September 13, 2007

“Creative Solutions to Life’s Challenges”

Frank X. Walker launches his written endeavor in firm belief that “what we often call survival skills is simply creativity at work.” Reminiscing about his childhood growing up in a financial pinch, he mentions his mother’s creativity in the kitchen, her make-shift toy construction, and expertise behind a sewing machine in support of his opening statement. He then draws inspiration from memories of a childhood art experience he had at the neighborhood Baskin Robbins ice cream shop to earn free ice cream, which led him to follow up with the belief that creativity in any form is a major determinant of our happiness and outlook on life.

I chose this essay because I also believe that creativity is a powerful asset to our existence and survival. The majority of the argument is structured around his background, coming from the projects, where creative expression took on a whole new meaning. His mother always told him that “idle hands and minds were the devil’s workshop,” fully living up to her words. From her career in the floral and interior design industry to the delicacies concocted from what little resources she could afford to feed seven children, she is the definition of “creativity at work.” He stressed that “every day, our streets and school buses become art galleries in the form of perfectly spiked hair, zigzagging cornrows and dizzying shoelace artistry.” The style of Frank’s word choice really strengthens his argument because it is unique to his persona. Towards the end of the paper, a piece that ties in with creative survival techniques involves his past as a victim of bullying. Walker used the power of words as his weapon to get past the situation rather than violence.

Walker’s essay relates to the issues and concerns of our class because just as art and creativity have a very broad definition, public life entertains many roles in which we craft our own means of day to day operation. It does not matter whether we are at the height of civic engagement, or just an average citizen; what matters is that we are comfortable in our own skin and can live for the moment without getting caught up in the pressures of today’s society.

September 14, 2007

This I Believe ANALYSIS: Respect for Gay Americans

The author simply states that he believes that in the end (whenever that may be); the respect for gay Americans will prevail. He relates our struggle to minorities such as women, and even ethnic minorities. Whether we like it or not, the author states that there will be fights involved in gaining this respect—from family members to friends and even to religion. He believes that his fight is not only within himself, but for equal rights and appreciation in society. However, in the end, he states that regardless of what happens in society, if he has learned to love himself then he has prevailed.
I chose this essay because being a gay American; it hit close to home and made perfect sense to me. This essay made me see that it doesn’t matter what happens in society, but as long as I love myself for who I am, then I can proudly lead a successful life. Don’t get me wrong; the ideas of gay marriage and adopting a child becoming 100% legal in my lifetime would be a glorious victory for homosexuals. However, what the author is trying to say is that it doesn’t matter if it happens in our lifetime, our children’s lifetime or our grandchildren’s lifetime. What matters most is how you handle it personally.
He makes his arguments on a down-to-earth level. I view his tone as life like and not preaching. I do not see him as trying to tell us what to believe but rather he clearly states his opinions in a friendly manner which to me gets through to the reader better than preaching to us. It makes us think about our society and what we value. Setting one’s beliefs aside, after reading this essay I feel that the reader will be more open and understanding with the idea of equal rights for all.
This essay most definitely pertains to our class—specifically the title: “Literature in Public Life.” Especially in today’s society, equal rights for gays is a major topic. How can such a topic be more public? It is a struggle we see in society every day whether we want to or not. The author feels strongly about this topic and after reading it, I feel even stronger than I did before.

The Power to Forget

James’ explanation of “The Power to Forget” immediately caught my attention considering most people seem to view forgetfulness as neglectful and may even define it as a cowardly characteristic. Conversely, James describes his father’s murder and why the need to forget is essential in maintaining sanity and continuing everyday life. Arguments are made based on the practicality of the difficulties of forgiveness as well as the desire for revenge. James makes references of his opposition to the common public literature theme of killing and revenge. He also demonstrates the minority perspective, an aspect to always have in mind when discussing public life.

While many may expect the tone of this essay to be revengeful due to an unjust killing, James’ tone is not bitter, but optimistic. He is accepting of the fact that hatred cannot be in command of his life. “I have tried my very best to forget him. It was that, or succumb to the hatred that threatened to define my life.” James effectively makes the distinction between the popular literary theme of revenge and his own belief. This tactic is very effective because it expresses the clear strength of having a minority opinion. In the last paragraph James uses a series of questions to create the reader to reflect about his overall healthy perspective on life. “How often have more people had to die because of a fixation on a memory?” He also refrains from using “I” and begins to use “we” in order to see the overall picture and make the reader feel included. “How much better would things be if we could just clean the slate, forget the offenses we've suffered and the ones we've inflicted, and move on?”

Anger is a common response that consumes the lives of those who have suffered, and I believe the power to avert ones self away from those feelings is where James is able to use and completely justify the term the power to forget. I chose this essay because I was able to parallel the importance of being able to forget with the events in my own life. I experienced tragic events as a child that could have impaired my life forever without my ability to forget.

This I believe analysis by Adam Herron 336 words

The article I chose talks about the importance of education for our democracy. The man writing it is a university professor. He recalls when he was a child wondering why they had to say the pledge of allegiance every morning. Then when he grows up and has his first child go off the elementary school, he remembers these questions he had. He realizes how much is left up to the educational system to teach our children. He believes the educational system should speak more about the value of education, that is a big part of our democracy, in schools. He thinks that students should make a promise to value their education and to use their knowledge. This article relates education to democracy, using education as the base of democracy.
I chose this essay because it does relate directly to our class. It is about democracy and education, both being public things. He does not demand anything, he only gives a constructive statement, or pledge. I believe the way he speaks in this essay is very powerful, but not forcing anything. He is just suggesting that we teach children the value of education, and I completely agree. The way he writes is not aggressive or persuasive even. He is just expressing his ideas/views.
He makes arguments by using examples. He talks about the shirt his son was wearing and how he felt when his son went off to school. Any parent can relate to this article. He speaks to the reader, telling him or her to remember their first day of school. Then he leaves his idea for a pledge, his constructive statement:
"I hereby pledge,
To secure and pursue,
With civility and humility,
To openly explore and critically evaluate,
Ideas and knowledge,
For a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world."
Education is very important, and many kids are forgetting that. His essay is a powerful one to me because I stand by his opinion and I believe it suits our class discussions fairly well.

