"a gun is just a tool. No better or worse than any other tool, a shovel- or an axe or a saddle or a stove or anything... a gun is as good or bad as the man who carries it."
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
“First Practice” by Gary Gildner, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, and “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, all have the common theme of challenging the norm, just as the event “What it means to be an Ally” encourages support of these differences. The challenges that the LGBTQ community faces in being a sexual orientation minority, mirror the challenges that the ex-drug addicts and cons as well as the family face in “Serving up Hope,” and “A Father.” The courage that this community possesses to speak up against sexual orientation discrimination is also mirrored in the works that were read like the courage needed to resist the structured system in “Directions for Resisting the SAT.”
In the article “Serving up Hope,” Chef Galen Sampson provides recovering drug-addicts and ex-cons a means of transitioning back into society by teaching them culinary skills, which can be used to acquire a steady job in the culinary arts. Bridget and Galen Sampson started the Dogwood Café in an effort to give back to and promote social justice for a community that our society deems worthless. In their efforts to help these people adjust back into normal life, they are giving them the opportunity to achieve things in life and challenge the stigma that they won’t amount to anything of importance. As Tyrone Lewis puts it, “They made me see that what I think does matter. It makes a world of difference.” By attending the event “what it means to be an ally” I gained a glimpse of what the LGBTQ community struggles through. Just like the ex-cons and drug users, they are discriminated against and made to feel inferior for their sexual orientations. Yet, just like the ex-cons and drug users, they draw upon an inward courage to fight against the stigma’s and speak up for what is right; with the support of allies, who help shoulder the burden of speaking up against this discrimination.
I learned yesterday that allies pride themselves on speaking up against the discrimination when no-one else will. By doing this, not only are they showing their outward opposition of hateful language and/or actions; but are also exemplifying that you don’t need to be gay in order to stand up for what is right. Speaking up against a system that demeans individuals is also what “Directions for Resisting the SAT” represents. This poem encourages the breaking of rules that support conformity, just as the LGBTQ community shows us it’s okay to break free from the classic mold of sexual orientation.
Along with other challenges the LGBTQ community faces, one of the major problems is outright hatred or discrimination. Even something that appears innocent, such as the insistence of your heterosexuality, can have hurtful emotional consequences. In “First Practice” the coach challenges and intimidates his team, and later instigates fighting amongst them. Similarly to the fight many wage between “gay vs. straight,” he arranges his team into two sides and urges them to physically display their hatred to the opposing side, while inconspicuously inflicting damage. He comes to represent the discrimination that the LGBTQ community faces in their day-to-day lives.
Other challenges involve the inability for other to understand what it means to identify as LGBTQ. Many people are opposed to change, and aren’t willing to accept someone who is openly gay, often because they don’t understand. These feelings are shared by the family in “A Father.” The father is incapable of completely adjusting to the American way of life, and struggles between the western mentality and his traditional Indian Beliefs. His wife on the other hand, is far more accepting of American culture, which can be seen in her attempts to cook and the use of self-help books. Yet both these adults are unable to compromise their traditional Indian values when it comes to their daughter, who fits seamlessly into the American standard. Her father struggles to come to terms with her pregnancy, and when the secret is finally out, he snaps under pressure and assaults her with a rolling pin for “shaming the family.”
All of these works share in the courage and challenges that the LGBTQ community faces. The messages range from encouraging the resistance of a “heterosexual only” society, to the positive outcomes that can be gained from having a support system in the form of an ally.
At the reading marathon, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was read. This book is entirely about social norms either being upheld or destroyed in order to find happiness. This relates to the works we have read because they all involve social norms. First Practice show the patriarchal norm of society along with the stereotypical macho man. I look at it as presenting these idealisms of the stereotypical man and that is definitely related to the men in the book and how they make romantic decisions that either uphold or change to outlook of the stereotypical man. Directions for resisting the SAT seems to revise the idea a success. This relates in that the book seemed to champion the idea of marrying for love and not for social reasons, this believing success is measured by happiness and not social status. A Father looks at the social norms, focusing on women, in India. These two stories have the direct relation of how women are seen in society and what their duties are. Servin up Hope shows how ever individual can affect their society. This relates in that the men and women in Pride and Prejudice affect their society through the romantic decisions they make, since many defied social standards.
I recently attended a seminar on Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. At this seminar professors spoke about how they interpreted the letter from the points of their departments. A Theology and two Writing professors picked it apart. They talked about how King wrote hi letter and why. In his letter, King distinguishes the difference between right and wrong while also talking about all that is needed in the world is acceptance. If everyone were to just except people for who they are and not base opinions off of what someone looks like, then our world would be a better place.
