Leathal Injection: Is it too cruel and unusual?

January 7, 2008

A wonderful article in the Washington Post caught my attention today: The Supreme Court is currently torn over whether lethal injections are a painful capital punishment procedure, thus violating the Constitution’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

This brings up a couple issues for me. In my Constitutional Law class we discussed whether the Supreme Court should be involved in questions of degree. As my professor was a very conservative man, he of course said no. Taking a step back and analyzing the question myself, I’d have to agree. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution and then determine whether a specific law is clearly and directly in opposition to it (check out Marbury v. Madison for Chief Justice Marshall’s eloquent opinion of what exactly judicial review is).

If my opinion is correct, what place to judges have in analyzing whether something is “too costly” or “too painful” or “too burdensome”? In order for the Supreme Court to determine whether lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment, scientific review and evidence would have to be presented to the Court so that the Justices could come to a decisions. Justices are in no way qualified to make a ruling on such matters; it is not in their expertise, nor was it ever meant to be. They are not doctors; they are judges.

As Justice Scalia so tenderly put it, “this is an execution, not surgery.” (High Court Divided Over Lethal Injection, Washington Post)

However, I must disagree with Justice Scalia’s opposition to a painless death for those convicted of murder and even the death penalty itself.

In 2006, the only known countries to utilize the death penalty were Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, the United States of America, Vietnam, and Yemen (Amnesty International), and 91% of those executions took place in SIX countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and the United States.

As a country that fosters democracy and has spent excessive amounts of money and man power on “saving” the barbaric government of underdeveloped countries, it is quite ironic (and rather hypocritical) that we find ourselves grouped with these very same countries for such an issue. This is a really well done diagram I got off Wikipedia as far as the distribution of the death penalty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Death_Penalty_World_Map.png

I just can’t see how murdering someone who murdered someone else somehow magically sets the world right again. Perhaps if I was the mother of a child who was raped and violently murdered, I would change my mind. However, at this point in my life, I cannot see the logic, and I know that I could not live with myself if I were responsible for the intentional murder of another human being. Yes, that person should be in prison for the rest of his or her life, but who are we to decide that that person’s life is no longer of value? And can you imagine the pain that is put on that person’s loved ones when they find out that their son, daughter, spouse, friend, etc. is to be put to death? Why must we punish more innocent lives? Why must we cause more people to suffer? What good does this do? What justice does this bring to the world?

Christians that promote the death penalty drive me the most insane. One of those messages that Jesus was always rambling about was letting God be the judge… i.e. How can you point out the splinter in your brothers eye when you do not see the low in your own? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc.

In conclusion… if we want to get rid of the death penalty, or perhaps just rectify any flaws with lethal injection, it is up to the people to bring their opinions to their representatives. We can’t depend on the Supreme Court to do all of this work for us.

Before you diss Islam, know your Christianity first… And quit generalizing, too.

January 1, 2008

While chatting with a friend the other day about religion, he cited this passage from the Quran: “Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate” (Quran 9:73) “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil: so fight ye against the friends of Satan” (Quran 4:76), and of course, he referenced suicide bombings.

 

 

The direct correlation between Islam and September 11, the assertions that all Muslims are America-haters and Christian-killers, that the religion teaches them to either convert non-believers or exterminate them… all of this I’ve heard time and time again, and all of it I roll my eyes at. The overt hypocrisy, the vast generalizations, and the sheer idiocy of these remarks are so easy to see, yet even easier to overlook.

 

 

The Christian Bible’s Old Testament repeatedly calls on those of faith to either convert or kill non-believers. For example, Deuteronomy 17 states, “17:2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant; 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; 17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”

 

Why can we point out passages in the Quran that call for extermination of infidels while we continue to ignore the very passages in the CHRISTIAN BIBLE that promote the exact same actions? What makes our “peaceful” Christian religion justified in its writings urging murder yet labels Islam a violent faith?

 

After reaching this point in the argument, I am usually reminded of the events of September 11; I’m told that terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in the name of their faith, and thus, any faith that promotes such a thing must surely be a hostile one. I’d like to direct anyone who chooses to utilize this argument back to the actions of our peaceful Christian brothers and sisters. Think of the Christians who have blown up abortion clinics or attacked doctors and nurses who work there in the name of Christianity. Is this not a similar concept? European countries in the 16 and 1700s colonized and enslaved the people of Africa and Asia in the name of Christianity, in the name of saving the savage people from their filthy sin filled lives. Their land and resources were exploited and their human dignity ravaged all disguised under a veil of Christianity’s greater good, of a mission to bring the Christian faith to those who were too stupid and too uncivilized to know it.