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"This I Believe" Analysis: Life's Simple Lessons

The story of Buster embraces the simplicity of life while drawing attention to the complexity of it. Fred, the narrator, shares with us the pure yet profound lessons his dog taught him about life. Dogs by their very needy nature, teach us responsibility. For ten years, Fred learned these lessons, walking Buster come rain or shine and tending to his basic needs. In return, Buster gave Fred unconditional love, allowing him to share all his thoughts and feelings in full confidence. But the depth of what Buster gave Fred didn’t really surface until Fred got older. Through his adult years, Fred married, had children and battled the challenges of the work world. He notes that he recognized the dog-less people merely by their ineptness and irresponsibility. Buster gave Fred the tools he needed to survive and perform as a responsible adult. And yet, Buster left Fred wanting something more—something different. Fred longed for what Buster had—the freedom to live life “beautifully, innocently, and completely irresponsible.” In Fred’s attempt to enjoy some of what Buster had, he lived life to the fullest.

The sincerity of Fred’s writing pulls the reader in. I felt connected though I knew so few details about this man. His writing was not perplexing, provocative or contrived. It was pure and simple but with an ultimate message that left me thinking about my own life and the things that have shaped me. This class teaches us to analyze stories and determine the issues and conflicts that shape lives and values. This essay makes one think critically about the meaning of life. It teaches us the importance of living life right and responsibly while smelling the coffee and relishing each moment. Using examples and repetition with a positive tone, Fred invites us to ponder the idea of learning our lessons in life from something as simple as a dog. His genuine tone and relatable nature delivers the message with purity. He captures the beauty in things that might be considered negative. The eighth paragraph fools us, using an ominous tone, yet it serves only to show contrast with the next paragraph where he wraps it all together by stating his love for his teacher—Buster.

Whether our lessons are learned from, places, people or creatures, they result in shaping us as a person. When an essay compels me to ponder my own life and how it relates, then I know I’ve experienced something impactful.

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Analysis to "The Careful Cultivation of Belief."

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"George Bush is to Christianity as Osama bin Laden is to Islam" This I Believe...

“George Bush is to Christianity as Osama bin Laden is to Islam.” Does that statement grab a person’s attention? It got mine while searching through the “This I believe” entries as I was trying to find something to spark debate and foster learning from one another. Author, Theresa, believes that God is not prejudice which is the opening statement of her entry. She compares the human cosmology of the world to a quilt, in that God doesn’t care about which part of the quilt we all come from, instead, we contribute to the quilt rather than turn our backs to it (one another).

This essay; undoubtedly has the potential to become controversial. Considering the lengths right-wing Christians have gone to, to get their message out more purposely, especially during the current Bush Administration, it seems. This entry is an example of current mainstream rhetoric or literature in public life. The Bush Administration (not to exclude like-minded politicians) and their tactics of using Christianity to justify the rational of their decisions are rancid in all forms of media today. These decisions that are made on behalf of the people are smeared with conflict of interest at the expense of the American people. The author uses the analogy that the “celestial cloth” (quilt) of America is now “nothing more than an oiled rag.” Those who benefit, are George Bush “and his favorite 10 cronies” who have deemed themselves entitled to “90% of the world’s wealth.”

The author states that the ultra-right Republican Christians are as equally extreme in corruption of the teaching of Christ as Osama Bin Laden is to the teachings of Islam. Documentaries such as “Jesus Camp” further support this opinion. Jesus Camp Trailer - YouTube

I dare to go on to say that with leadership such as the current Bush Administration only adds fuel to the fire of Christian bigotry and hate towards fellow Americans and throughout the world. In the reading, there is acknowledgement in that Americas have basic ethic. If only that ethic could be propelled by someone of stature, such as the “Leader of the Free World.”


Figuring It Out On My Own

Bela Fleck approaches life with an individualistic mentality. He believes in figuring out his own way of doing things. In his essay Fleck references his grandfather; Opa who he feels his “bone-headed nature comes from.” In describing his grandfather, Fleck states that Opa never attended college yet was still a very successful man. He contributes his grandfather’s success to his ability to determine how to do things unconventionally. One example that Fleck uses in describing this attitude is after his grandfather died, several realtor's tried to sell his house, but Opa had developed his own form of plumbing that no one was able to figure out. Ironically the plumbing lasted for several years even though it did not pass building codes. Fleck then connects his inability to conventionally approach the banjo, to that of his grandfathers plumbing. Fleck doubts if his “banjo playing would pass codes.” Although Fleck expresses reservations in his ability to play the banjo he then finds inspiration from his grandfather’s success which allows his worries to dissipate. Fleck then suggests that by approaching life in his own way has allowed him to produce music that will last, just like his grandfathers plumbing.

I chose this essay because I feel that the only way of approaching life is through ones own experience. Fleck’s utilization of storytelling strengthens his writing and allows him to connect to the reader. Using his grandfather as his main example Fleck gives his writing a sincere tone. Flecks word choice draws the reader in, and allows one to feel more connected to the story. In some ways it allows the reader to associate their own life with that of Bela’s. Flecks unconventional methodology gives hope and allows one to let go of the insecurities that life encompasses and allows for creativity.

