Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be Educated? - Allegory Of The Cave

Every year, Susquehanna has an university theme that their summer common reading is centered around. The theme that I've been so lucky to come into school with is "What does it mean to be educated". At Orientation, we were all handed an anthology that promised to explore "how we learn from formal and informal educational experiences".

One chapter of the book is Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It is a dialog between Socrates and Glaucon in which they discuss the duties one who has escaped the cave has to his fellow brothers still in chains. Take this quote in which Socrates tells of what should be the State's goal with those who pursue an education:

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all - they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good;but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them do to as they do now.

What do you mean?

I meant that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labours and honours, whether they are worth having or not.

In short, Plato through Socrates is saying that yes, our leaders should and must encourage those that are after an education. That is needed. However, once they reach a certain point, they must then be made to serve the greater populous - those that remain in the cave, instead of completely leaving them behind.

There we have our first question: Those that become educated -whatever that may be-, should they be forced to partake in something that benefits everyone? Or should they be left to do as they wish?

I believe that more often than not, those that are clearly educated have a way of flocking to positions that have varying degrees of 'public service'-ness in the job description. Senators, presidents, judges, doctors, cancer researchers, teachers etc - of all of these, the best of the best have been awarded an education and it is their job to do what they can for the embitterment of everyone.

Of course, that is the general aim of such positions and I'm speaking in rather ambiguous terms here, but bear with me. Just looking at the words 'presidents' and 'senators' in that sentence above makes me laugh, but remember its more often than not. Hopefully.

Anyways, back on tract. I can't completely agree with Plato when he says that they have to be forced into such roles, but I believe that especially with a liberal arts education, most people have the Mensch, do gooder attitude instilled into them. I can't force people to give up their own happiness for the happiness of others - I feel like such a thing would cause resentment in some hearts that would then grow and jeopardize their performance.

Does this mean that I would allow for people to put their own happiness above the well being of others? Does that mean that those with the opportunity to gain seats of 'power' should be allowed to exploit that power at the cost of their people, much like we've seen throughout history.

Plato has something to say to this. A page or two later he writes:

Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and quietly governed , and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.


You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State... Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage, thinking that hen they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and the whole State.

He writes that those who have no interest in ruling will be the best suited for the job, and will provide order. Those that have an interest in ruling will only cause disorder because they want to jobs to serve their own goals and ambitions.

If I don't have an interest in something, no matter how much I know it is important, I'm likely to just not put effort into it and only do what is needed. I wouldn't go above and beyond for the people.

However, he does have a point about the others. I simply need to look at our own government to see what happens with officials are fueled by their own self-interests. Take the progressive hell that plagued the Albany the past month or so, take the retarded actions of the republicans during the 2008 election trail up to this very day. Order has gone out the window and progress is the true victim here.

So what would be the best solution? I'd be willing to wager that the answer lies in having a balance between duty and self-interest. You're own wants and needs shouldn't overcome your duty to your people, nor should you become a slave to them. This is also wherein lies the concept of wisdom - of knowing how to deal with both screaming fools at the same time.

And for what it's worth - Plato seems to be implying that only certain people should be taken and nurtured to fill positions of the such; of picking out those who you want to place into a special track of sorts. This goes against what everyone says America is all about - its the land where anyone can work their way up. And while this may be true, there is still the existence of that special track for *certain* people. It is possible for those not on that path to find their way to it, but its only makes things harder. Thank you life chances.

I'll conclude with one last question: Should our elective officials be wise? Keep in mind the hell Ms. Sotomayor has gotten in the past week for calling herself a 'wise latina woman'. I'll give you a minute to answer that question.

Tick, tock.

You done? Good. You should have answered with a resounding 'Hell to the yes!' or something of the sort. If you didn't, well, I'll let you ponder your own silliness. Now go sit in the corner till I'm done.

Of course I want my officials to be wise. I'm trusting them to make deicisons that impact all of our lives and while wisdom is a attribute gained through one's life experiences (unlike what some would want you to believe otherwise) wisdom is still wisdom. Wisdom is knowing where to come to a compromise that actually gets something done. If you can't do that, if you won't be willing to hear other ideas and take them into account, if you will say 'no' as if its your magic wand for getting what you want, then sir/madam I want you off the stage. Just leave. I've lost all my patience with such people. Granted, doesn't that (in someway) make me as narrow minded as they are? Yes, I do believe that argument can be made, but at the same time, I don't care. What I care about (and what others should care about as well) is finding how we can make life better for all.