 

But no, it is the Muslims who are violent.

 

The men who bombed the World Trade Center were not Muslims at all. The faith strictly forbids alcohol consumption, loose sexual values, and gambling, yet the terrorists of 911 drank heavily, utilized the service of prostitutes, and visited casinos all the night before their act of terrorism was to be executed. Wouldn’t it seem that men who are thought to be killing American lives all in the name of Islam would be interested in rigidly following the basic rules of their faith?

 

“Oh yes, well the Quran states that those who die for their faith will be rewarded greatly in heaven.” I would like to guide you toward Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for a response to this argument. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake/ Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12). We honor martyrs and pray to saints, many of whom have died in the name of their Christian faith. We immortalize those who have died for the sake of Christianity… Sound familiar?

 

Of course, at this point I must add a disclaimer, although I know that there will still be someone who chooses to point this out: I am in no way saying that Islam is never used by evil people as a shield for evil deeds. However, we have to remember to separate the religion from the people. By this I mean, while the faith itself may say one this, someone else may interpret it to mean something else, something violent and hostile, and may act on it. This does not mean that that is what all Muslims believe!

 

Again, to Christianity… Some Christians believe that only through baptism can one be saved. Even if one has never heard of Jesus Christ, because that person has not been baptized and does not accept Christ as his or her savior (again, not by choice but because the belief in Christ has never been made known to that person), that person will go to hell. Not all Christians believe this. Not all Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin; not all Christians believe that the death penalty is bad; not all Christians believe evolution is real; not all Christians choose to wait to have sex until after marriage. This means that Christianity, like Islam, is not a uniform belief. Some people believe and do one thing while some people believe and do another. It is not just to generalize a whole people, an ENTIRE FAITH on the actions of the few or with regards to the events that we see on the news. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.

 

I really am becoming more and more disgusted with the hatred and bigotry toward Islam. Yes, there are bad Muslims out there, and Christians and Jews, and Hindus and atheists. We have to stop judging and entire faith on our shallow predispositions and skin-deep generalizations. We have to let go of our contempt and judgmental attitudes and stop being so childish and inane.

 

More senseless idealism and bleeding-heart liberalism from an untainted nineteen year old youth.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
MLK Jr.

 

Perhaps it’s not too late…

Some rambling till I post my next blog…

December 18, 2007

I haven’t written in quite some time… finals had consumed my life for a few weeks. But I’m back! I’m working on a more complex blog at the moment, although until I’m done, enjoy this appetizer:

While watching ESPN coverage of the Mitchell Report with my boyfriend, Bob, he mentioned something that I had never really thought of: Think of the millions of dollars funding dozens of scientists to find a way to detect HGH in humans… imagine if that was all directed toward cancer research.

Man. Good point, Bob.

While I was flipping through a weekly magazine that my sister receives in school, an article titled, “Smell This” caught my attention. The article was about posters advertising the new film, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. A new product developed by scientists from the company, Scientisphere, has allowed advertisements to be printed in scented ink. Advertisers have taken advantage of this development with the logic that scent is so closely tied to memory that ads using this new ink will have a leg-up in the consumer’s mind.

Again, how much funding was put into this product that could have possibly made a difference in Alzheimer’s, Cancer, or AIDS research?

I guess this is just some food for thought. Think of all the major product lines (Nike, iPod, Ford) that spend millions every quarter on advertising. Think of the gajillion, bazillion dollars being spent on a war in Iraq.

Now think of the quality of our VA hospitals.

I’m not even going to delve into issues like public housing, public schooling, national health care, etc. I doubt many can argue with finding a cure for cancer or treating our veterans to the treatment they deserve while in the hospital. I suppose this is more of an ethical question rather than a political one, but it’s becoming a rather tiring sight for me.

Our money has become so misguided and misdirected.  I just don’t understand how we can continue to be so selfish and so self-centered- so oblivious to pain and ignorant to suffering. What’s the solution? Is there a solution? Is this merely my bleeding heart idealism taking over my rationality? Has my young, untainted hopefulness rendered me completely unable to see reality?

I dunno. Criticism welcomed, encouraged.

Feminism, flawed.

October 26, 2007

It’s been a month since my last update, and so I decided that one was due. I apologize for keeping any of you in suspense; I hope the delay has not caused you any undue hardship.