This concept shows up again in Bharati Mukherjee’s short story, “A Father”. Here a man and his wife believe that their daughter who is pregnant with no husband has shamed their family. Even though a baby is all that the daughter wants, and she was the one who went to a doctor to be artificially inseminated, her family cannot accept her for who she is and ends up beating her with a rolling pin. If her father had just accepted her choices, just as King asked of our country, then their family could have been happy again and celebrating a new life.
Another example of not accepting someone for who they are is in Gary Gildner’s poem First Practice. Here the speaker talks about a man who tries to change innocent boys into mean aggressive fighters. As a coach, Clifford Hill is supposed to inspire his players and make them love the sport. Yet he does not do this. Hill instills in his players the need to win over all other things. He even lines them up against each other to battle it out. Hill could not accept his players as boys who just want to play; he had to make them into winning machines.
Even tough a lot of people in this world cannot accept people for who they are, the Sampsons could. In Stephanie Shapiro “Serving up Hope”, Mr. Sampson does this amazing act of helping drug addicts get back on their feet and back into society. He gives them jobs once they are clean and sober. Not only does he give them a paid job, but he also teaches them to become chefs. Mr. Sampson is able to accept these people as who they are, and doesn’t care. He still finds a way to be the wonderful man that he is and help them.
At one time or another, everyone will run into someone that is unlike him or her in some way. If people are just accepting of others and don’t judge or alienate them, then our world would be a much better place for everyone.
I am a member of Spectrum, the LGBT group on campus, who was has been hosting events all week for Sexual Diversity Awareness Week. Wednesday, March 20th, there was an event called “What it means to be an ally” held in Cohn Hall with Doctor LoPresto and Tim Cherney. I also read the poems “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” by Richard Hague, and “First Practice,” by Gary Gildner, in addition to the article “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shaprio from the Baltimore Sun and “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee. These very different pieces of work all cover the universal task of overcoming adversity. Everyone handles adversity differently and that is evident throughout these life experiences and pieces of literature, in addition they display how time can affect the burden of adversity. While everyone faces some form of adversity in their life, not everyone deals with it properly, but through a further understanding of each other, we can begin to handle this adversity more easily than before.
Dr. LoPresto is a straight man and an “out” ally while Tim Cherney identifies as a gay man. Being an ally meanings something different to each of them. Dr. LoPresto began Spectrum here at Loyola as has remained the groups adviser for the past 15 years. It has not always been easy for him to be an ally. He faced losing his career as a professor by standing up for gay rights when the motion was still new and not widely accepted as a fact. Tim Cherney spoke on how he is a gay man and an ally, because he must support others within his LGBT community. They offered new perspectives and adversities that I had not seen before within the community. But their load has gotten lighter with time, as more people in American culture begin to accept that being gay is not a choice, but just something different. However it is still not an easy job being an ally; Dr. LoPresto made of pointing of stating that “you have to be courageous and unafraid of people questioning your own sexuality” when you chose to stand up for gays. He brought about the notion that allies must come out too, because, even in 2013, many people continue to strongly oppose gay rights. Similarly, Galen and Bridget Sampson saw a chance to fight against another form of social injustice here in Baltimore. They were given the opportunity to hire Tyrone Lewis and Jennifer Brock at the Dogwood Deli. They saw the adversity these two former drug addicts had faced, and chose overlooked their past mistakes to give them a chance at a new life. They understood that being a former drug addict was a part of them, not all of them, just like allies and supporters believe that being gay is not a choice, and is just a part of the people who identify as LGBT, not all of them. The Sampsons put their new business at risk by hiring a chef who was newly clean and a cashier who never saw a future for herself, but they chose to hire them anyways. The Sampsons have given Brock importance and a renewed sense of self in order for her to remain clean and not relapse. The Sampsons have made Lewis “see that what [he] think[s] does matter. It makes a world of difference."
