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What Does Freedom Bring?

 

According to Merriam Webster, freedom is defined as primarily “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action” and is secondarily “a political right”. Americans are raised to bleed red, white, and blue, while sticking to the over-familiar, deep-rooted ideology. Because the United States of America was founded with the endowed principle of freedom, the word is ingrained into our minds, but few Americans stop to think whether we are a country of free people.

Freedom, by definition, is the absence of necessity. What comes to my mind, when that aspect of freedom is discussed is warmth without vanity. I picture pure content happiness, like when standing by a warm campfire on a summer night surrounded by those I love most in the world. The burdens of finances and material commodities that Americans take for granted are nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, those two desires are what fuel this country. In a land where independence is the key to life, the greedy population surely has lost the meaning of the term. Freedom and independence go hand-in-hand, but the need for material objects is what holds Americans prisoners to the never-ending cycle of the American Dream.

The absence of coercion is the absence of forceful persuasion and is also a key component to the establishment of freedom. Contradictory to definition of freedom, the political system of the United States of America is fueled by coercive diplomacy. According to Robert Art’s publication The United States and Coercive Diplomacy, “Coercive diplomacy is the ‘attempt to get a target, a state, a group (or groups) within a state, or a nonstate actor-to change its objectionable behavior through either the threat to use force or the actual use of limited force’.” Based on that excerpt, it is clear that The Unites States’ recent 2016 presidential election was not void of freedom-defying coercion. With two polarized candidates, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump enacted a plethora of diplomatic coercion, such as the promises of a large wall being built, deportation of immigrants, exposing sexual abuse, altering taxes, and playing upon the racist fears of Americans, in order to persuade each population to cast a ballot in a certain way. With the democracy that is supposed to empower the American people, the present political system manipulates the public into changing their voting preferences and behaviors, constraining their choice of action. This takes American freedom away.

The United States of America states in the Constitution that,

“Prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances”

This quote is the first Amendment of the United States Constitution and is one of the most practiced and yet controversial rights to the American people. While the patriotic population is encouraged to freely practice religion, portions of the American people criticize religions that are not their personal beliefs. For example, a vast group of the population lack trust and respect for the Muslim faith, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, many believers hide their faith, because of relentless persecution. For those people, the freedom to practice their religion was taken away from them. This prejudice roared its ugly head, during the 2016 presidential election campaigns, as one of the candidates, using diplomatic coercion, blatantly expressed their hatred and distrust for the religion and its followers. Thus, alienating Muslims on national television and adding to the hypocritical population that are not comfortable with other religions.  Not only do those that disagree with specific religions persecute others in the United States of America, but religious zealots also target those that life different lifestyles from them. The Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers, protesting the marriage of homosexual couples, and overall spewing words of hate to those that disagree with their views. In the national Constitution, freedom of speech is listed alongside the freedom of religion, but when the speech is alienating of the religion, neither practices are free.

From studying the written amendments of the United States of America’s backbone, and witnessing the actions of American society, is it clear that the definition of freedom has been lost in translation. Though Americans pride themselves in being a freedom-centered country, populations are taken slaves to the views and opinions of other Americans. From the structure of democracy, to the prejudices of the public population, the United States of America needs to rethink what it means to be free, in order to fully experience what freedom can truly bring to our society.

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Art, Robert J., and Patrick M. Cronin. The United States and Coercive Diplomacy. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2003. Print.

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

“The United States Constitution – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net.” The United States Constitution – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

Various tested Wikipedia sources

(ORIGINALLY A PAPER WRITTEN FOR A MORAL’s GEN ED CLASS)

Authenticity Over Greater Good

Throughout the history of humanity, morals have been a well-versed and disputatious debate that many philosophers fail to define. Philosophers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and John Stuart Mill, are prime examples of this debate. Sartre passionately argued the validity of the Existentialism, while Mill believed in the ethical philosophy of Utilitarianism. In the University’s “Being Human” class, taught by Denise Hatcher, the students studied and discussed the two philosophical concepts, in search of finding a moral consistency.