Fleck’s essay relates to the issues of our class because very often in public life we try to mold ourselves into a conventional approach to handling life’s problems. Fleck shows that the only way to truly understand the complexities is to throw out the manuals and figure things out on our own.>

This I Believe "What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger"

This I believe, “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”. This conclusion was come to by a woman through her experiences with alcohol and the effects it can have on everyone. She had started drinking at a young age and became what many would call an alcoholic. She continued to drink until she was 41. The presence and realization that she had a daughter to take care of helped her stop the horrible habit she was addicted to. Not long, about three years, after she had become sober she experienced a tragedy. Her nephew had died in a car accident. An accident caused by alcohol. She fought the urge to deal with the grief and the amount of guilt that she carried for setting such a horrible example by hiding behind a state of drunkenness. She managed to make it through the rough times without drinking. This experience has made her more compassionate and sympathetic to others, and has made her think a lot more about the saying “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”. She has felt the realization of the first four words of the phrase, but has also lived the last five.
I chose this article because of the connection I have to it. Growing up I have seen close up the effects that alcohol can have on not only the individual, but their family and friends as well. It is a large problem facing America and has been for a long time. Although this is such a large problem many look over it until it hits them in full force as it did for the lady in this article. Also the phrase “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger” is a phrase that is thrown around quite often that the meaning is often lost. This article makes you think strongly about the truth of the phrase and the realization that things can kill us.

This article has a very important message in it. The writer makes her argument very well. She gets her point across without sounding to forceful or like she is lecturing. We all will hear “do not drink and drive” so many times in our life we probably cannot even count. Hearing the repetitiveness of this we start to just brush it off and not take the advice to heart. In this article, although, the message or argument is just as direct as just stating “don’t drink and drive” but has a stronger effect being inside a story of someone who has lived such a horrible experience.

This article relates to this class because alcoholism and drinking and driving are a huge problem facing the public. It has become worse and worse over the past years. Even with many attempts to have stronger DWI enforcement and all the classes that are provided for alcoholics and their families, the problem still exists. This is a problem that faces all of the public from day to day. Many do not realize, although, that this problem can affect them greatly every time each person gets in a car they are at risk.

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Anaylsis to "Failure Is A Good Thing"

Jon Carroll, an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle writes his “This I believe” essay with his beliefs on the act of failure. He describes that failure is a good thing; it is how we learn and how we grow as individuals. This concept of failure is often described in a negative tone. What Carroll does with this essay attempts to persuade his reader that in fact, failure is good. He uses the example of cooks in the kitchen, cooks who have many broken pots are the ones who have experience, and if you have been in the kitchen enough to have broken a pot, it shows just how much you have worked to improve your skills.

Carroll’s perspectives caught my eye within the first paragraph. He takes a negative term “failure” and produces logical thoughts and examples to turn the ideology into a positive one. He wishes his granddaughter success on her first day of kindergarten; he then explains that he actually wished that she would fail, because failing is how we learn. This unique belief is something that most people would often overlook. If we do something over and over, we become good at it. However, there comes a time where this act becomes, boring. Switching things up and trying new things (with the anxiety of failure in mind) can be uncomfortable yet beneficial. Trying your best to do something is good, but failing teaches you how to do it better the next time. If you are good at something the first time, what is the need to improve it?

This idea of failure can shape American citizens into outstanding components of public life. If we all were scared of failure, we would not attempt to step outside our boxes and try to achieve success. Success is only awarded to those who are not afraid to fail.

Carroll’s essay enlightens us with the fact that “Success is boring. Success is proving that you can do something that you already know you can do… Failure is how we learn.” And when we try to fail it is in fact better than never having tried at all. So while we may be fixated on the anxieties of failure, we must remember that those in life, who fail, are the people who changed the world for the better, and in turn, become the most remembered and successful people of our history.

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Opinion vs. Belief

What is a belief? In this essay Emily states that, “a belief is just and opinion until it’s been tested and challenged, and even then it takes the knowledge of all sides of that idea to make the belief strong and complete.”

She metaphorically relates a belief to a tree. The leaves are the ears absorbing knowledge allowing the tree to grow. The branches that grasp the leaves bear the weight of that knowledge and break when the wisdom is faulty. The trunk is the part of the belief that is exposed to people who challenge and sometimes try to cut down. Only if the tree has embedded its roots deep into the Earth can this belief survive generations.

Within this essay, Emily never states what any of her opinions or beliefs are. I feel she does this to only stress the fact that many people feel they have strong beliefs. Only some of these in reality can be changed easily and become mere opinions.

The topic on beliefs and forming opinions on issues was touched upon on the first day of class when discussing the AFSCME strike. I was not very informed on this issue where as others had opinions and some even beliefs. I was listening to find the opinion on which made sense or appealed to me but sadly none arouse and I have almost completely ignored the issue.

This essay appealed to me because I have beliefs on what is “right and wrong” in life but not many beliefs in the current world today. There are many things I find hard to even form an opinion on such as, politics, war and other world issues. I mainly blame this on myself for not getting informed as well as I should on certain issues and basing my opinions on other peoples knowledge. The fault is not all be on me though. The media is more concerned with entertainment. They air “Shocking” news such as, teen celebrities getting arrested for underage drinking for a higher rating. Many Americans would rather watch American Idol and vote for one of the singers than a presidential debate.