For some, the adversity is less harsh, such as teenagers raging against organized education. In Richard Hague’s poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT” he offers various techniques on how to avoiding the SATs. He offers speaking “nothing like English” and going “down with the ship- any ship,” as if it does not matter how you take a stand as long as you do. I can appreciate his sentiment, but not his way of going about it. Apart from his decree for his readers to “Make your mark on everything” there is no real reason behind why one should resist the people who tell you what you have to know and when you have to know it by. The adversity he encourages us to overcome is a stepping stool to higher education. If education is the key to understanding each other and overcoming adversity, why would you want to hinder that? Gary Gildner proposes overcoming adversity in an unconventional way as well in “First Practice.” He encourages his player to do whatever it takes, no matter the risk or potential penalties, to win. But when overcoming adversity is does matter how you get there. In the future, will people remember the peaceful protest that got the bill passed along or the violent riot where four cops and six citizens died that got the bill past? Will people remember the win, or the kid on the opposite team who broke his leg in the game? Overcoming our challenges in life is important, but we must remember to remain dignified in our actions and reactions to the wrongs committed against us.
We must remain dignified in our stance to preserve the integrity of our fight, especially when we fight for social justice and our religious rights. Bharati Mukherjee’s “A Father,” divulges the domestic struggles of a couple with one very religious party, and a far less religious party who feels less important than their partners religion. This story is laced with adversity; between both the husband and wife and the father a daughter. His religion holds back his relationships and hinders the connection he shares with his daughter. While he engages in petty fights with his wife over daily prayer, he faces real confliction when his daughter, Babli, becomes pregnant. His wife and he begin to blame each other for this “shameful” act their daughter had brought upon them. This “burden” became too much for any of them to bare any longer and it culminated in a series of domestic acts of violence. His religious beliefs and standards for his daughter resulted in a strike by rolling pin from his hand to his daughter’s childbearing stomach. The adversity of having an unmarried daughter pregnant, combined with a clash of religion led to poor actions to battle against his adversities. He could no longer take the challenges that were given to him and he acted as he saw fit. Sadly for his daughter, she was the brunt of his reaction. He could not comprehend the changing times and the wishes of his daughter. How could he ever accept his daughter’s pregnancy when he couldn’t even stop praying in order to make it to breakfast in time?
Being an ally myself, I have the personal life experiences to compare to these stories. The majority of our adversities are born from our inability to overcome our fears as a society. Much of the adversity faced in these stories could have been avoided through education, understanding and a willingness to learn and change. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders face hardships within our heterosexual society who struggles with acceptance, but they also struggle with accepting each other. Being an ally is not easy, because we go against the majority to stand up for something we often see effortlessly. There should not have to be a ballot question regarding love equality. But he stand against the crowd, whose opinions often emerge from fear, which is never easy because fear is very powerful, especially in large numbers. I may not see the value in every argument of adversity, but if you believe that the SATs are degrading education, then fight for it. Just do so gracefully. If you believe that it is your duty to beat the other team, then fight for it. Just do so gracefully. All adversities can be overcome in a variety of ways, but we must remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. We must also remember the positive effect time and education can have.
It is always hard relating a story that took place years ago to more recent written stories. This is because times have changed dramatically. By listening to the reflection on The Letter of Birmingham Jail and also reading Bharati Mukherjee “A Father,” Stephanie Shapiro “Serving up Hope,” Richard Hague, “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” and Gary Gildner, “First Practice,” I surprisingly found a connection. A connection between making a difference, dealing with a difference and overcoming a difference.
I actually attended two different lectures that discussed feedback on The Letter of Birmingham Jail. Both in which gave me more knowledge on the letter that I had not picked up upon when first reading it.
First comparing the way Martin Luther King relates his writing to Theology. King describes it as an opening of a womb that needs to be healed. Similar to the way Jesus struggled. He describes his time in jail as a long process, just like everything in life, times heals it. Throughout his letter, King compares his thoughts to many theologians and philosophers.
Next, more importantly, King speaks about morning. He summarizes that morning is a healthy response to loss. And more deeply entering melancholia - an unhealthy pathological response to loss, unable to replace loss. King’s letter is the melancholia kind and also the morning kind. He states “One day the south will know..” And what King means by this is that what the South has lost now will never be replaced. King in this case speaks of his knowledge that will letter help the South, but they are yet to know it.
Both of these examples of the way in which speaks in his letter were presented in the events I went to. These events made it clear and also summarized the most important facts in King’s letter. But most of all they emphasized how much of a change King made although nothing came out of it. We are living proof that King is a legend. Later, at the end of the event we found out that the clergymen King had wrote to never even made a change. Things remained the same. King still didn’t give up.
Relating what I learned about King’s letter to “A Father” by Bharati Mukerjee, was all about connecting relationship. The relationship between a father and a daughter can be hard to understand sometimes. But it is also a relationship that has much power and much love. Although during “A Father” there is a feuding relationship between a father and a daughter, I believe it shows love. Love that people are willing to fight for. Just like the reason King wrote this letter. His love for the people around him was worth fighting for; therefore he did something about it.