While watching a very interesting documentary in my sociology class, something struck me as pretty neat. During the study that was being conducted, a rather attractive blonde woman in her mid-twenties made a ditzy remark and smirked coyly. The conductor of the experiment turned toward her and sharply scolded her- something along the lines of “Forget cute. You’re a woman. If you want to go anywhere, you need to be determined and serious. You need to be hard working and respectable. Forget cute, because when you’re 45, you’ll be an old broad with nothing left.”

It took every ounce of my strength to not stand up, cheer, and give a solid fist-pump.

I had never heard this idea articulated quite so well, and I mentioned the point to my professor as something I really took a liking to. My reason for enjoying this statement so much was the way I saw it relating to feminism. This woman seemed to hit the nail on the head: if women want equality, we have to earn it. We can’t depend on being cute, beautiful, or sexy to get ahead. We only further the stereotypes. Equality has to be gained by merit and hard work. My professor gave me a little rebuttal, stating that feminism is merely the search for equality between men and women. While I totally agree with this concept, I feel that, in a myriad of occasions, it is women who aid in bringing discrimination upon themselves.

I personally have never really felt discriminated against due to my sex, and maybe this is why feminists are so hard for me to buy into (Although I do recognize that I owe the fact that I do not feel discriminated against to feminists of earlier eras). I feel like feminism has reached its goal in all the legal equalities that can be achieved, but I believe it is up to women to do the rest to grasp and maintain social equality.

Women willingly do so much to put ourselves at the mercy of social inequality. Take for example the women in music videos; think of their dress, the way they move, and the way they dance. She becomes nothing more than sex objects at the beckon call of whatever pop star wants to have her next.

And she’s okay with that.

Think of reality shows; think of the way women act on these programs- their serious betrayal to the other women on the show, their publicly exposed sleeping around. In these ways and more, women foster and promote gender inequality.

Now don’t get me wrong… I love shoes. I love dresses, curling my hair, and painting my nails. I enjoy wearing make up and jewelry, but I will be damned if I am not going to be taken seriously. I work hard in school; I hold good jobs into which I put a lot of effort. I refuse to call my girl friends “bitch” as a term of endearment. I dress in a dignified manner when the occasion calls for such dress. I respect myself, and I respect other women.

I think this idea of women making sure to respect one another was well-put in the movie “Mean Girls” (go figure). While lecturing the girls in the school about their behaviors, Ms. Norbury says, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

If women want social equality, if we want to be seen as decent individuals, it is up to US to actively work for that change. We can’t go screaming and parading around on Capitol Hill, braless and refusing to shave. We can’t go to clubs wearing virtually nothing, dancing like strippers with any and every random guy that sticks his hand in our pants.

We can’t expect to to be treated in a dignified manner if we are not willing to treat ourselves and other women as such. We cannot expect to get a pay increase by running around, causing a ruckus while screaming at our congressmen. It’s not going to happen; don’t expect it to. We have to take matters into our own hands, and perhaps we can take some advice from our beloved Mahatma Gandhi:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (i.e. we can’t run around howling for change if we are  not going to exemplify characteristics that warrant it)

You said it, big G. You said it indeed.

Big Brother is Watching You

September 25, 2007

For those of you who don’t know, my favorite book of all time is 1984. I have read it five and a half times (I couldn’t finish it again this summer before coming to school), and I am just absolutely in love with it. The title of this entry comes from the book. This slogan is plastered on every sign throughout the country: Big Brother is Watching You.

The idea of being watched over by our higher government powers is something quite frightening, at least to me it is. History has shown us time and time again that dictators often take totalitarian control of a country because they are “doing what’s right for the citizens”. They are not scrutinizing the people’s every move for any personal gain, but for the good of the country. When citizens do not know how to make their own valid choices, the government steps in to lend them a hand. Often, this can begin in the most subtle ways.

I believe it was two days ago when CNN did a wonderful documentary titled, “America’s Killer Diet”. It opened with depicting a young, Jamaican boy who had gained weight exponentially since coming to the U.S. The story was heart-wrenching and very sad to watch. The documentary continued with showing the various ways in which America’s diet, to put it bluntly, murders us. The saturated and transitive fats, the calories, the carbs, the processed garbage- it destroys our health.

One of the big problems CNN touched on was the amount of Omega 6 oils consumed by U.S. citizens. Omega 6 oils are essential to our diets, but not in large quantities. They are found in the form of soybean oil, and over-consumption of these oils cancels out our consumption of very important Omega 3 oils, found in certain types of fish, almonds, avocados, etc. (As a side note, check the food labels on your next meal; you’ll be shocked to see how many things contain soybean oil).