According to the last paragraph I find I have opinions on issues but more need to come of them. It has become a new goal of mine to pay more attention to the world around me and to form better opinions which can lead to solid beliefs.


Belief in the Lack of Belief

The author, Matthew, shares his views on the negative aspects of belief, and tells us that he actually believes in the lack of belief itself. He describes the fact that wars and general struggle are usually nested in a single belief or idea. This belief or idea is usually not proven to be true, but simply believed by the promoters. He goes on to talk about God, and the fact that there are millions of people who believe with all of their heart that he exists, though they have never seen proof nor do they seek it. In the end, Matthew is saying that humans are gullible in their beliefs, and that it is highly likely that there is no God, no greater purpose for our lives, and we are unable to accept that. He has a realistic view of the world, in seeing what is, and not what could be.

I think that Matthew has some very good points throughout his essay, but there are many places where he jumps around and avoids the counter arguments. What do we have without belief? It is human nature to believe in a better tomorrow in order to make today more manageable. Whether tomorrow is brighter or not is irrelevant, because either way, the belief that it will be makes today easier and more enjoyable. Much of our lifestyle is based on delayed gratification and the belief that we will be rewarded for our 4 years of college. It is a belief, not a fact, that we will have a higher paying job and a better lifestyle as a result of the hard work we put in today.

Now if we take this idea to the next level, belief in an afterlife makes our current life more enjoyable and productive, at least in some ways. Matthew may argue that blind belief in an afterlife is simply blissful ignorance that comes from fear of the unknown, but how can someone be called ignorant if no one knows the answer? To say that there is no afterlife seems just as absurd as saying there is a perfect heaven for everyone who loves their neighbor, but neither one can be judged ignorant or wrong.

Finally, belief has unarguably good applications in the world today. Many religious beliefs cater to peaceful solutions and generosity towards fellow human beings. For example, because Christians believe in an afterlife, and they believe that loving their neighbor and helping those who are not as fortunate as themselves will get them into this beautiful afterlife, many poor and needy humans benefit. Overall, I think the negative aspects of belief are just a small part of everything that is belief.

believe Essay

service faith honor.

John McCain mentions first, “I believe in honor, faith, and service to one’s country and to mankind. McCain writes how an event which happened in his life leads and reinforces him to believe in honor, faith, and service. These three have helped him have a desire to serve in causes greater than their self-interests; and become more understanding of himself so that he can be a good example for future generations to make better decisions to pave the path towards righteousness and freedom.

the essay is strait forward, a strong and humble tone throughout. I sensed a proud tone from family, comrades, and fellow Americans and it comes in at the end as well. To me it seemed he is just another average middle class American. He looked up to people that made you want to serve a cause greater than your own self-interest. It made me want to be this way, by following integrity and honor we can serve in causes. It makes one proud. Using stories to tell about honor, faith and service tells of his meaning of faith honor and service. I think this is an effective way to communicate beliefs because it brings out emotions and it connects with readers’ stories. With the people that he idolized, such as his English teacher, their stories and words helped shape and take control of his beliefs in honor faith and service. from a story shaped world, i think that McCain was inspired to serve in greater causes by other peers stories and language, especially his english teacher, can effect and shape one persons life. “I have believed that the means to real happiness and the true worth of a person is measured by how faithfully we serve a cause greater that our own self-interest.” With the events and teachings that shaped his beliefs if one has honor, faith it can inspire him to act in greater interests. This is done through service to ones country and cause. By having honor and faith life event inspire one to serve a cause greater than their own self-interest theme in the paper. He mentions a different kind of faith, a faith that unites and mends, that everyone is created equal and given unalienable rights. if one is proud they should give each other this faith, honor and service. By being proud through honor, service and faith it should make one feel they are making a difference toward a just and free society.

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This I believe Analysis on Forgiveness
This essay was written by a young man that had a friend that was murdered. The writer, Keziah, initially gave example of times were people are forgiven for minor wrongdoings. Keziah than described how it was hard for him to forgive the two guys that killed his friend and smiled when, “one came to his senses in jail and committed suicide”. After about two years of thinking about what forgiveness means he found it in his heart to forgive the murderers.
I chose this essay because forgiveness is a complicated matter and this essay describes that. The writer makes the argument that we are raised to forgive but have very little idea what forgiveness is. This point is illustrated with examples of how people treat forgiveness as a means to an end of an issue and not on making amends.
The essay’s tone takes a turn when the writer said the he couldn’t ever forgive the people that killed his friend. He said that he wants to, “inflict the same kind of pain on those two men that they had on my friend and his family.” I think that his feelings were justified and that most people would feel that same if they were in his situation. But Keziah finds forgiveness over time and can live without the weight of grudges, resentment, and hate.
This essay relates to the class because forgiveness is very much apart of the world we live in and influences people’s lives. The issue of forgiveness permeates itself in many aspects of politics, the media, literature and rational thinking. I think that the sincerity resignates throughout this essay and is easily detected by the reader. The writer brings up the sociological implications of forgiving, his own experience with working towards forgiveness, and why true forgiveness should be common policy for everyone.

