Humans are inherently evil, if the definition of evil incorporates acting only for self-benefit. True altruism is almost nonexistent, as it can be argued that every action is made in some way or another for personal gain. From the moment we are born, we act only in our own interest, and are conditioned by society to help others, as doing otherwise will result in exclusion. Even in extreme cases of charity or sacrifice, there is an element of shame associated with being passive, as well as promises of personal salvation, that often motivate people to help others. (I don’t mean to take away from the importance of a charitable community.) A prime example of humans showing their natural evil instincts is the Stanford Prison Experiment. In this study, subjects appointed as guards degraded and abused their peers appointed as prisoners within days, proving the human tendency toward chaos to such an extent that the experiment had to be immediately cut short. Current United States politics show a natural tendency toward self benefit as well. The current president elect runs on a regressive platform. He promises financial gain and protection for his voting base, but attempts to accomplish his promises by taking constitutional rights away from marginalized groups of people and making money via projects that damage the environment and use up nonrenewable energy sources. The majority of people who voted for him don’t actively want to hurt other people or the environment we depend on, but they value their own short term gain over the well being of other people and resources.
Do you ever hear gossip about someone identifying as heterosexual? Probably not. We’ve spent most of our lives watching TV and movies where the people falling in love were of the opposite sex, and hence we see a man and a woman holding hands without batting an eye.
The act of “coming out of the closet” is difficult for many people because they are first ashamed of who they are, and are afraid that they potentially may experience harsh judgments from the people around them, especially from their family. From personal experience, coming out to my friends was the hardest thing I had ever done. Although I had known them for many years, there is always that one small worry. Will they still like me? Will they think I'm weird? Luckily, when I decided to take this step my friends responded well. However, thousands of people who aren't received well end up taking their life because they don't get the support they need to move on and to accept who they are.
Society makes it seem like being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning is a horrible thing. In reality, it's not. That's just the way you're born and you can't change that no matter how hard you try. Although there are have been efforts throughout history to allow people to feel comfortable if they identify in one of the LGBTQ groups, it is not enough because people are still shamed about their identity everyday. Everyone needs to make the effort to accept or at least try to understand that someone who is part of the LGBTQ community is the same as any other person.
Let's start by being open minded about the people we have prejudice towards. Let's lend a hand. Let's give support. Let's end discrimination because any type of love is love.
Solemn souled yet face sorely smiling. Customs shared by the ones who do not bear to live, and who sit on the altar of the other's wants. Our soul not of ourselves I see, that had lost itself in the chromed steels of our screens, which we now resemble.
Let us expect that we can think, when we can't even look up, unneeded, into the lives of us, the privileged. The silver illuminated in our hands, which are truly hands of others, for they have shaped us past ourselves, numbed identities from the organic joys that the perfect child loved, not fearing, to the truncated squarities of the modern meaningless world, where common sense is laughed at, and truth seems a lie.
Exploit the ones that shed light! Those who do not feed the trendy beast are eaten. Let's tolerate those that tolerate back! Let's love the ones that earn it. Well the one(s) to whom we owe it do not live on the earth we think is ours. No person deserves the love we so desire to give and get, so there cannot be a conditional love.
History, and now, leave a choice: to observe an unconditional love, even for the ones that laugh at truth, or a hate, even for the ones that are overcome by the twisted foundations we unknowingly created. This hurt was certainly not on purpose! Remember the light shines brightest in the dark and we cannot bear it, by ourselves. Love the one that deserves it and love the ones that he loves. We are the same.