Anyway, the documentary proceeded to interview various nutritionists, doctors, and lobbyists regarding the excess amounts of Omega 6 oils in everything we eat. One woman even went to far as to assert that the government should prohibit these oils from being so widely used, even suggesting banning them completely as a concern for public health. She then continued to say, “I guess that sounds something like a nanny state, but if that’s a nanny state… haha well then so be it.”

The gears in my head came to a screeching halt. WHAT?! “If that’s a nanny state then so be it,”?!?!?! I truly cannot believe how often people are so willing to let government creep so far into their lives. This woman told CNN, told the country, that she believes that it is okay for the government to dictate WHAT WE EAT. It is not as if America has stopped importing a certain kind of crop from another country because the country has been using toxic pesticides…No. This is completely different.

This woman has said, in so many words, that citizens cannot make their own healthy choices, so the government needs to make them for us. False. I am taken back to ever-enduring words of Benjamin Franklin who said, “Those who are willing to give up a little bit of freedom for a little bit of security deserve neither and will lose both.” You said it, Ben.

If you are willing to stuff your face with McDonald’s four times a week, please do not come crying to the Supreme Court that you are now morbidly obese. McDonald’s, along with other multi-million (multi-billion?) dollar fast food corporations are doing what they do to make a buck. Your own choice was to down a Big Mac instead of munching a carrot. Your prerogative was to grab the large fries as opposed to a yogurt. YOU PICKED the milk shake, the fried chicken, the cookies, the deep frying, the whatever. You chose it; you deal with it. I do not for one second believe in condemning the fast food industry for the obesity of the American people. So many individuals find the strength to say no; why can’t you? So many others find the energy to hit the gym a couple times a week; why can’t you?

If we tell the government, “Hey, it’s fine with us. Step in and dictate what we may eat; make us thin again through restriction on foods,” what kind of barrier have we taken down? How far will that allow the government to go until we’ve decided it’s gone “too far”? From that point, where do we draw the line?

To the mother of the Jamaican boy who was somewhere between 10-12 years old (I cannot remember)… suffering from high blood pressure, sky-rocketing cholesterol, and teetering on the border line of diabetes… Where were you through all of this? Why didn’t you ever say to your son, “You’re eating poorly. You’re gaining weight. You’re not exercising. You need to change your habits, or I’m going to change them for you,”? It was her job as a mother to take care of her son’s health, and I feel like she failed to do so. However, she is now able to blame it all on our country’s food products, get some time on a CNN documentary, and earn some extra cash for her and her son’s appearance.

God bless America.

Email forward reveals what thousands of years of philosophy could not!!!

September 17, 2007

So I’ve confided in a family member of mine (relation will be withheld for privacy) with some tensions I’ve been having with Catholicism and Christianity as of late. While I in no way am renouncing my faith or anything drastic, I’ve simply been contemplating anything and everything that I can.

In response, I received this email forward. I have done absolutely NO editing to what was sent to me. My personal comments are in blue:

KNOW THESE FACTS?
Death is certain but the Bible speaks about untimely death!
Make a personal reflection about this…..

Very interesting, read until the end…..
It is written in the Bible (Galatians 6:7):

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap.

Here are some men and women
who mocked God :


John Lennon (Singer):

Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said:

“Christianity will end, it will disappear.
I do not have to argue about
that. I am certain.
Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, Today we are more famous than Him” (1966).

Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.
Um, how long after Lennon said these things was he shot? Lennon died in 1980, fourteen years after this statement was made. What a valid conclusion the writer came to.


Tancredo Neves (President of Brazil ):

During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency.

Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died .

Isn’t Brazil considered a developing nation? Disease, sickness, etc. are not a rarity there. He also died over a month after becoming ill. Not one day.


Cazuza (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):

During A show in Canecio ( Rio de Janeiro ), while smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said: “God, that’s for you.”

He died at the age of 32 of AIDS in a horrible manner.

I do enjoy that the author made sure to include that this man was bi-sexual. So not only did he blow smoke up toward God, but he also lived a disgusting life of sin. Is there a “good manner” in which one would die from AIDS? Just wondering.


The man who built the Titanic

After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the Titanic would be.

With an ironic tone he said:
“Not even God can sink it”

The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic ..

Ah yes. To punish “the man who built the Titanic” God chose to kill 1,450 innocent people, just to teach him a lesson!


Marilyn Monroe (Actress)

She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show.
He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her.
After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said:
“I don’t need your Jesus”.

A week later, she was found dead in her apartment ..