Jackie Robinson Believes

Matthew Ihrke
EngL 1501W - M. Coleman
“This I Believe” Analysis

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson Believes

In this article Jackie Robinson, who was the first African-American major league baseball player, talks about his struggle to be apart of something he always wanted to do. He was always discriminated against and no matter how hard life got he never stopped believing in the human race. He knew that the best place for him to fight the imperfections of society was to have Negroes play baseball. When he played in the World Series he felt that he was playing for more than just himself but rather for other people. He felt that satisfaction when one year he looked at the opposing team, and saw other African-Americans playing on the same field as everyone else. Also what this man did was believed not only to help the present but also the future and that is what got him through the fight. He believed that what he fought for was worth it and it was only possible due to his faith in god.
I chose this essay because Jackie Robinson is one of the greatest sports heroes in American or “public” history. He made it possible for us to enjoy all sports without discriminating against anyone. If he was not a strong willed man that he was America might have waited another ten to fifteen years until there was another African-American player in any league. He states that people should fight against all imperfections in life and that is not necessarily true since what one person thinks is not perfect another person would believe that it is and then there would be an everlasting battle on some issues. This goes along with our class because it is talking about how America came together in one sense. It takes how the people of America thought of each other and how there was finally somebody that took charge in one of the imperfections in America and tried to make it possible for the future to make it perfect.

"We May Be Divided, But We All Want the Same"

The essay I chose to analyze is called, “We May Be Divided, But We All Want the same”. I chose this essay because the title caught my eye. I was intrigued as to what the author’s reasons were for us being divided yet wanting the same things. In the essay, Stephanie writes about her experiences working on campaigns. She details how chaotic the atmosphere is with all of the deadlines and time commitments. She brings up the point that of course she has strong political view points which are obvious based on the work she is willing to put into campaigns.

She talks about views that divide us and then shifts to saying that the American people basically all want the same things. One of the things we all want is to have good jobs in order to support those around us. She also mentions clean air, safe food, and good healthcare. I agree that these are things everyone in America would like. In order to prove her point she tells a story of a campaign year. It came down to a table divided of Democratic and Republican nurses. Although they may have held very different political beliefs, in the end they were all after the same things. They wanted what was needed for them to better care for their patients and their families.

This essay makes its arguments by providing the reader with real life experiences from the author. She also talks about issues that people would be concerned with like having a good job and being able to retire. It’s hard to argue against wanting those things. As far as relating to the class, this is very much an issue dealing directly with public life. It forces us to think about how we may be divided by some of our political beliefs, but when it comes down to it we are all after similar things.

I Believe in Teddy Bears

Tod tells us the story of his deployment with the Air force to northern Afghanistan. His story truly shows how one can believe so strongly in teddy bears. It was undoubtedly a beautiful place to see and at the same time hit with so much violence. Torn by war and poverty was not one where people would want to spend time. In fact many of the people there were traveling and moving in hopes of finding something better. Tod had to travel across much of this land and during this time he passed by people suffering through much despair. With him he carried a bright blue teddy bear and as he passed one young boy with his grandfather he handed the boy the teddy bear. The boy grasped and hugged that bear. The boy’s grandfather thanked Tod and gave him a look with a hint of hope in it. It was from that moment of seeing that boy cling to that bear that he began to believe in the power of teddy bears.

I guess I was first drawn to this essay for the simple fact that it talked about Teddy Bears. I found it was much different than that. Tod is truly someone who has been able to see the world from another perspective. I personally wish that it was easier and less dangerous to do. I liked the essay mostly for the glimmer of hope it gave at the end. Maybe not the end of solutions but one that I think made a good point. I also really liked how he got my feelings with his essay and how genuine I felt it was. I think he uses a great deal of feelings and imagery to make his arguments. I could personally see him in Afghanistan handing that boy the teddy bear. His soft tone makes this essay easier to feel and relate with. I think his ability to do that makes him persuasive. Overall I think this essay speaks to us as a class in showing us new perspectives of war and possibly what our duties are as citizens of a country that is at war. It is never easy to make a choice to go to war or stand up and fight for something like this, and he almost makes it sound simple.

Here is the link to read more about Tod:

Analysis: This I Believe Essays

This is an essay about the fact that as members of this society when we are born where a place has already been made for us. It is something that we are predispositioned to. Don talks about a boy that rode his bus when he was a child that helped bring him to the realization of his own place in society, as well as how it made him aware of the place of others. The young, poor boy, Dalton is picked on for the way he looks, even though it is not his fault. Instead of joining the rest of the "mob," Don was filled with anguish and disgust for the situation. Some 55 years after it happened he now sees that this was the reaction that he was programmed for. He goes on to discuss the differences in the comforts in our society. He discusses how life is just not fair, but like Dalton this is not necessarily something that people are responsible for and it is not something that we can control.

The author, Don, opens the essay with story from his childhood. This is what draws the reader in in my opinion. It gives the essay a personal feeling from the start. He uses a serious tone through out the essay. Bullying at a young age has been a topic of interest in the public eye more recently and the serious tone adds to the importance of the example. In this essay there are a few examples that deal with a few of the main things our society seems to revolve around currently. The use of extreme patriotism as something to distract us from examining our own culture is an example that makes a very relevant point. It shows that being a part of a society where patriotism is something that we are encouraged to take part in, we are also born into a society in which we do not truly have a chance to take a good look at that society and evaluate certain things about it we might otherwise have been able to. This course is one about how things are presented and how particular methods, language, ets. make us look at certain things. This essay is one that has to do with representation and interpretation, although it may not clearly be stated.

I chose this essay because I am planning on majoring in psychology. I find the part of psychology pertaining to predisposition and the causes of certain disorders very interesting. This essay was to me just an example of another way to look at predisposition and the things it can cause people to do. Also, it is one that causes the reader to think about the way our society works and some of the things it stands for.

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Education, What is it good for?