Adults have been acting like children, but not necessarily on purpose. The amount of ignorance I have seen lately is unbelieveable. Adults either choose to completely ignore something because it is something they don’t want to talk about, like a five year old facing punishment who is therefore ignoring their parents; or they simply don’t realize that something is actually an existing problem currently affecting people around the world, like a little kid still fully believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Many people say that ignorance is bliss, and while that might have some truth to it, as it allows you to ignore the brokenness in the world, it doesn’t allow you to mature and expand your mentality. It traps you, and blinds you from the perspectives of others. An example to this could be that many adults believe slavery to have ended a long time ago, when the thirteenth amendment was added to the Constitution, but sadly there are now more slaves in the world than ever before. Today there are an estimated 21 million slaves used for either their labor or body. Around twenty five percent, so a little more than 5 million, of the people forced into slavery are children. Theses facts are absolutely horrifying. Disgusting. Millions of people are stuck working in horrid conditions for no pay and with no way to escape. Maybe the reason for this problem is that many people choose to ignore the topic of slavery, whether it be out of ignorance or a lack of care and understanding. The simple fact is that it is our fault that slavery still exists today. We sit back, relaxing as we hear stories of immense suffering, and we don’t do anything about it. We acknowledge the tragedy, well at least some of us do, but we don’t take action. We sit back, waiting for someone else to take action, and don’t do our part to help end slavery. If we want forced labor to be abolished, we need to take action now. We have to inform our blind brothers and sisters that slavery is still a huge problem in our world today. We have to take a stand and fight on the behalf of those locked in the shackles of slavery. We have to help, we cannot continue to just sit and watch people suffer without a care in the world. The longer we sit and watch, the more people become affected. We have to inform people so that next year we can have less slaves in the world than we do today. So what can I do to help? I’ll tell you right now that there is no fast and easy way to end slavery. It is going to be a very long process. A first step can be to only buy foods and products that do not use slave labor. So leave the M and M’s and Snickers bars on the grocery store shelf and pick up a Divine or Endangered Species chocolate bar instead. Stop buying products that use slave labor, no matter how much you love the product. Most products that are properly sourced say so on the packaging, but if you’re not sure, look it up! In addition, don’t be afraid to talk about slavery. If the topic comes up in your history class or even just an everyday conversation with your friends or parents, don’t be afraid to talk about it! Don’t be timid and make sure you know your facts, so that you can help inform the world that slavery is still vast and complicated problem in our world today. Help rid the world of the thick, blinding fog surrounding the topic of modern day slavery. The more people we can convince to join the fight against slavery, the sooner we will see change.
On my tombstone, I want it to read: Here lies Natalie Hurt; loving daughter; renowned actress; female icon.
Much like Charlotte Bronte as well as Emma Watson, I want to use my art in a way that makes a positive difference on society, primarily on behalf of women. In sixth grade was when I decided I was as a feminist. Freshman year was when I started to fight for that cause by starting a gender equality club at my high school, which has grown and thrived throughout my four years. Since then, I’ve attended monthly Democratic Women’s Luncheons, meetings with the Santa Barbara Political Committee, and even spent October in Nevada, volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I plan to continue this commitment to social activist groups so that whatever mark I leave on this world, it helps to further increase female empowerment and gender equality with the power of my female voice.
People often judge or categorize others based on appearance or gender. For reasons that people may perceive as safety or awareness, or through very limited personal experiences, instinctually people make judgments and assumptions about the world and people around them. There is nothing wrong with this, and this is natural and a significant part of life and being human. There is something wrong with defining a person, however, without specific insight on their unique personality or facets of their life. Knowing another’s appearance, or gender, doesn’t mean you know the individual. I’ve been taught to try to not prejudge others and to try to know the individual person before making assumptions about who they are. Although many people believe this way, there are others who seem to believe in stereotypes and continue to perpetuate them and group others together.
Stereotypes are indeed fixed images or ideas, oversimplified generalizations, of a particular type of person or thing. Some believe in stereotypes and find them to be a truthful representations of groups of people or individuals. Stereotypes aren’t facts, although some may disagree by arguing that stereotypes may hold some “truth” to them. They are just ways to hurt, minimize, and simplify views of other people. Stereotyping is wrong, though some may say “not all are bad”, stereotyping constantly puts people in a box, a box with certain expectations, and preconceived perceptions that end up, not encouraging one to their true own potential, but replacing theirs with your own. One, two or even three, experiences, bad or good, with a person cannot be an accurate representation for all other similar type people or person.
I feel very strongly about the subject because I know this is wrong. Stereotypes, not prejudices, lead to racial profiling, gender profiling, cultural putdowns, and grouping of individuals. We want to wonder why there are so many hate crimes, by those who are racist, prejudice, homophobic, or misogynists? Words or spit, these people choose what comes out of their mouths. Hug or slap, they are in control of their actions towards others. Their mind is their own but their thoughts and images about, of those unknown, weren’t thought of completely on their own. It’s disgusting to see people get teased, bullied, ridiculed, feared, tortured, raped or killed, simply because of the fact that people can be so selfish, worried about their pride, or ego, that they don’t have respect to give, only to receive. They too often, don’t or won’t take enough time to become informed, about someone’s personality, culture, stories or history. Many people lack enough inner confidence, individuality, peace, and pure love, and respect that they are entitled to receive from themselves. This is sad, a fact, and a part of life, I suppose. One of these days though stereotypes shouldn’t have the power to control people or their live, shouldn’t be perpetuated or taught.