Following I read “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, which brought emotion to my heart. This article was written to show that everyday people can affect the world around us. The little things in life are what we don’t know can make a huge difference. I’m not sure if you can tell, but King’s letter is what made a big difference. We live a much easier life because of some of the things King did throughout his life.
In conclusion I would like to compare King’s letter and my thoughts to “First Practice” by Gary Gildner. This poem helped me relate to my life in a sense. I remember the first days of some of my practices like it was yesterday. My coaches, some different then others, made me nervous. But, there was one in particular that stood out. A man who did not show any sympathy about anything from the start of practice. He was stern and aggressive from the beginning. Just like the coach in this poem and King in the letter. They both share the passion to get something done. The coach would like to win games and King would like to win freedom.
"One person can make a difference, and every person should try" once said by John F. Kennedy. This quote rings true when referring to the influence one person has over their family, society, and a group of people. For example, in the short story "A Father" by Bharati Mukjerjee, a young girl gets pregnant out of wedlock. The pregnancy brings shame to her family because of the societies standards. Very similar to this issue, are the issues presented in "Serving up Hope" by Stephanie Shapiro, "First Practice" by Gary Gildner and "Directions for Resisting the SAT" by Richard Hague. Each of these short stories and poems express, in one form or another, the influence an individual can have on others. This influence, however, is not always positive for the community, as illustrated in some of this examples.
As previously stated, "A Father" addresses the influences a culture has over its people. In an Indian nation to have a child before marriage is taboo. Therefore when Mr. Bhowmick found out his daughter was pregnant, he knew she would have to abort the baby. If she denied the abortion then she would bring unbearable shame to their family. One can only imagine the troubles that Mr. Bhowmick's daughter caused. Along with these troubles, the reader can also comprehend the seriousness of the Indian culture, especially its influence on society. This being said, when I was reading "A Father" I first thought about the cultural indifferences between India and America which then lead me to think about the cultural norms in America. Here, in the United States we are so fortunate to have the amount of freedom we do. It makes me really think about how many options I have, oppose to all the "closed doors" some societies are restricted to. Some places in this world people have it much worse, and me, not being influenced by any higher-power for the exception of my parents, feels absolutely overwhelmed but the differences in cultural values.
"Serving up Hope" highlights the idea that everyday people can influence the world and lives around them. Stephanie Shapiro writes about a visit she had to Dogwood Deli in Baltimore. Upon Shapiro's visit, she is more interested in the employees then the couple who opened the new deli. The employees who work at Dogwood Deli are previous drug addicts and convicts. Hard to image that an average couple would be happy hiring criminals and drug addicts. This being noted, the Sampsons were fascinated by social justice so hiring these employee's actually brought them joy. It is easy to sympathize with these criminals and drug addicts because of the sever challenges they face trying to obtain stable employment. In this instance, the Sampson's influenced these previous criminals and drug addicts positively, they gave them a fresh start and a chance to thrive. Statistics prove that in the United States about 47% of former prisoners will be convicted of a new crime, and 41% will be sent back to prison or jail (crimeinamerica.net). Imagine if you were a store owner, you wouldn't want former prisoners as employees. The Sampson's gave these people a second shot to restart there lives. I can only imagine how hard it is for these people to get back on their feet, and I give the Sampson's kudos for hiring and helping them out.
Gary Gildner brings up a excellent point in his poem "First Practice". "First Practice" is about the relationship between a coach and his team. The relationship is compared to military forces and the seriousness of the "game". Gildner uses descriptive language to create images and evoke a certain feeling from the reader. "Then he made two lines of us facing each other, and across the way, he said, is the man you hate most"(Gildner). This quote has a military reference but more importantly draws a picture for the reader, there is two lines of people, facing each other, and on the other side is your enemy. In this "picture" that Gildner creates, it evokes this feeling of competition. After reading "First Practice" I began to think of some of my days playing youth sports and remembering my coaches. Though Gildner's poem is not cut and dry like other poems, after reading and rereading I began to think this poem was about how coaches influence their players, positively and negatively. I know, personally, that I can think of coaches from all my years of playing sports that have influenced me. Some coaches in a good way and others in a bad. Coaches are like teachers, in the aspect that they are meant to teach and support there students and players. In "First Practice" one should be able to reflect on an experience they had with a coach or teacher and remember how superiors influence us everyday through teachings.