The writer of this essay first approaches the task of writing a “this I believe” essay as being something easy. She quickly rattles off famous quotes that she learned during her years of schooling. However, she soon realizes that none of these quotes seem to be a good topic for what she believes. She determines that the reason that this task is so difficult is because she had never been asked to write about what she believes in, only to analyze and comment on other peoples’ work. She interprets her problem as a failure in her schools to teach her how to think for herself. She sees this as a problem throughout many schools where teachers are overwhelmed by state standards and do not give the students the chance to learn how to think.
This essay captured my interest because I am currently an undergraduate in the Elementary Education program. I too will someday be faced with the challenges of doing what is best for my students. The message also holds meaning to anyone who has been educated in schools because it deals with the current state of the American education system. She begins her essay with a display of rote memorization that quickly turns into a critique of her own foundations of thought. She concludes that students are rarely, if ever, given the opportunity to examine their own lives and beliefs in an educational setting. She even adds a hint of irony by reciting the quote from Socrates “the unexamined life is not worth living,” something she would have learned in school but a concept never practiced by the school. She goes on to explain how students go on to become professionals at school and not necessarily at education. Many people who have gone through high school knows the tricks and techniques to succeed without ever trying very hard, I know I do. It makes us question the value of our own education and question if the teachers could or could not have done better. In the end she agrees with the quote from Socrates and claims “that the purpose of schools is not to teach students what to think, but rather teach students how to think.” By making this point she reveals the underlying question: What is the role of education in our society, and what it should be? It seems like such a simple question to answer, yet there are many different opinions. Do we teach our children to think like us, or do we give them the gift of free thought and risk having them come up with their own ideas to live by? Do we simply teach them of to survive in our world, or do we give them the tools to change it?

Analysis for "A Marriage That's Good Enough"

This essay caught my eye when I saw the words “good enough” in the title. I am a firm believer in ‘reaching for the stars’ and I do not believe in the same ideas as the author. Corinne Colbert is a middle aged wife, mother, and journalist. She states in her essay that although she does not live an extravagant lifestyle and her marriage is not quite as exciting as it used to be, she is still moderately happy. She realizes that most people would accuse her of settling. Colbert argues with society’s definition of settling and believes that we as human beings ask for too much. She has a caring husband, good children, food on the table, and a roof over her head. She is comfortable. She asks herself and the audience why she would want more when she has all that she truly needs.

Colbert’s point of view is centered on the idea that we have been taught to be greedy, overachieving human beings. But are we really? The quotes like “the grass is always greener on the other side” and “we always want what we don’t have” are simple ways of life as humans and especially as Americans. I think Colbert’s argument is the polar opposite of “The American Dream.” American history is based off of hard work and resilience. One should not give up a dream or desire in life just because one’s life looks ok compared to someone else’s. We are the only ones who can decide if we are happy or not.

People should always strive to reach the limits and meet their goals. Instead of continuing a life that is ordinary and decent we should strive for what we really want in life. Who cares if it is impossible or unrealistic, one should never give up on something they believe strongly about. Yes we need to be humble and gracious but it does not mean we have to stop wanting, stop living, and stop dreaming to the fullest.

I will obey the orders of my Heart

“I will obey the orders of my heart
According to the regulations of my soul,
Any my sense of Justice,
So help me God”

These words about being true to oneself were written by a soldier from Rosemount, Minnesota. The soldier tells the story of how he joined the military and lost his sense of individuality. In the military you are conditioned to think and act exactly as your superiors tell you. Through the narrator’s experiences he learned the dangers of not being true to your beliefs and expresses his convictions that in order to be happy you must obey your own heart.

I chose this essay because I found it to be powerfully written as the author shares his experience with following the desires of others and how some of the things he did under orders will haunt him for the rest of his life. The author chose to write a poem rather than an essay and through the use of poetry is able to express his emotions in a way otherwise impossible.

While the author uses the military as the device that robbed him of his individuality in the poem, I do not believe the purpose of the essay is to denigrate the military. The purpose extends far beyond that, in teaching a lesson valuable to people from all walks of life. There are many ways people can forget to be true to themselves and make similarly haunting mistakes; the author was merely expressing his broader thought using examples most applicable to his personal life.

The purpose of this essay was to share the author’s conviction that every person, despite what larger things they may be caught up in, has an individual heart, mind and soul and in order to be happy, one must stay true to those vitalities. He puts forth the notion that in the chaos of life it is oftentimes easier to follow another but we all have the power to choose and if we choose the harder route of individuality, we will be better for it.

This essay is applicable to what we are learning in class because as we study characteristics of America and Americans, we must remember there is no such thing as a “typical American”. Everyone in our country has their own passions, beliefs, lifestyles and choices, and each individual is as distinctly American as the next.

This I Believe

This I believe

In this essay the author talks about death, but more importantly, about life. Like many other people, Louis has a lot of experiences related with death. For example, he took care of his mother when she was dying of Lymphoma and his son who battled Melanoma, who died as well. Not only did the author have close family members that passed away, he himself has even came very close twice because of a serious auto accident. Through Louis' experiences with death and dying, it has taught him something very important: appreciate life and do not take things for granted. He explains that the reason why he survived both times was because he loved life and it was not his time yet. He learned that life cannot be just tossed around; it is very fragile and can be taken away at the blink of an eye. There are so many little things in life that people do not appreciate, like taking a breath of fresh air or breathing for that matter. When his time comes, he doesn't want to regret anything.

I chose to analyze this essay for two reasons. The first reason being that he makes a good point. He has a good way of looking at life that I appreciate. I can especially relate to him when he says not to take other people for granted. This is something that people may not notice they do, but do all the time. You never know when you'll wake up one day and someone very close to you is gone. This leads me to the second reason why I picked this essay. One of my closest friends was killed last summer in a boating accident and was taken from us in a second. Like the author, I was not prepared for this to happen and never thought at age 18, I would have a close friend pass away. This experience changed me, like the author and is something that I will always think about.