The fact that Ms. Monroe had many affairs in the course of her life, all while being a giant sex symbol in American culture probably had nothing to do with the fact that she was murdered.

Bon Scott (Singer)
The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang:
“Don’t stop me, I’m going down all the way, down the highway to hell”.

On the 19th of February 1980 , Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

What a peculiar way for rock stars of the 70’s and 80’s to die: as a result of a drug and alcohol binge. Completely unheard of!

Campinas (IN 2005)
In Campinas , Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend…..
The mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car:

“My Daughter, Go With God And May He Protect You..”
She responded: “Only If He (God) Travels In The Trunk, Cause Inside Here…..It’s Already Full ”

Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died,
the car could not be recognized what type of car it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact.

The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken .

Why did the mother let the daughter travel in this drunk stupor again? Surely, she is not to blame! God’s vengeance came down upon the girl… although he did spare her eggs!

Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer) said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.
In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.

To be fair, it’s not the most interesting book…

Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.

Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still alive

“Jesus”

P.S: If it was a joke, you would have sent it to everyone. So are you going to have courage to send this?.

No. I would not have sent this to everyone if it was a joke. I choose not to bother people with annoying email forwards, thank you.

I have done my part, Jesus said

“If you are embarrassed about me,
I will also be embarrassed about you before my father.”
“And I’ll have him kill you by having you strangled, shot, or giving you AIDS.”

You are my 8 in 8 seconds. I am not breaking this. No way!
Yeah! No way!

I’M TOLD THIS WORKS!!!!! Bishop T.D. Jakes “8 Second Prayer.” Just repeat this prayer and see how God moves!!

“Lord, I love you and I need you, come into my heart, and bless me, my family, my home, and my friends, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

All you have to do is say this prayer and don’t bad mouth God, and you’ll be in heaven for sure! Do whatever the hell else you want, but this will save you!

Pass this message to 8 people {EXCEPT YOU AND ME}. You will receive a miracle tomorrow. I Hope that you don’t ignore and let God bless you ..

I’m not even going to comment on this. It’s too easy…

So, here I am again, ranting about religion. It’s funny, really it is. It’s funny that God chooses to violently murder people who speak ill of Him, but JonBenet Ramsey’s killer(s) wanders free. I guess this shows us the real way to appease God: sweet talk. I’m sure Ramsey’s killer prays to God every night asking that he/she/they will never be caught. It seems to have worked.

If only John Lennon had praised Christianity a little more thoroughly, he would still be alive today. I wonder if Abraham Lincoln said the Bible was outdated or something. God got angry, sent John Wilkes Booth on his ass. That explains a lot.

I think the worst part is that the people who write this stuff to promote Christianity miss entirely what Christianity is about. I could have sworn Jesus was saying something about that infinitely loving and forgiving God… You know, you turn your back on Him, but he never turns his back on you? Something like that. Instead, the author of this piece truly believes that God, a being that is beyond human comprehension, beyond the capacity of the human mind, gets pissed off when someone talks garbage and decides to have that person wacked.

To anybody with any sort of intellectual mind, this should not make a lick of sense. I responded to this family member and asked her not to send me things like this anymore, and she merely replied with, “Sorry to see that you have not gotten off of your soapbox yet.”

Ah yes. My soapbox. As I struggle to figure out my faith, as I aim to wrangle with the meaning and significance of Christianity, I am merely standing up on a soapbox.

Well, email forward, I guess you’re right: I don’t know the facts. I didn’t know that the God I was worshiping will give me AIDS if I insult him. I did not know that God kills humans out of anger, despite all refutations of such a notion in the New Testament. I was unaware that God would even concern himself with killing those people, while letting rapists, murderers, child abusers, torturers, terrorists, whatever, roam free over the green earth. I really did not know. Thank you for curing me of my ignorance. It was a plague on my very soul. I will be sure to write to every theology teacher I have ever had (there are six, I believe) and let them know that they are wrong. I will speak with the Pastor of my church and recommend that he work this information into a sermon sometime (this is important for everyone to know). Most importantly, I will be sure to, in my own mind, know the character of the God that I have been worshiping all my life.

Philosophers dating back to the time of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have been struggling to determine the true nature of that which creates and guides the universe, but finally, this author has figured it out.

If ever there was a post on which I sought comments, this is it.
Please. Tell me I’m wrong; tell me you hated it; tell me you don’t believe in a God period.
I just want some responses. I just want discussion.