After all, shouldn't that be an end goal of education? Making life better?

And if I banished you earlier, you may come back now from your timeout in order to discuss this with the rest of us. Just remember to behave yourself. Or else...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Favorite Pic of the Day

A Stain on SOF Pride

Within the past week, there have been ny times articles highlighting the arrests of two of my fellow classmates.

Let me start by saying that this is a source of shame for the rest of us. Facebook has been lit with condemnations towards both individuals - none of us expected such behavior from them.

That said, here at links to both articles:
Teenager Is Arrested in May Starbucks Bombing
Manhattan Man, 19, Arrested in Anti-Gay Robbery Attacks

Looking at both cases, I'm not sure what I'm more shocked from. First of all, a bomb? At Starbucks of all places! What did the mocha guy behind the counter run out of mocha so you decided to blow up the place? And where the hell does one even get bombs? I understand guns and knives but a bomb (whatever the strength) is a whole other ballpark. I would go on, but the other things I want to say would get myself in trouble, and I don't need that.

And as for the anti-gay robbery, considering he went to such a liberal school that tolerates just about any and everything, I don't get this. He never stuck me as the anti-gay type (nor did the other guy strike me as a 'terrorist', so obviously I suck at this). As I read the article, I kept trying to recall any form of hostility towards them during my short and often air-fulling conversations with the boy.

As I said earlier, we are all disappointed in those two and collectively shake our heads saying "Those damned fools" under our breaths. If you're going to screw up, don't end up in the nytimes for god's sake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Micheal Steele. This Time, With Chicken

This has been circling around a bit, so I figured you lot should hear about it as well.

First and foremost, I will not be won over with fried chicken. Knowing you, you've likely laced the chicken with something that will actually make your damn rapping make sense.

Now why does he think that fried chicken would help him, after he was made King Rush's erm, um, pet? I don't think there is enough chicken in the world to make the masses of black folk forget that. (Unless, it was he who came to the rescue that day when a Popeyes had run out of chicken. That was just bad...)

And why should he stop at chicken? What about pig's feet, kool-aid, and yams. He might as well make it a whole banquet. Perhaps he can get people so stuff off of food, that he can then say "Hey, you all now owe me a favor". That may be his only hope.

Favorite Pic of the Day

I didn't say it. I'm just putting it out there.

A Little Mumbling About Race

Thanks to my currently being unemployed, I've had a lot of time to simply stay at home and read. For a number of months now, I've been intrigued by the thought of looking for a site where 'black intellectuals' - for what that term is worth. A friend of mine (black as well) recently said to me "but isn't that an oxymoron?" - may gather and converse. Granted, I didn't find a site that had fit all the parameters I was looking for, but what I did find may be of more weight.

I stumbled upon blogs and news sites galore. All of this has made me realize that race is likely the topic that most excites me and my sociological studies.

In the age of post-Obama politics, race is *still* an issue. Anyone who says otherwise is a poor, misguided fool. Hell, it seems like now even more than ever, people involved with politics are repeatedly showing their true racist colors. As far as I'm concerned, Race will (at least for the considerable future) always be an element that one must be mindful of. As I get ready to move to Central Pennsylvania, I leave with that premise in mind.

That said, I intend to keep up with these sites - they offer a little more of a window into other issues.

Yes, A 'Wise Latina' Is Just What The Doctor Ordered

I'm sitting here in my arm chair(a rather comfy one, mind you) watching Sotomayor hold her own against the Senate, simply marveled by her performance. I can not see how anyone who has half a working brain - and there are a lot of people out there who don't - wouldn't want her to serve as a judge. This woman is able to talk with such skill and flow that I can't but be charmed by her.

Yet, we have that damn 'wise Latina' comment keep popping up. Why is there this line between white political candidates promising to help people of non-white origins out and non-white political candidates promising to help others like themselves out at all? Is all this fear that they would help the affirmative action agenda go too far in this country?

I do believe that her being a Latina will bring something a little extra to the Supreme Court. One's life experiences can not help but be present and influential when doing anything in life, much less applying law.

It is evident that the end result of her education, experience in law, and what she has seen in life in general has indeed made her wise. Just watch the women as shes on the plank. Look at what we get when figures who have opportunities at positions of power are unwise to say the least. We get Palin, Steele, and a slew of others that make me have no hope for where this country is going.