Jean-Paul Sartre lived from 1905 to 1980 and is arguably the best known philosopher of the 20th century. His career mainly focused on the development of Existentialism. Existentialism is a philosophy concerned with humanity finding itself through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Many of his publications argued the defense of his philosophical theory, because critics poked a plethora of ideology holes and approached his misunderstood jargon as contradictions. John Stuart Mill, who lived from 1806 to 1873, was an English Philosopher that held many focuses throughout his career. One of his focuses was Utilitarianism. Though he did not construct the philosophy, Mill expounded upon the ideology, by defining the difference between forms of pleasure and arguing that people who practice philosophy, benefit society more than those who engage in individualist practices for pleasure, which are lower forms of pleasure or happiness, because they are in search of educating the society of a “Greater Good.”

In Sartre’s publication “Existentialism is a Humanism”, he states “Existence Precedes Essence”, illustrating a mantra the philosophy follows, in terms of humanity taking authentic responsibility for the species legacy, through the actions that have transpired through our existence. This philosophy argues for authenticity, while Utilitarianism teaches that human morality is lined with the service to a “Greater Good”. As stated in John Stuart Mill’s publication “Utilitarianism”,
The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure. To give a clear view of the moral standard set up by the theory, much more requires to be said; in particular, what things it includes in the ideas of pain and pleasure; and to what extent this is left an open question. But these supplementary explanations do not affect the theory of life on which this theory of morality is grounded.…If utility is the ultimate source of moral obligations, utility may be invoked…There is no case of moral obligation where in which some secondary principle is not involved.

This excerpt presents utility as the basis of everything people desire and insists that moral actions are the actions that allow the greatest amount of utility to be experienced in the world. That is the concept of aiding the Greater Good. The overall difference between Utilitarianism and Existentialism is the argument of whether or not the individual or the society is valued more, to create a moral whole. Existentialism theorizes that morality is individual authenticity. Sartre’s Existentialism is founded on the importance of the moral individual, through the responsibility of each action a person chooses to portray. Mill’s Utilitarianism believes that the pursuit of creating the highest level of happiness in the society is what creates a moral humanity.
While Existentialism and Utilitarianism are different philosophical theories with varying centers of importance, they come together in search for the common goal of defining human morality. With that common goal, both theories can agree on what constitutes as immoral actions, such as murder or theft, though they contradict each other in nearly every other fundamental aspect, considering they take opposite stances on the debate of the individual creating a moral humanity or the society creates the moral whole.

Philosophers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and John Stuart Mill, are prime examples of the debate of human morality. Both philosophers dedicated their careers for the search of truth, in terms of the human moral dilemma. Though both theories attempt to answer the same question, Mill’s Utilitarianism highly contradicts Sartre’s Existentialism.

Citations
Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism Is a Humanism. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF.
Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF.

(Collegiate paper I wrote two semesters ago. Just thought I’d share with you all )

NOLOS 2017

So, a super cool thing happened today, guys. I was published for the first time today! It is a poem and photograph that was selected from hundreds of entries for the University NOLOS Literary Magazine. Though I am a few steps away from publishing my novel, this publication is my first entry into the public eye. It’s away big deal. Shout out to my mother for driving over away hour to get her own copy. Another shoutout to Robert for handling my ball of nerves and being there to support me at the NOLOS Launch party!

We need to talk and here’s 13 Reasons Why.