A Low Expectation of our Generation

September 16, 2007

I’m currently taking a Business and Politics class for the fall semester at Marquette, and while some of the concepts are difficult for me to grasp, I have found the class to be quite beneficial and interesting all around. However, it’s one of those classes that wakes you up to reality. Unlike the Philosophy of Human Nature or Introduction to Sociology (two of my other classes), my Business and Politics class gives a vivid presentation of where America stands in the world, how it got there, and where it is going. While my teacher is absolutely a liberal man, I respect greatly that he presents both sides of every issue and opens the door for class discussion and deliberation so that we can figure out on our own terms how we feel about a certain subject.

Curiously enough, this liberal PhD-holding-professor has had us read a significant chunk of the book, The World is Flat: A brief history of the world, by Thomas Friedman. If you have not read the book, I strongly recommend it. It is captivating, informative, and eye-opening. Friedman begins the book by describing how he sees the world as flat. Technology has allowed the United States to set up call centers in India that operate during our evening hours. These call centers deal with questions and inquiries by the myriads from American and European consumers. Doctors may digitally send X-rays or MRI reports to the East to be read by Indian doctors who, again, are in the middle of their work days as ours comes to a close. This not only offers our American doctor a second opinion of a report, but also allows him to leave the office at 5:00 or 6:00 to get home to his family and rest up.

The world is flattening. We are closer to each other than ever before, while still remaining oceans apart.

Keeping in mind the fact that we are now so close to our Asian neighbors, it is thus important to realize that the playing field has expanded exponentially, and this is something that should be very unsettling for my generation and the ones to follow here in America. The college-bound and college-educated in China and India are bolting with extraordinary diligence to the top. The Asian education systems pump millions of fantastically educated, incomparably motivated young go-getters who are ready and willing to bump us American kids out of the jobs to which we feel inherently entitled. While we American students, myself included, feel burdened and overworked by our 15 credit hours, part time jobs, and one, maybe two extracurriculars, our Asian counter-parts are working ’round the clock on academics and advancing their careers, putting effort into their every aspect of living that is not so common now a days in our U.S. universities.

My Business and Politics professor put this phenomena rather well: You’re in your own little cocoon right now, and within that cocoon, you have created this little world for yourself in which you succeed, but you never take the time to notice that all around that cocoon people are beating in the walls. And soon, you won’t have that protective wall all around you anymore and you’ll know what real competition is.

Looking around my very own dorm, this scenario comes to life. Every day I watch 18, 19, 20 year olds take a $37,000/year education and nonchalantly throw it to the dogs, but ironically enough, even with a 2.5 GPA, these young adults will still come out of school and get good, maybe even great jobs. We can’t count on that happening anymore. I think Friedman put it very well in his book when he stated, “In China, when you’re one in a million, there are 1,300 other people just like you.” Americans just seem to take education for granted, even though it’s one of the most important things we can possibly do for ourselves, and we no longer strive for excellence, just mediocrity.

The playing field is expanding, and the best of the best are going to be the ones to put on the uniform. There is less room for second stringers nowadays, and that becomes increasingly more frightening as it seems that Americans are turning into those second stringers.

Usually I try to come up with some sort of answer, or at least a valid response to whatever given problem I discuss, but I’m at a loss for this one. Of course, I would recommend more money in education (as anyone who reads this thing even once in a while would know), but I’m not sure what else should be done. How do you change the mentality of an entire generation?

Thoughts? Suggestions?

P.S. Enjoy this fun fact:
At 12:34 on Sunday, September 16, 2007, the war in Iraq has cost the United States $452,045, 151,134. Instead, the U.S. could have provided 21,914,160 students four-year scholarships at state universities. Nice. http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=207&id=322&task=view

A Christian Bless on Our U.S. …Maybe?

August 23, 2007

I know a couple of my past entries have, in some way or another, involved Christianity, but I get on kind of a “roll” with topics and just end up with a lot to say about them.

If you’d like to know what the point of this entry is without reading the entire thing, here it is: The United States is NOT a Christian nation. It never has been. Anyone who tells you otherwise a.) is full of bologna or b.) honestly has no clue.

I first stumbled upon the significance of this fact during my freshman second semester at Marquette. I had possibly the most wonderful Western Civilization teacher I could have ever asked for, and while studying the Enlightenment period in England, we discussed all the ways in which England’s government influenced America’s own setup- even our Bill of Rights is based off one that Parliament created years earlier. All of America’s earliest and greatest leaders modeled themselves off of the great Enlightenment thinkers from France and England.

