Thursday, May 28, 2009

The American Dream

I took a class in eleventh grade called American Literature:  The Pursuit of the American Dream.  The poor was her first year teaching, and of course the angelic Darby students didn't exactly give her the easiest of time.  So really I didn't learn a whole lot.  I'm still trying to figure out that the "american dream" is.  Yes, you can write a 9 page essay on a topic and continue to have no idea what it essentially is.

Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court by the President today.  The Vice President described her story as "incredible" and "summing up the american dream."  Sotomayor is truly a living rags-to -riches story.  It is encouraging to see that out of an impoverished an potentially hopeless situation she rose above and achieved a position even the wealthiest Americans envy.

Opthalmologist Steve Blaydes of the renowned Blaydes Clinic was born into money.  His father was famous for the development of modern-day cataract surgery and travelled the country speaking on his work.  Steve attended Princeton and graduated with a degree in Political Science.  After a year in Washington, Steve realized he was not happy in politics.  After volunteering in the medical field he decided to return to school to obtain his M.D. and work for his family's practice.  Today he is a hard-working individual who genuinely cares for each and every one of his patients and lives a quiet life with his family in a small town in Virginia.

My own father came from an immigrant household.  His father's family had immigrated from China shortly before his father was born.  His mother met my grandfather when he was stationed in Germany.  She was an orphan and returned to the states with dad's dad.  They divorced when he was a teenager, and dad had to deal with a torn family and cultural divides at a young age.  He went on to attend a community college, eventually going to VCU and Virginia Tech for his Ph.D. in Chemistry.  He is one of the most talented, intelligent individuals I know.  He works hard for our family who lives a comfortable, but not lavish lifestyle.  He hates his job.

What is the American Dream?  Is it coming from having nothing and poverty to immense riches and power?  Is it following in the footsteps of your family?  Is it working hard for no gain?  

When I think about the American Dream in terms of my own life...women are still pigeon-holed into the 1950's mentality of "I have to find a husband and have children.  Then my life will be fufilled."  Of course there are plenty of women who don't take this route and prove that there is freedom with lifestyle choice in today's society.  But the norm is still:
a.  Focus on looking good to attract men
b.  Attract man and charm him with wit and humor
c.  Marry man
d.  Have children
e.  Raise children.  Repeat
Sometimes I just don't know if that's what the American Dream is all about.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


"Do not judge or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eve?"

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eve and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Matthew 7

"For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it."
John 12:47

When will legalism and personal judgement be erased from the church?  Christians are called to be Christlike.  To follow the ways of Christ and strive to be like him, not to make their own rules and show disdain on those that do not live up to those standards.  Maybe Shane Claiborne is onto something....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Of little significance

I miss blogging for school...or rather I miss blogging and I think I'll enjoy it more now writing about things I enjoy.  Or perhaps things I think are funny, and of course random chance events that I hope to remember.  I'll probably post some of my older blogs that I actually took some time and thought to produce on here eventually.  I figured I should go ahead and get something started in order to document the summer, random projects, work and whatever else life throws at me.  Besides the fact that Doug is the bomb and I am trying to copy his fab idea :)  Hopefully I'll be able to hold myself to all of the plans I have for the upcoming year...I suppose whoever reads this -- along with my conscience -- will be able to scold me if I don't.

I have many thoughts to process including soccer moms, welfare, "the irresistable revolution," fitzgerald, adolescence, relationships, and underwear.  Just taking some mental (and physical too) notes for the future.  But this post will be a premise of sorts for my summer and personal growth and where I'm hoping to go.  I like to be goofy and serious.  One of my good friends in particular is a master of transitioning from light conversation to deep thought (and not the ones by Jack Handey) at the drop of a hat.  This blog might end up being like that or it might not.  In other words, I have no idea where I'm really going with this.

This past weekend was a great revival for me.  I went back to a leadership seminar I attended as a sophomore in High School to work and help out behind the scenes.  Friends of mine were running the seminar for the weekend and it was of equal or greater caliber to the program I went through three years ago.  The basic idea of HOBY -- Hugh O'Brein Youth Leadership, you'd be surprised how many kids coming there have no idea who Hugh O'Brien is-- is to show the future generations not what to think, but how to think.  Too often in life we are handed the "answers" to difficult questions on a silver platter, whether by a politician, parent, or person we respect.  We swallow them whole rather than taking the time and effort to form our own opinions.  I do it everyday, and you do too whether you admit it or not.  Yet much like the creed of the seminar, the manner in which we think is what needs to be changed.  
The past year has been unhinged and difficult and wildly fun yet complex.  Being on your own for the first time in one's life is an experience unlike any other.  Its difficult to decipher between the actions you take because they are truly what you desire and those decisions made because of the influence of peers.  Political Science class was a perfect example.  My passionately Obama-devoted left-leaning professor was not afraid to make his opinion loud and clear.  This could be traces of bittnerness leaking from the wound of not being offered tenure, but that's besides the point.  I was raised in a very conservative household, but didn't want to limit my view.  I wanted to give different ideas a chance.  I mean I guess that's what college is for, its pretty much the only time in your life when you can still be confused about everything and get away with it.  But what did that mean?  Did I eat up the professor's words and digest them into my own doctrine?  Could I do that yet still hold onto my own beliefs?  What is the ultimate truth?

The old cliche holds true, "If you don't stand for anything you will fall for everything."  There's nothing scarier than roaming around the gray area of uncertainty.  Sometimes its a place you have to be though, because if you don't go there you'll never reason what is truth, never be able to fully believe something because you know from research and analysis that it is true.  As a sophomore I don't think I was fully mature enough to understand HOBY.  Of course I had a blast doing the cheers and grasped the concepts of the motivational speakers about being your own person, doing what you love and are passionate about despite criticism or doubt you may encounter.  But now I realize that the Orwellian concept of mindless living is all too easy to fall into when one goes through the routine of life with no focus.  My challenge for myself this summer is to find focus and truth.  Figure out why I do the things I do.  Obviously I probably won't have it all solved :) and I'll probably do some more stupid things.  But I hope to get a little smarter before I got back off to Indy as a big bad sophomore.