"Directions for Resisting the SAT" written by Richard Hague expresses a different type of influence. From the past readings listed and discussed, the major theme running through all has been positive and negative types of influence. Different from all the rest, is Hague's argument about influence, and how influence should never hinder our ability to "make our mark on everything"(Hague). From what I understood from this poem, Hague wants us to be aware of the influences around us, but stay true to what really is inside. Internally we all have our own desires and he doesn't want us to forget about them. "Desire to live whole, like an oyster or snail"(Hague). In this quote, Hague is using oyster and snail to resemble the outer layer as influences, but inside is our deepest desires.
Collecting everything I've learning and applying it to the Loyola speaker Julianna Baggott, one major comparison is how Baggott uses the world around her as inspiration. She writes about bizarre things because the world is bizarre, and if you write about normal things it's because you aren't looking deep enough (Baggott). Baggott uses the world to influence her writing, and similar to Baggott, the characters and speakers in the poems and short stories, are all influenced negatively and positively by similar forces. After realizing what influences me, and what doesn't, I've become more aware of my freedom, more in tune with what makes me happy, and realize the influences I receive from the outside world everyday. Despite the constant pressures from society and the negative influences I encounter daily, I will make sure I follow no directions, Listen to no one, and make my mark on everything (Hague). The external factors of the world will never change my internal desires.
21 March 2013
In the works “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, “First Practice” by Gary Gildner and finally “A Letter from the Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr all focus on the ideas of overcoming differences in religion, culture, race, morals and ideologies. Last Thursday I attended a key note presentation call "The Post Racial Blues" and it was about how Martin Luther King’s letter, “A letter from a Birmingham Jail” affected the Civil Rights movement and post Civil Rights. All of the works previous mentioned have a theme of diversity in people that the authors fully understand are based on their upbringings, culture and religious beliefs. Martin Luther King tried to change the culture around him for the better, to be more accepting and understanding, just as the authors Mukherjee, Sharipo, Hague and Gildner tell their stories to adjust the culture around them.
The two short stories assigned this week “A Father” and “Serving up Hope” are about accepting people for who they are and not making assumptions about them based on their past. “A Father” is about a Hindu husband with an agnostic wife and a daughter, greatly influenced by American culture, who all find faults with in each other. The wife and daughter think the father spends too much time praying, the husband is frustrated the his wife does not understand or share in his beliefs and the daughter, twenty-six and unmarried, decides to have a baby through a needle and sperm. When the mother and father find out what the daughter has done, the mother is ashamed and attacks her daughter with a rolling pin (sounds like something racists would do to the black community), but the father was more accepting. At first the father was afraid that the baby came from a white man and the baby would not be the grandchild he wanted but once it became reality he was more accepting of his daughter. “Serving up Hope” is an inspiring story about an ex-addict who opens a small coffee shop and only hires ex-convicts or ex-addicts like himself. He understood the severity of the job he was taking on but he wanted to give people the second chance he deserve. Like the Hindu father, he was serious about his work but he also embraced people who were different that others would usually through to the side.
The poems “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and “First Practice” may not be about serious topics of racism, being counter cultural or accepting people for who they are but they are about responsibility and lessons of maturity learned through something everyone does. Everyone dreads it but have to take the SATs, everyone has that first practice with the most intense coach and depending how one handles it, everyone takes away lessons from the experiences. In his letter, King urges people to learn from what they see, hear and experience in order to make a better world around them. In King's time every white man would encounter a black man and every black man would encounter a white man, King asked that you choose to not treat each other differently because the color of their skin but to learn from experience and grow to appreciate one another for who they are.
Martin Luther King Jr’s letters, speeches and ideas still greatly impact our world today the the key note speaker even said we have a hagiographic way of viewing him. King did not want to be viewed as a saint he wanted a better, more equal world that everyone could peacefully live in. The works covered give a wide variety of inequality and diversity in religion, culture, race, morals and ideologies as did MLK in his life.