A key point of the Enlightenment Period was the search for logic and rationality. Intellectuals of this period sought reason in all things… including religion. It was at this time that deism flourished.

In short, deism is a belief in a creator, usually referred to as God. This was a replica of Aristotle’s “unmoved mover” who sets the world in motion. However, once the Creator winds the watch (the analogy that is commonly used) he steps back and observes as it all unfolds. This god does not intervene in human affairs. Ever.

Following along the same lines, deists do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They believe that he did indeed exist but that he was in no way divine. Why is this? Because it was not reasonable. It did not make sense that the Creator would interfere with the world. Thomas Jefferson even created an edited version of the Bible in which he censored ALL of Christ’s miracles (miracles are things that defy the laws of nature, and why would the Creator violate the natural laws which He himself established?).

Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, all of them were deists. They were not men of Christianity, and in fact, they believed that Christianity was a religion that should be taught to children and to the uneducated.

The truth is, even today, many people who identify themselves as “Christian” are not TRULY Christian. The one single thing that makes Christianity different from any other religion is the belief that only through the acceptance that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, can an individual be saved. I personally cannot agree with this. Can an African living in one of the poorest countries in the world not be saved, simply because he/she has never HEARD of Jesus? That seems to counter the whole notion of the infinitely loving God we hear so much about in the New Testament. Simply because we were lucky enough to be born in a Western nation where Christianity is talked about frequently we are also lucky enough to be saved.

I don’t think so.

[Also, as a side note… for those of you who argue that the phrase “under God” should not be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance because it has “always been there” and would “change the originality of the Pledge”, please review your facts. The phrase “under God” was not added to the Pledge until 1954 by the Knights of Columbus, while the ORIGINAL Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. Here’s a good quick read on that history by Dr. John W. Baer.]

I’m really not trying to bash on anybody or tell you that your faith is wrong (because I don’t believe in doing that), but I think it’s important that we be well-informed before we go on yelling and causing a ruckus about this or that. This is a government absolutely based on the notion of separation of Church and State.

However, I feel that both sides of this argument can take things wayyyy too far. Yes, it’s wrong to have the Ten Commandments posted on a courthouse wall, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s wrong to offer a moment of silence in public schools. A Christian may take this time to ask Jesus for guidance for the day; a Muslim may ask Allah to bring him or her strength during a time of need; a Buddhist may take a moment to peacefully meditate; while an atheist can just take a second to relax and unwind. As long as no mention of God, Mohammad, Krishna, etc. is mentioned, then who cares?

Certainly not me. You are not infringing on my right to worship as I please, nor are you forcing me to believe what you believe. I’m not being harmed; I’m not being bothered. End of story.

But perhaps that is a discussion for another day. I feel I’ve begun to ramble, so I’ll end here with this that is something that I’ve been trying to live by for the past couple months:

“Judge not lest ye be judged.”
-Jesus (Matthew 7:1)

Gay is Okay! Back off already, will ya?

August 14, 2007

This is going to be one of very few occasions in which I spend an entire blog ranting about some major issue like this. Feel free to spit back if you don’t agree, but just please… be respectful.

This whole rant is inspired by comment made by someone I know just a couple days ago.
While chatting about gays in the U.S. with another person with which I am acquainted (I don’t want to give aaaaaany identities out here), this woman intervened and said, “Oh, well I just had to talk to my pastor about that type around my kids.”
I said, “Oh…do you mean too much physical affection being displayed in front of your kids or something?”
She replied, “No… a guy in our neighborhood who has been flashing little kids.”
The other person in the conversation almost exploded with rage. “That’s a pedophile,” he said calmly with great restraint.
I added, “That has absolutely nothing to do with being gay.”

This conversation sparked some anger inside me, and I felt like the best outlet for that anger would be, of course, an opinion blog.

I’m done. I’m done with people complaining about gays. I’m done with listening to wack job Christians scream that gays have brought the war in Iraq upon us. I’m just absolutely tired with people CARING so much about what other people do when it brings absolutely no harm upon anyone else.

You just don’t like that people are living their lives differently than you choose to live yours.
Stop it.

You don’t want your children seeing gay people express affection in front of them? Why?
I’ll tell you what: if your child truly is straight, seeing two women hold hands isn’t going to change anything.

I’m sick of the stereotypes: Oh those gays are just SO sexually promiscuous!
I’ve got more news for you… A 25 year old straight man or women having a couple dozen sexual partners is not a rarity. And again, it’s not hurting you!