Follow the Laughter

In Martha’s essay she writes about laughter. She explains that in business and politics many people do what they do because they are following the money, but when it comes to friendships, love and other personal choices, she believes it’s better to follow the laughter. Martha then goes on to tell how her laughter played such a large part in her family. She also tells how she lost laughter in her life for awhile when she got married. This didn’t last long, as she divorced him and found new laughter in her second husband. Martha ends with a quote, “…listen for the laughter, your own and others’, and it will lead you to what you love-the people the places, even the work.”

Martha proposes her argument with a calm pleasant tone. She doesn’t try to force any beliefs down your throat, but instead she talks based on her experiences. She is only trying to help others by what she has learned in her own life. I feel this is a perfect way to go about it. She’s not saying that if you don’t do it her way by having laughter in your life you will be miserable. She’s only telling how much happier it will make you.

I chose this essay first, because I wanted to read an essay written by someone who I have never heard so I wouldn’t be able to put a face to the name or have any previous assumptions made about the person. Second, because following the laughter is something I agree with. One of the biggest characteristics I look for in either a friend or boyfriend is humor, or whether or not they can make me laugh. I also grew up with a lot of laughter in my family and I’ve realized it makes every day that much better.

This essay relates to our class discussions about Americans because as we’ve talked about America, we have realized it has been symbolized by many people as really only caring about money. I think this is a perfect example of how not everything positive in life has to have a set “price” or quantitative amount of how much good it is doing you. There are many things like laughter that may not make you lots of money or get you stylish clothes, yet they will get you farther in life.,laughter&uid=12028&yval=0&start=0

"I Believe In The Middle"

Candace strongly believes in the middle. In her essay, Candace challenges the belief that there can only be extreme views on any given subject, while so many people with lesser right or left swayed opinions remain unheard or misunderstood in “the middle.”

The author begins by pleasantly describing her childhood, growing up happily in the middle of Missouri; a place she considered the middle of the world. She loved being in the middle, and described it as “somehow extraordinary, magical, fabulous--the best place to be.”

There is a tone change at this point, when Candace explains leaving a happy childhood as she grows into a somber realization that outsiders consider the middle, her hometown, as “the place where they [people not from Missouri] were not.” People who lived in other parts of the country didn’t pay attention to her Midwest homeland. With this, she realized that “the middle wasn't just a place by itself; it was also a place between two opposing points.”

This idea is used by Candace as a metaphor for the general population’s belief that there should only be extreme views, one way or the other, on a given subject. People should be forced to take a side. She states, “There seemed some pervasive expectation that, sufficient force would persuade people in the middle choose, picking one extreme over the other.” With a tone of self-insecurity, Candace explains how she lived uncomfortably with her beliefs for years; feeling rejected by the general opinionated public.

Nevertheless, with newfound courage; regaining her footing and coming to the conclusion that there should be middle ground between the two extremes, Candace now speaks boldly and proudly of her beliefs, ending the essay in an upbeat, self-motivating style.

This essay caught my eye with an interesting introduction, and clever metaphor relating living in the Midwest to people’s extreme opinions. I found I could relate to the idea Candace brought up that it is human nature to pick a side in an argument, or sway greatly one way or the other on a topic. This is what we were raised doing; be it for an election or rooting for a football team. It takes strength to stand up for your true beliefs, even when they do not neatly fit into the predetermined categories of today’s society. I am left feeling that Candace did a good job explaining and supporting her beliefs.

This I believe: Untold Stories of Kindness

Eric Moritz
Analysis of “Untold Stories of Kindness” by Ernesto Haibi

This story told by Haibi, a 15 year veteran military medic (served in air force also), is eye opening. He just got back from Iraq and he explains his realization of his beliefs. He realized that he believes in people, man, and humankind. He believes in the bravery, courage, and honor that these people show every day. He explains that he doesn’t believe in gods or spirits. He saw greatness from both sides of the fight. He saw innocent civilians get bombed and come out to help with the injured and dead. He was amazed by the influence of a smile between two people who did not know each other. He was in charge of helping injured people and inspecting clinics. He was moved by all the kindness by strangers and the warm-heartedness of mankind.

This man isn’t a great storyteller, speaker, or narrator. He is a man who experienced many things in his life that many do not get to experience. Haibi wants to share his thoughts and feelings with those who cannot grasp what war actually brings out of people. He wants people to see that for how much effort and time put into this war, we could be putting that much into overcoming adversity and destruction. He is one of many who have seen innocent civilians die, and their friends and families help and care for the wounded after. I know it would change my life to see something like this and I’m sure it would change many others as well.

I chose this essay because it’s an essay of hope, love, reality, and bravery. These aspects and qualities are important to living at happy and fulfilling life. I think Haibi’s wisdom greatly surpasses his age and we should learn from him as well as all people who have unique experiences that we will never live to fully appreciate. He doesn’t write with a higher meaning. He doesn’t write with hidden thoughts. He writes from the heart and wants us to take as much as we can from his experience.

An Analysis of: “An Ideal of Service to our Fellow Man”

Einstein begins his essay with a picture of beauty, but not in the sense most think of beauty. He states, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious—the knowledge of the existence of something unfathomable to us”. But where in the dark void of the unfathomable can one find beauty? Einstein finds it in the small portion of the “existing world” that we have come to begin to understand and describe through mathematical and scientific models. He is, “satisfied (…) with the awareness of—and glimpse into—the marvelous construction of the existing world together with the steadfast determination to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.” He finds this beauty not only in the understanding, but also what leads us to want to understand, a thirst for knowledge. Yet as he tries to understand the mysteries of our existing world in which we live he is also, “satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity”. He does not attempt to fathom that which is truly unfathomable; he only attempts to comprehend what can be grounded in reality and reason.