“A Father’” by Bharati Mukherjee , “Seerving up Hope” by Stephanie Sharpio, “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” by Richard Hague, and ““First Practice” by Gary Gildner all express ideas of non conformity and going against the norm that has been set by those before you. This week we were not able to visit acts 4 youth because of the outbreak of mumps, but instead we had a meeting with some of the students that volunteer for the acts 4 youth program. In this meeting we discussed some very eye opening facts about where the kids from this program will be heading after their time at middle and high school. I personally did not know half of the facts we learned at this meeting. I did not know that in Baltimore the high school system was so different from where I live. They have the regular public high schools, but they also have magnet high schools in which the students have to apply to before hand and have to take placement tests for. We talked about the different types of students that would be coming out of the middle schools and where they would all be heading. We ultimately split them into three categories, the A students, who really enjoyed learning and wanted to continue their education, the B students who still did well in school but were most likely to just attend the public high school and possibly decide to go to college in the future, and the C and below students, who for the most part would end up either not going to high school or attending the public high schools for sometime and eventually dropping out. Talking about the different types of students made us all realize that it doesn’t just depend on the student them self, there is so much more the impacts how they do in school and what they decide to do with their lives. We learned how big a part the education system comes into play with the future of these kids. While there are always going to be the A students who do well in school, there will still be the C and lower students. Now this doesn’t mean that these students do not like school and do not want to get and education, it may the complete opposite, but the education system does not fit their interests, and they may become bored of school. They might think to themselves, why would I continue going to school when nothing that I am interested in is covered in class and what I want to pursue in life is being shut down by the teachers and they are telling me to stick to the work that is laid out in front of me? There are many factors that come into play that impact the future of these kids but I think the poems and short stories we had to read really give insight to the struggles these students have to face and how they could change their own lives for the better.
“Directions for Resisting the SAT,” by Richard Hague really opened my eyes, and I think that it would be helpful for the students at Acts4Youth to read. I believe that Hague understands the absurdity of the SAT’s. He knows that it is not fair in any way to compare the score that one person got to that of another person because no one is the same. We all have different learning styles and test taking techniques, so how on earth is the fair the judge others of the same test? There are just so many things that are wrong with the standardized tests where are required to take for entry to college and Hague knows this and is telling us to go against it. In high school the SAT’s seem to rule your life. All you hear is how important they are and if you want to get into a good school you must do well on the SAT’s and to put all the time and effort into studying for it. The kids who may not be the best test takers think to themselves “why should I care and try to do well on this test if I already know I am going to do poorly?” He tells us to not take the test because everyone is telling you to. He tells us “follow no directions, Listen to no one. Make your mark on everything.” Don’t get stuck in the group “everyone else,” don’t do somethimg because that’s what everyone else is doing, do it because you and only you wants to do it. What Hague is telling us here is to not give in to society and do not conform to what people will try to pound into your head, and I think this is something that the kids at Acts4Youth could use. I think Hague wants us to do the SAT’s for ourselves, and no one else. Do it because you believe in yourself and only because of that.
Gary Gildner’s “First Practice,” portrays a life that many of the Acts4Youth kids live. Many of the kids come from single parents homes and face much greater difficulties than most of the population here at Loyola has ever had to face. Gildner portrays a very intimidating first day of practice, but for these kids its not about just a practice, its about their every day situation. We were told a story about a young 7th grade boy in the Acts4Youth program that is bullied by some of the other boys he goes to school with. He gets his backpack and other possession stolen out of his locker, his backpack was urinated on by these boys as well as his house keys stolen. He was asked why he never goes to the teachers or administration for help and he explained that it wouldn’t make a difference, that they wouldn’t help him. The one time he did complain he got the boys to wash his backpack for him but that was it, he did not get his belongings returned to him. He has learned that he must deal with these bullies on his own. This boy lives the Gildner poem. The poem says “ and across the way, he said, is the man you hate the most,” this is what this young boy must experience. Everyday he must face the boys who bully him and he knows he must deal with it on his own because the faculty does nothing to help him. This young boy is living this intimidating practice every time he has to face the bullies at school.
In “A Father,” tradition is broken by his daughter, which leads the father into extreme rage, and he proceeds to beat his own child but for some breaking tradition may be the best thing to do. The father in this story is so set on tradition and the beliefs that he has been raised with that it doe not matter to him that it is his own daughter he is beating. The boys in Acts4Youth are lead to break tradition just as the daughter did. Tradition for these some of these boys may be to drop out of school and go into “pharmaceuticals” as some people may call it. The hope is for the students to realize that there is more to what they have been raised around. The daughter realizes that tradition isn’t everything and there is more to life than what you have been raised around. For these boys it is so common to see young people dropping out of school and for many of them they may see that as an easy path to take as well. Though sad, staying in school could very well be breaking tradition. What makes this “tradition” even worse is the how little people expect from these kids. At the meeting I attended we were told that the Baltimore detention centers calculate the number of beds they will need by checking the local elementary school and seeing how many of the fourth graders are still at a second grade reading level. I compare this news to the father. Both the daughter and the boys at Acts4Youth are being pushed by the pre-destined path into going somewhere they may not want to go. The daughter realized that creating her own path was the best decision for her and hopefully the boys at Acts4Youth will realize that too.