I am also getting fed up with people demanding that the government outlaw gay civil unions. I can understand Churches outlawing gay marriage; they are private sectors of life in which the government cannot interfere. But that works both ways! Just because it’s “against your religion” for two gay people to get married, let alone be in love, doesn’t mean that the government must prohibit it. Jews don’t believe in eating pork, and you don’t see them seeking a national ban on the product! They just don’t eat it themselves- end of story.
What a concept!

I feel like this country is regressing back to the mentality of toddlers. Do you honestly have to be told to mind your own business, like you’re four years old? Just, leave people alone. They are inflicting no injury upon you. They are not infringing on your rights to be a free citizen of this country. What’s the problem?

And for the Christians out there who are saying that homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible…I don’t even want to hear it. If you REALLY knew what you were talking about, you’d remember what the concept of Jesus’ coming was in the first place. He came to tell the world to throw out all the old rules! He marked the beginning of a new era that preached first and foremost the love of God and others. That being said, how can allowing two men to be together who truly love one another be such a bad thing? We would merely be fostering love in a world that already has enough hate to last us through to the next century.

And secondly… saying that 911, the war in Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina all occurred because of God’s wrath on the U.S. for being too lax on gays… Give me a break! Once again, the “vengeful God” is the God of the Old Testament. How dare you call yourself Christian while you still hold so much hate in your heart for other human beings? You make the rest of us Christians look like spiteful lunatics.
Just stop it.

And finally, to the the accusations that same sex couples do not raise mentally healthy children… you obviously have not been keeping yourself up to date. Hundreds of studies are proving more and more often that same sex parents raise children who are just as mentally sound, if not more so, than opposite sex parents. Here is just one example of one such study: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20051012/study-same-sex-parents-raise-well-adjusted-kids

Soooo I’m pretty riled up now, but I feel like all that had to be said. My choice, my preference, is not to live a gay lifestyle, but I will be damned if I have to sit around and listen to other people being told that they cannot live one.

Christian Schooling is NOT Brainwashing!

August 9, 2007

A Christian Bias Against Good Education
I just really want to clarify that generalizing all Christian educational institutions in that manner is quite erroneous.

This was an interesting post, but it bothered me a little for a couple reasons… Some of the comments bothered me even more.

I have been at a Catholic school my whole life… I spent K-8th at a Catholic grade school, then attended a Catholic high school (a school that is academically ranked extremely well in the state of Illinois with an average ACT score of 27 and was recently named the Sports Illustrated High School of the year), and I am now at Marquette University, a Jesuit college.

I can tell you that my education was NOTHING like the descriptions listed in this blog. While God is an active part of a Catholic school (in high school, we attended all-school liturgy assemblies about once a month, a cross was displayed in every classroom, we had to take a theology class every year, and the days always began with prayer) my education was not injected with an inherently Christian outlook.

I don’t recall God being mentioned more than three or four times in any given science class. I studied evolution and the Big Bang theory in biology. While my chemistry teacher would occasionally, after finishing a lecture on something like entropy, state that the Creator is very smart in how he made the universe, that was the extent of God in that class. My physics class was taught by a man who I honestly assumed to be an agnostic, and my environmental science class touched on the fact that we need to care about the earth because we are stewards of it.
I studied American and world history with literally no mention of God’s intervention in either. One of my required theology courses in high school was titled, “Comparative Theology”, a class in which we studied the structure and inherent beauty in other religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. I wasn’t brain washed by anyone. I wasn’t forced to believe anything and neither was anyone else.

I valued and continue to value the strength of my Catholic education greatly. I feel like instructors have a little more leeway to teach the way they’d like to teach. There are no standardized tests issued by the government that regulate class content and constrict the creativity of teachers. If nothing else, our education was enhanced by the Christian ideals of community, charity, and love.

Every year the football players held a food drive before Thanksgiving, while seemingly year round drives- such as school supply donations for underprivileged children and infant clothing for financially insecure single mothers- were a regular part of the school year. Our junior year theology project required 40 hours of community service.

Just because one attends any type of Christian school does NOT mean that every class will be debilitatingly bound in chains and gagged with the Bible. In my 14 years of experience in various Christian learning environments, I have found that it merely means bringing out the best in every aspect of every student- mind, body, and spirit.

My point is, not ALL Christian institutions brainwash students into believing that adding 1+1 = God in algebra. The faith is more of background music that plays gently behind the academic scene. It shows us what we’re capable of with such a fine education, so that, once we get to wherever our careers may take us, we always remember our Christian upbringing in order to better the lives of everyone around us and keep us strong and resolute in our endeavors.