Wednesday, March 22, 2006

soul searching discussion

let me start by saying that i thought today's class was one of the best discussions we have had all year. also, let me apologize if i came off as challenging people's opinions. that was not my intent. all i was doing was trying to get people to understand the background and everything else that went into Kristen's life. I kind of felt like people took that the wrong way.

so anyway, the question that Dr. Rein presented at the end, about whether or not we were disturbed about Kristen raised a question in my head. Dr. Rein said that he was disturbed that this girl was so shut off to the rest of the religious realm and was so intent on her way or no way without even really knowing what she was believing in. This is where I ask: is it better to believe in something whole-heartedly or not to believe at all? This is the situation I feel that so many teens are presented with. Being that it is taught to many people growing up, that if they want to do something or achieve something, then they need to go at it with all they have. Kristen simply was put in a very difficult situation at a young age and was provided with few options. She could have gone Joy's route and done drugs and not believe in much or she could have picked something to believe in and get over her father's suicide by being devoted to her family and her religion. I don't know many people who would choose their son or daughter to go the route that Joy went. Of course, there are other options, but I don't see what is so wrong with a teenage girl believing in something whole-heartedly and living a happy, fulfilling life after the tragedy she had to go through. I think there is some point in everyone's life where they must reflect upon themselves and think 'what is it exactly that i believe.' I think that Kristen still has that opportunity, just the teenage years were not the right time for her to do that. How many of us did that when we were 13-17? My guess would be not many. But in college and when we learn more and are out making our own decisions, I feel this is when we can truly reflect and establish what we believe. Kristen had set a goal and went after it and she is doing great. She is not being shortsighted or anything like that, she is a teenager that is happy with herself and is achieving what she wants to achieve. She will reflect one day. But there is nothing wrong with the path she has chosen for herself.

Monday, March 20, 2006

a slightly new opinion on eck

after completing Diana Eck's book, i have a slightly new outlook on her. After the first 4 chapters or so, i saw the book going nowhere, simply being an extension her pluralism paper we read earlier. her chapters on hinduism and buddhism and islam took forever to read as all it did was point out what existed, what was out there and gave no opinions or suggestions on the topics. But after completing the book, i found out her goal from these chapters was to give a long, extremely long, background and knowledge of what exists in the United States today. I thought this was simply a longer version of her pluralism project paper that we read earlier. However, then her chapter "afraid of ourselves" changed my opinion. Her goal started to unfold a bit and i began to see some of her own opinions coming out for the first time in all of her readings. I saw her telling of the problems existed because of these various religious foundations in the United States. She told of how we are scared of difference. We are scared of change. We are a nation founded on difference, we are the United States of America. However, we fear not knowing about other religions and what that may mean for society. We fear change of what we have known our whole lives. We stereotype those different from us and label them. The result of this is hate crimes and violence. Her tone suggested this saddened her. That we built such a glorious nation, so accepting and diverse on the outside of various religions and their institutions, but deep down on the inside, it frightens us and we react in an immature manner.

Her "bridge building" chapter was a chapter offering hope for the future. She outlies a plan, her opinion of a plan, in order that we may change these prejudices and stereotypes. Talking and negotiating and finding what is best for the whole community is a prime example of one of her solutions. Acceptance and knowledge allows us to become a new America, an accepting America. She suggests building upon our differences instead of ignoring them and acting upon them harshly. We cannot ignore our differences, but we need to build bridges so that we can connect on our differences. This is the only hope that we have for developing as a nation and fulfilling our title as the land of hope. She focuses on our differences and how we need these differences to be acknowledged in order to build. And she is right.

However, I feel education is the most important way to go about this. If our children are educated, and parents are educated as well, then the youth will not learn hatred and violence. It's like the 5 year old that doesn't know shes playing house with a black boy, she thinks she's playing house with a 5 year old boy. We need to get to that stage, and I feel the best way is through education. If some of the concepts are not taught, such as that there are people different from us and that that is ok, our nation cannot grow and will not be accepting. This is the best foundation I can come up with to build the sturdiest bridge possible. And my hats off to Eck, for giving an opinion of her own. A new found respect from me, slightly. I think I could conclude better than her, although I believe we are suggesting solutions along the same lines.