Stephanie Sharpiro’s story in “Serving up Hope” is about new beginnings and knowing that even if you run into obstacles in your life you always have a second shot. The Dogwood Deli gives back to those who have hit these obstacles in life, whatever they may be, and help them start over. Acts4Youth tries to teach their students this importance of giving back. Everyone deserves a second chance, because everyone makes mistakes. We hope the students will understand this idea of giving help to those who need it instead of turning their backs on the people who need it most.
If there is one thing I have learned from going to service at the Guilford School it is that the boys have what it takes, the power, to create the future they want. I work with a specific group of 3 boys and in the three hours I sit with them every Monday, I learn so much about each of them. I learn about their likes/dislikes, hear about their hopes and dreams and most important, I see their potential. Acts 4 youth teaches these young boys about teamwork, self-discipline, respect and responsibility. These traits are used to reinforce the importance of good decision making and overcoming peer pressure and succumbing to things that will interfere with their future and success. In relation to the readings for this week, Acts 4 youth emphasizes seizing opportunities that come your way and taking charge of your own life.
Not only does Richard Hague’s poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, give tips on how to do poorly on the SAT’s, “do not observe thru les of gravity, commons, history,” but rather it challenges the reader to take charge. Why should we spend our lives following grammatical rules and memorizing facts about life of George Washington? The speaker tells the reader to “listen to no one.” Now, when it comes to the Guilford school, I do not urge the students to disobey the teacher and ignore the rules of the classroom. I do think the students should think outside the box and work hard for what they desire. I can understand and empathize with their frustration of school work throughout the day. The boys are forced to learn subjects that do not apply to them and they are not aware of when all of it will “come into play.” Most know that the school day is filled with busy work of things they “have” to learn, but why do they have to know this? How does this pertain to them and their direct future? Hague ends the poem saying “make your marks on everything.” If you’re going to do something, do it big. As they say, “go big, or go home.” I can honestly say that if the students at Guilford put as much energy in their future as they do joking around in the classroom, they would be successful and happy. The truth of the matter is that they won’t put in the same amount of energy or effort because that do not see the point. I feel as though the boys get discouraged when they don’t understand a certain subject or assignment, but as made clear in the poem, one test, or assignment, should not determine their future and should not discourage them from potential success.
“First Practice”, a poem by Gary Gildner, has a much different feel. The coach comes off as very strict and demanding, but inspiring in a sense. He allows an opportunity for the boys to leave, but no one does. The boys made the commitment to the team and are determined to win. At any moment, the boys at the Guilford can just get up and storm out. In the weeks I have been there, I have never witnessed this. I have seen boys get frustrated, complain, give up on the work in the moment, but with just a little bit of encouragement and a reminder of why we are all there…they keep going. I feel as though I am a cheerleader on the sidelines for the boys at the school. I keep them on track, but stay on their side. I tell them that I understand that the work may seem too hard, or too easy, just not right. In the poem, the coach makes it clear that practice will be hard, but that they all have their eyes on the same thing: to win. If the boys at Guilford keep their mind on the endless possibilities of their future, the hardships right now won’t will just act as minor setbacks.
“Serving Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro tells the story of the Simpson’s who have made a program to help individuals who have had drug problems or were convicts. Galen Simpson is a chef who started a free culinary program by getting a grant from the Baltimore Community Fellowship program. His wife started her “own society fellowship to bring a literacy program to incarcerated mothers and their children”. Brock and Lewis who are the main two individuals talked about in the story were found from a local recovery program. The two now work at Simpson’s restaurant. Brock says she “feels valued” at the restaurant and is treated well. Despite any past decisions, Brock and Lewis are able to start fresh and feel important. The boys at school are well aware of their surroundings and some feel as though there is no point in putting hard work into their studies. This story is a success story. It is inspiring. At anytime the kids can change their fate and decide their future. There are no excuses; it is their choice, their responsibility, their opportunity.