I want these people wise. I want these people to come together from different backgrounds in order to make decisions. Quite frankly it scares me when one group - especially one who's every ideals are rapidly losing ground yet ferociously (and foolishly) defend them - wants to keep the idea pool collectively monotone.

But of course, only time will tell whether she will be appointed or not. Good luck, Sotomayor - I look forward to hearing the good news in the future.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The 11th Hour

Ever thought that the grass would be greener on the other side on the fence, but then on your way over, you start to realize you're not as interested as you once were?

Perhaps that's how I'm currently feeling about going off to college. In this 11th hour - as the days keep rushing to August 27th - I find myself not all that excited as I originally was.

Take for example, the fact that I'm done with high school. I thought I would bask in the glee of graduation but instead, I feel no different. There is no sense of 'OMG! I can't wait to get out of here' as I've seen in my friends.

There are two things about college that I'm looking forward to: The topics I'll explore and graduation. I get to fuel my readings and reflections on race and it's ramification and if I'm able to stay within the honor's program, I will graduate cum laude. At least. This will hopefully put me in a great position to reach the goals I have for after graduation, but more on those later.

I think, that after a week or two at Susquehanna, I'll get more excited. For now, it shall remain some far off distant reality.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin 2.0

It just keeps coming back. Oh god, we can't kill it! WE'RE GONNA DIE!

Seriously, didn't we get enough of her the first time 'round?

I guess not since it appears shes positioning herself for something (2012 anyone?). Now seeing how much political hell has broken loose, I'm a bit paranoid. My friends say we have nothing to worry about - that she made enough of a fool of herself so shes a goner. But, with the Republicans and their cohorts looking for some kinda of face to tie to their brand of bull, she might just be want they need. She might be the one to organize their rhetoric and drive them back to the White House in 2012.

Just thinking about that possibility makes ill. I've been hoping for someone within the party to get their people back in shape, but that is looking more and more like a pipe dream. Should by the grace of the devil himself allow her to even be a contender for 2012, I'm not so sure I want to be around to see the result.

Now where's my passport?

A Pro-Choice Stance

Abortion has gotten quite a bit of press in past months, thanks to a late-term abortion doctor being gunned down by a pro-life fanatic (ironic, no?). As much as I normally would like to avoid taking stances on certain topics, I do think its about time to me sort out my own feelings on the issue.

To put it clearly: I am pro-choice.

Does that make me morally incorrect? Perhaps more likely to being shot as well? Or is it that I'm relatively safe until I start being one to actually perform an abortion.

My train of thought is simple: As a male, one who gets rather sickly when he contemplates anything childbirth related for too long of a time period, how dare I turn on the American female population and demonize their right to do what they feel is right for themselves. No one should be able to control others' desire to control their life as they see fit.

Should someone one day come to me and regulate who I choose to have a child with, when I want to have that child and so on, I would have to tell them where to get off. I know full well that if I don't want to have my reproductive freedom taken away, I can't do the same to anyone else - a nice application of the "Do on to others what you would have them do on to you" rule.

Even the argument of late-term abortion I find to be a silly extreme that must be laughed out of validity. Who do you know would seriously carry a child - would allow another being to share in her existence - only to then decide months before birth to back out of her commitment. Late-term abortions are usually none when there is very little hope for the well being of those involved. People are, for the most part, creatures of morality. Those who are willing to do a fairly brutal process without due cause are a rarity. No argument should be contingent on such a unlikely prospect.

Finally, I close with this: While I do believe that life is something worth protecting, I am much more focused on the lives of those who are already here. They are more tangible, and in much more serious need of help. If you only set out to insure those on their way to this world safe passage, but let the mothers - their entrances become slaves to your beliefs and ideals, whats the point of protecting the newcomers? In due enough time, they will likely follow the mothers' fate.

Where have I been?

Indeed, where have I been?

The short answer: I've been around, just living life.

Since we last spoke, I became a high-school graduate, traveled down to DC for NECC, and attended orientation at Susquehanna.

Now where have you -the world- been since we last spoke? Micheal Jackson and a slew of others past away, all hell broke loose in Iran, and Palin stepped down from her post.

Amazing how times flies, no?

Everything and everyone changes. As I try to keep up - to take note of as much as possible, I see more and more that I need to use this place for what it was meant to be: a nice little corner of the web for my thoughts. Its about time I stop neglecting it so much.

So, more blogging is on its way. Let us rejoice in the stream of words!