He uses the same reasoning in the question of morality. “What is moral is not of the divine, but rather a purely human matter.” He argues here that right and wrong cannot be passed to us from a greater being that we have no contact with. We should instead look into the past and into ourselves to find our moral compass. Einstein goes on to say that through the Jewish-Christian tradition we have been given, “…a very high goal: free and responsible development of the individual, so that he may place his powers freely and gladly in the service of all mankind.” He goes on to say that in our time, “he (the individual) sees it (society) as a threat to his natural rights and even his economic existence.” In other words the individual of today has no interest in freely and gladly placing his powers in the service of mankind without economic reward. Einstein concludes his essay stating, “…the education of the individual aspires to revive an ideal that is geared toward the service of our fellow man, and that needs to take the place of the glorification of power and outer success.” He calls for us to continue to thirst for knowledge and educate ourselves about the world and people around us, but pleads that the reason for our thirst must be to better mankind as a whole not to better and glorify our own lives.

I chose this essay because I see in it the answer to one of our first discussion questions in the class: What is the individual’s responsibility to society? I now believe, as I think Einstein does, that the individual’s responsibility to society is to educate oneself and thirst for knowledge at all times, so that we may offer our services and knowledge up to all of mankind for the sake of simply bettering the world around us.

(If you have read my essay please read Einstien's also, my words can hardly do justice to the words of the genius himself)
Einstein's essay:

"Inconveniences"- A "This I believe" Analysis

Sullivan’s untitled essay is a reflection on how someone’s small efforts can have an enormous effect on another’s happiness. Sullivan begins her reflection by stating “I believe in always going to the funeral” and by explaining that, as a child, her father had to force her to attend funerals. At the age of 16, she attended a funeral for a teacher and began to see the meaning of her father’s words. She writes of her shock that her embarrassed and clumsy profession of sorrow meant so much for the family of her teacher. Since then, Sullivan adopted the motto of “always going to the funeral” and began to view it as meaning that she should make an effort to do the small but inconvenient things in life (such as attending a birthday party few will attend or visiting someone in the hospital) because they mean so much to others.

Sullivan’s essay is powerful yet easy to relate to. Sullivan’s choice of writing of herself initially as a child allows readers to connect to her and see the development of her belief, which is more convincing than if she were to preach an elaborately constructed belief with no obvious basis in real-life. Also, she focuses on death- a topic that many Americans avoid due to sadness, fear of mortality, or embarrassment. Choice of a sensitive topic allows Sullivan to connect to readers in a more emotional and more open manner. Sullivan writes of funerals sensitively yet realistically- she admits that most readers, like her, do not always want to attend. This gives her writing a very human and universal perspective, and allows her to explain, without preaching, the benefit of making an effort.

I chose Sullivan’s essay because I felt that it truly illuminates the good in human nature in a realistic and humble matter. At the end of her essay, Sullivan describes her father’s funeral and states that she witnessed “the most human, powerful and humbling” sight when she saw that the church was full during the workday on a Wednesday. The funeral attendees all fought the “convenient” path to make time to attend the funeral, and it is very evident how meaningful that was for Sullivan. I often feel that I live my life by doing only what is necessary and convenient, and I’m sure many American’s can attest that they’ve also fallen into this habit. I also remember a similar story from when I was younger- how my parents coaxed me to hug my grandmother at the funeral of her mother. Initially, I didn’t want to because I was embarrassed and didn’t feel comfortable with how vulnerable I felt. However, after I did, I was very glad because I feel that it meant so much for my grandma and I felt like I had grown closer to her. Sullivan also states that “the daily battle [of my life] hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.” I think that this message relates to the message of this course- by viewing every small action as having a potentially large amount of weight in the world, people can make a difference. I believe that this essay gives great advice on living your life with purpose without needing to mention religion, philosophy, or culture because it focuses on elements of human nature that everyone is familiar with.

Jennifer Mamrosh

Analysis: I believe in death.

In the essay “I believe in Death” the author talks about the reality of death. It is a common believe among people that a new life starts after we die. Most people do not accept the reality that when we die, that is the end of our existence. Mano, the author believes that there is no afterlife and that death is real and final. It took a long time for Mano to come to terms with death. After the death of his father it was comforting to believe that he is looking down on his family from ”up there” It was very hard to let that believe go. But now he is at peace and has a much greater appreciation for the one life that he is given. This made life more meaningful and joyful. Seeing death as a natural part of life has removed the fear of not being around to see more of what life has to offer and instilled the believe to enjoy life to the fullest every single day. Mano used to think that life after death is what he should look forward to and prepare for. Our one life is the real deal and it is during this time that we have to give our best performance. When you realize that you have only one life to live you live it wisely and make the best of every day and every situation. As Mano quotes in his essay: ''Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.''
I chose this essay because I believe in the same thing. I believe in living your life to the fullest everyday so there will be no regrets after you pass away. I agree with the idea that there is no more of you after you die and that there is no such thing as heaven and hell or afterlife. Death can come knocking on your door anytime unannounced, but we should not live our lives fearing it because it is natural for everyone and everything to die. I don’t know how this directly relates to our class but it does deal with the life and the public believes of life after death. This is a very controversial topic which affects everyone one of us.


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