Bharati Mukherjee displays the harm that occurs when decision making is taken away in the short story “A Father”. Babli is pregnant and Mr. Bhowmick is concerned that the baby will be born out of wedlock but is also excited at the thought of a grandson running around. Babli finally admits that her baby does not have a father, rather “a bottle and syringe.” Mr. Bhowmick lets her explain her opinion but does not take a second to think about his actions. He hits her stomach with a rolling pin. This rash decision changes everything in the family. It is vital for, not only the boys at Guilford, but everyone to think before they act. Decisions made can not only change their lives but the people around them. It was stated in a meeting with Acts4Youth that the students that Guilford is filled with three groups: for lack of better terms, the high, medium, and low students. The “high” students will be accepted into private schools, the “medium” students will go to Votech, get a simple job, and some may go to college. It is the “low” students that everyone must worry about. The leader explained to our group that a small amount of these will go to school and that the rest have to potential to turn in the wrong direction. It’s terrible to think about this. I find it hard to imagine the young, sweet, and social boys I’ve gotten the opportunity to know will go down the wrong path. What’s even worse is the thought that their decisions won’t only influence their life, but everyone around them, including me, you, the students that live in homeland, or the students who need to walk to CVS on a Thursday night. It is the brash decisions, for whatever reason, that can that ability to impact more than just one person. It is these decisions that deserve a second thought.
People reinforce the thought that hard work, determination, and faith can get you anywhere you want to go. It is more than that, it is the decision to work hard, be determined, and have faith that can change a future.
Event Analysis #5
March 21, 2013
The involvement of others has the potential to influence the way people go about making decisions. I found through several works of literature that this theme is common and yet different for each scenario. In “A Father”, the pregnant daughter is believed to have made the choice to have a child from the family’s move to America. For the poem “First Practice”, the speaker describes his coach’s demands to come out of the game winning. “Directions for Resisting the SAT” gives insight on how making your own choice is how you can succeed. The article “Serving Up Hope” shows how dramatically better the lives of two recovering addicts became when given a chance to work. All of these readings could be related to Loyola’s lecture event on Martin Luther King. The speaker at this event brought up the influence Dr. King had on the black community and how he was a major leader in ending segregation.
“A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee majorly supports the theme of how influences can impact decisions made. The character of the daughter named Babli had made the decision to have a child while unmarried or in any committed relationship. She chooses to do something that she knows is very much against her Indian family traditions. It is evaluated by the father of Babli that the reason for her irrational decision was due to the move to America. The culture that the family now faced was a far difference in what they were use to. The father feels that his daughter’s decision to have an illegitimate child would not have been acted upon had they resided in the familiar community within India. You can identify that outside influences may greatly change the way people go about their lifestyle.
“First Practice” by Gary Gildner expresses the strong desire a coach has to win the game. Reading the poem you may at first get the impression that the scene is of military men preparing for war. The way the coach talks to his players is demanding but yet motivating. He uses tactics to make his team aggressive by addressing the other team as, “…the man you hate most, in the world”. This will have an impact on the way his players perform in the game because they will have the mindset of using their “hatred” for the other team to win. Having the coach as this enforcer really brings about a positive power that the team may not have had to begin with.
“Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague speaks about the importance of making your own decisions in life. Having taken the SAT in high school, I understand the pressures that this test can bring. It was refreshing to see the SAT in a different way where in this poem the speaker argues that it is just a test and does not dictate anything. The speaker tells the reader to, “…follow no directions. Listen to no one. Make your marks on everything”. A statement as this could really change the way a student takes the SAT. Going through the exam with a relaxed mindset could possibly produce better results in the end.
“Serving Up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro is an article that tells the story of two individuals whose lives were greatly changed due to the kindness of others. Brock and Lewis were former drug addicts that were ready to make positive choices in life. Having a record as a former drug abuser can be difficult for finding a stable job however, Galen and Bridget Sampsen were thankfully open to accepting Brock and Lewis and their past. Allowing them to have such an active role in the café has helped them grow tremendously and prevents them from having temptations to abuse drugs again. Due to the fact that the Sampsens made it their mission to help these individuals, Brok and Lewis are able to live a life they never thought they would.
Attending the lecture about Martin Luther King, I learned how truly significant the influence of others can be. Dr. King was a powerful leader who fought for equal rights among the black and white populations. His wish was to live in harmony and he made it clear that that would not come easy. His leadership opened the doors for others to take a stand with him and take down the idea of segregation. With his motivation, a powerful difference was made and people’s lives mostly changed for the better. It was his persistence and support that brought about this change, which stands as a moment in history today. If this theme of influence can become a marking in history, it can also be seen throughout many of our everyday lives.
We may at times not realize the full potential one has to impact the life of another human being. Whether that be one person or millions of people, good or bad, it is strange to think that you could have that much of an impact over someone else’s decisions. Shown through our several readings, this can occur in many different ways and become a life altering moment.