrown out, but there are many other factors to consider before striving above all else for perfection.

there is an Aesop’s fable that tells about how attempting too much, or trying to grasp everything at once, can really just lead to failure.

The Boy and the Filberts

“A BOY put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him, ‘Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand.'”

“Do not attempt too much at once.”

As the fable does a clear job of showing, striving for complete perfection and reaching as far as we possibly can go, isn’t always the best way of reaching our goals.  Sometimes, regardless of how hard we think we need to push ourselves, we really need to take into account all the other factors that lead to our success.

Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

In this we can also see the importance of rest in our lives to reach our full potential.  Yes success requires hard work- but that is not all it requires.  It also needs rest. It needs peace and sleep and time to recover and rejuvenate our minds.  Without this period of time set aside, we run ourselves into the ground, wearing down our minds and bodies, and eventually tearing away from our effectiveness at completing even simple tasks.

Regardless of how much good we think we are doing staying up all through the night and getting up at the break of dawn, really we will be to our greatest potential if we take the time to rest after working so hard.  We all want to aspire to excellence and strive for being the absolute best, but if it comes without time to rest, it can’t be the healthiest or most beneficial route.

N.a. "AesopFables.com - The Boy and the Filberts - General Fable Collection." 
AesopFables.com - The Boy and the Filberts - General Fable Collection.
N.p., 26 Oct. 2007. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.

Résumés

coffeeRésumés.  Those tricky, competitive, weighted pieces of paper holding the power to get you an interview for a job or leave you sifting through the yellow pages.  Résumés are the final report, the list of every noteworthy credential and achievement that would be necessary for, or improve your chances of looking valued as a future employee.

However, with so much power in deciding your fate, it’s crucial to know and understand how to maintain a well-executed, well-organized, and well-argued résumé.  After researching the do’s and dont’s of an effective résumé, although I’ve never written one I hope to be able to add to your understanding of résumés and how important being thorough in them is.

Here’s a list of all of the most important keys to writing an effective résumé that I found when researching.

  • Because research has revealed employers only skim the résumé for 10 seconds when going over it in an interview, make sure to be clear, concise, and only provide the most noteworthy information.
  • Have more than one.  Just as companies design different advertisements to market the same product to different consumers, you may have 3 or 4 résumés.  Depending on the job, and the majors required, it is often best to have more than one, each emphasizing specific expertise on different experiences/ expertise required for the job.
  • Focus your résumé by carefully reading the want ad or job description as it may require certain things or highlight needed skills that would be advised to include in your credentials.
  • Include your full name, address, telephone number with area code or email address.
  • Provide a clear objective statement describing the job you are applying for.  Make sure to be clear and concise as broad objectives make applicants appear indecisive or desperate aren’t wise.  Be specific.
  • Use a short summary statement to encompass key elements on your background- ones worth noting and ones you think were increase your value in the eyes of your employer.
  • Don’t compile a list of every job you have had or a description of your ultimate goal in life- present facts and accomplishments relevant to a specific position.
  • Arrange your education and experiences chronologically, starting with the most recent and notable. List the significant courses you’ve taken, awards, grade point averages, and honors as it will impress your employer and give you authority in your field.
  • Stand out.  Stress your individual accomplishments- the things that set you apart from all the other potential candidates waiting in line for an interview.  This however doesn’t just have to be credentials and experiences, but can be a mention of volunteer work, hobbies, or activities

Although following a few of this guidelines doesn’t guarantee your success in attaining an interview or job, they do increase your chances of being valued and holding authority in expressing your qualification for a job.