It's 2017, we the human race have to continue to make positive strides towards equality, that can be only shown by respect, freedom and true justice for all. Stereotypes are created when individuals are grouped together, sexes are belittled, and when cultures aren’t taught. Stereotypes aren’t facts. Fact can only be found out. Not assumed. Stereotypes are wrong and this is why I feel so strongly about them.
I got a letter in the mail. Who does that anymore? We live in a world of technology, a world that makes us self-aware. We are who we are and there’s no changing that but there are those around us that make us hate ourselves. They bring us down to go on up.
Shaken to the core is how I felt, this letter captured something inside. My heart, my soul, all belonged to the stranger of the words. A stranger who wrote his life on the pages of this letter. A stranger that loved a little too much. Get to know him and you will see.
This is his letter.
Dear Loved Ones,
I’ve gone crazy. It has been months since his death and I blame myself. He was my friend, my brother, my everything. I met him out of luck one march afternoon, hearing rumors of a kid nobody liked because of the demons he had. Pablo was his name, a kid bullied and hurt into fear, sorrow and despair. Broken from the start he was, there was nothing me or anyone could do. I was his salvation and he my doom. He entered my world with hopes of change, but none of the love I gave could be enough for he was on his way to his end.
The bullying continued and my love could not have shielded him. He became distant and I should have known the signs but attention was all that screamed in my head. I knew him better and thought nothing of the posts or pictures. They were all for show. I blame myself for his death for he was there for me and I, his brother, left him when he needed it the most. Attention he did not want, he wanted a savior and thought he had found it in me. He was wrong!
I left him to his demons and his demons consumed him. On the floor of his room, his sister found him, blood pooling around him like an old friend, awaiting his arrival. I see his face everyday and cannot live with what I did, which is nothing. I stood by his side, knowing something was wrong, and let him take his life.
I hate myself for killing my friend. I hate the world for being so cruel. He wanted to change but never given the chance. I tried but failed, which is why I cannot take it. Life is cruel and has taken my friend, my brother, my everything. I cannot live in this world that takes all the good and corrupts them. All the drugs and hurt could not have made me numb from the pain. I hurt and there is only one way out.
I’m sorry! I just hurt so bad.
I can’t bear to sign it but you know who I am. I say goodbye to you and to this world. It hurt me so bad I can’t bear to live.
Death was not his end for he lives on in the hearts of those he loved and loved him back. I was one of those people, lucky enough to meet them both. A friend awaiting their arrival. I hate to claim the lives of good people especially when it’s not their time. I plead with those who plan to end it, don’t do it. It breaks my heart every time I claim your lives. I have seen over time the rise of despair. The world seems against you but there is always love and hope that might save you.There is always an option when it comes to death.
I am death and plead for you to continue your lives. Remember that there is always hope in the darkness that surrounds you. Seek it and you shall find it. I want nothing more than to never come until it is your time.
As an economically fortunate individual with ‘hippie parents,’ the majority of my education has taken place in private schools consisting of people who possess unique personalities but similar backgrounds and mindsets to my own. My early childhood education began with Seasons Preschool: “Home of the Gluten Intolerant Flower Children.” Then, Waldorf School: “Home of the Wednesday Soup-Making, Silk-Scarf-Waving Finger-Knitters.” And finally, Orca School: “Home of the Biweekly Field Trip-Going Norse-God-Drawing Ukulele-Enthusiasts.” Not to mention the various supplemental summer nature camps which involved eating wild plants (but first identifying them and determining their “edibility”), hiking with a literal pet duck and hatching praying mantises in my family refrigerator. All of these activities and experiences, although considered unusual for ‘mainstream’ school children, eventually became a normal part of my educational routine, one that I learned to love and began to identify with.