Image result for 13 reasons why gif

“Hannah Baker here, loud and in stereo…” (13 Reasons Why)

  1. The Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why” premiered on the streaming site as of March 31, 2017 (in celebration of Jay Asher’s 10 year old publication) and though it is barely a week old, the Netflix show has taken over social media and classroom discussions everywhere… WHICH IS GOOD. This novel needs to be talked about, because it is real.
  2. I’m not talking about the literature being of a true story. What I’m saying is, the events in the story are real. they happen.  they might happen to you, a friend you know, or some stranger at a party 3 years ago. BUT THEY DO HAPPEN.
  3. The cast was absolutely phenomenal. every actor took their role seriously, and it added to the “realness” of the story.
  4. High school is hard. People are mean, classes are stressful, students are just beginning to think on their own and feel emotions they have never felt before. While some get through it, some don’t. And one day you might hear over the loudspeaker of your freshman honors Spanish class that a kid you went to school with had committed suicide.I remember when that happened in my school. 
  5. I also remember feeling like Hannah Baker. I remember experiencing similar things and reacting similarly. I remember looking to others for a light that I couldn’t find on my own. and I remember feeling as lost and desperate and hopeless as she did.
  6. I also remember feeling like Clay…  and Jessica… and Alex…  I guess what I’m saying is that its real. Though, I’m sure those who haven’t experienced situations, or have only seen what they have seen, might disagree.  Which brings me to my next point. 
  7. “There are 13 sides to every story.” The show emphasizes “Hannah’s truth”, which conflicts with how other characters view the same stories she did. To me, that is extremely powerful, because again, its real. Every person will perceive a story differently and hold their own perspectives and views. BUT it is important to keep in mind that EVERYONE is entitled to their OWN truth.
  8. there are no degrees of badness.  if you do something bad, you do something bad. creating and fueling deprecating rumors is just as bad as isolating a person or raping them. Yes, I took those examples from 13 Reasons Why. The clan of bullies wanted to pin everything on the rapist, but they forget that even though they might not have physically violated Hannah Baker, they violated her soul and emotions.
  9.  Accountability is key… it is also a theme throughout the novel, of which there was a void of. Alex was the only character who remained accountable throughout the novel for what he did, even though it was stressful, embarrassing, and draining for him. For that, I applaud Alex.
  10. being a bystander to bullying is just as bad as being the bully. Clay learned that the hard way. I hope you don’t.
  11. The school emphasized the mantra “Suicide is not an option”, but as Alex pointed out, they shouldn’t be saying that. instead the schools should say “Bullying is not an option.” because if a person isn’t bullied so harshly, maybe they would not think suicide was an option to start with.
  12. Justin’s character brought light to the phrase “You don’t know what happens behind closed doors.” This is important, because everyone is struggling with something unseen. so be kind to one another.
  13. my last reason why is to restate something Hannah Baker said. it was the idea that when people look for signs of a suicidal and depressed person. its hard. sometimes you don’t see anything, because the sign is nothing.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideas or depression, speak up, get them help, and be a friend. Friends go a long way. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday

I have unearthed from my cozy rock.

I’m sorry for my hiatus, but sometimes its better to be under the rock, than having it thrown at you.  Recently, I have found myself at worn down that the stone Tuck talked about in Tuck Everlasting. I’m embedded in a flowing river and the everlasting current has worn my edges.

I’m not sure if it has to do with it being the final weeks of the second semester, or if it has to do with the two jobs i’m working, or if it has to do with the slow decline of my physical health from being an overworked college student battling the spouts of minimum wage, student loans, and the struggling addiction I have with the stationary section at my local Barnes and Nobles. (Sorry for that run on sentence. I’m a writer. I should know better.)

Anyways, it seems that the stress it eating away at my body. I can feel my head throb from background noise, video games, the LED screen of my laptop of which i’m using right now. I just want all the noise to quiet for a bit. just a bit. maybe just enough for me to clear my thoughts. I’d like that. Everybody is attacking each other all over the world… casting stone to those that they don’t agree with. From the small college campuses, to the large national entities, people are casting stones.

That’s particularly why I’ve been hiding under mine… Why you haven’t heard from me in a few weeks. (Well, that and every free moment I’ve been gifted post work, school, and more work… has been filled with sleep).

Anyways, I’ve been unearthed from my rock and am now motivated to work hard on myself, my book, my schooling, and basically everything I’v been putting off (including my blog)

So thank you for letting me sleep and thank you for letting me bitch. I’m back and ready to fill your screens with my lovely words of semi wisdom.

M