Then, abruptly, in fifth grade, I ventured my first steps into the unexplored territory of the ‘very public’ Santa Barbara Charter School: “Home of the Class-Quitting Teachers Who Succumb to Emotional Breakdowns at Unexpected Moments.” I was in shock, plunged ruthlessly and repeatedly into the raging waters of mainstream education and social practices. Suddenly, I was surrounded by kids sporting cartoon graphic t-shirts and Ninja Turtle Heelys. Sights that resembled a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card greeted me every time one of my female classmates entered the room: purple ‘jeggings’ accompanied by a pink Disney character shirt. Overhearing boys’ conversations in the hallway lead me to believe I had entered a violent warzone. Daniel was passionate about snakes and HotWheels. Sabrina was a reincarnation of Dora the Explorer. Alexa was what we would later call a hipster. Chris was the class heartthrob (braces and all), and Tristan was an avid American camouflage fanatic. Together they comprised the clique leaders of my fifth grade class, and I alone did not understand them. I found Daniel’s repeated snake show-and-tell redundant. Sabrina was just way too optimistic. I could not comprehend why Chris and Alexa held hands at lunch while never speaking a word to one another, and Tristan’s love of camouflage gave me an unidentified disquiet that I would later discover to be caused by the views of the Republican party. I made friends, yet they only further instilled the feeling of confusion and resentment I felt towards public school. That year, during ‘fiber arts,’ I desperately soothed myself by knitting a heinous eight foot long scarf made of acrylic yarn which would have made my lambs-wool-loving, braided-armpit-hair teachers of past schools cringe.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014 during which I volunteered at Fairview Gardens’ Farm Camp. I love nature and (most) children, so I saw this as the perfect ‘Community Service Opportunity!’ For three weeks, I played with and basically waited on kids ages 3 to 11.
The 3 to 5 year olds were excitable, absent-minded, and without control of their bodies. Lucia obsessed over feeding the goats and occasionally peed her pants while climbing trees. Tana never managed to bring a fork (which I had to sprint across the farm to replace). Riley, Tana’s sister, brought exceedingly elaborate lunches that always seemed to exclude a water bottle (which I had to sprint across the farm to replace) and unfailingly corrected anyone who pronounced her sister’s name wrong, “Tay-nah!” Anthony wore light-up sneakers, had the world’s smallest bladder, the universe’s worst aim, and chose me as his loyal bathroom buddy. The girls’ renditions of the Frozen soundtrack set the goats on edge while the boys tormented the ladybugs and roly-polys to their breaking point.
The 6 to 8 year olds were talkative, captivated by simple activities, and had already begun to define themselves as individuals. Xander was a sensitive walking-encyclopedia type who only broke his constant stream of words to cry when his painted egg shattered. Luke looked like the beach on a summer day and was completely open and fully absorbed in any experience. Olivia, the adorable red-head, had grandparents who owned chickens and was a self-titled ‘chicken whisperer.’ They occasionally lost shoes or jackets, but they had the basics of fork ownership and water bottle care under control.
The 9 to 11 year olds were moody, unenthusiastic, and annoyingly confident in their certainty of personal preference and self-identity. Ben, the ‘bad boy,’ abused the chickens and the counselors in equal measure. Gemma arrived late for drop-off everyday and, after bawling and dragging her mom around for an hour, left the premises. Sienna was kind, but after being stuck in the bathroom for three minutes, proved that she had not mastered the art of bladder control and peed her pants. Vulcan despised crafts, crafting and crafters. He even detested the mere utterance of the word CRAFT. Before each activity he would question each of the counselors ruthlessly about the details of the project: “What are we doing? Is it a craft? Will crafting be involved? Do I look like a crafter?” We would respond mechanically: “No, Vulcan. We are doing a ‘project.’ This is an ‘invention.’ ‘Building art’ is involved. You look like a ‘constructor.’” Under this pretense, he would then complete the ‘creation’ suspiciously.
At the end of these long and exhaustive days on the farm, when the singing had ceased and the stream of pee had been stanched, I would retreat to the makeshift outdoor kitchen and methodically wash the dishes from that day’s cooking expedition. My brain drained and my body limp, I would ponder why I found these kids so hilariously intriguing. Why couldn’t they contain their urine? Why did they hate crafts? Why didn’t they treat insects with respect? Why wouldn’t they appreciate the unique and transformative outdoor experience they were being given? I searched through the diverse archives of my educational history for the answer: they were simply brought up differently than I was. This realization raised questions about my own self-labeled identity. I mean, who would I be if my name were Vulcan and I wore camouflage Heelys?
March 10, 2017
March 10, 2017