Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

The useless piece of paper

May 12, 2010

How “the value of an education” has reduced our society into a mundane and mediocre experience

In today’s world, most people would equate obtaining a college degree with living a successful life. Unfortunately, that is largely true…

How many years of this will you sentence yourself to?

Everything seems to come down to the classroom: how many hours you have spent in class, how much homework you have done, how many credits you have earned, and the piece of paper you are given as a reward, better known as a degree. There are many companies and employers who will refuse to have anything to do with an applicant who has not done the 4+ year prison sentence, even if they are eager and more than capable of doing what is needed. Now, things are more difficult than ever…community colleges are bursting at the seams and tuition costs for universities are going through the roof. In fact, some people are shelling out $20-30,000 a year only to emerge without the ability to locate Iraq on a map or identify what political party Abraham Lincoln was involved in. How pathetic is that?

As a student, I always find myself thinking of what I’d really like to be doing every time I force myself into the classroom…and it’s not just because I am awash with ADD. Last year, I learned more about life and the world we live in when I visited South Asia. I discovered who I could be and what I wanted to do…and I didn’t even have to assess into a math class. Since then, I’ve come to realize that there are many famous people — in fact, many people who have changed the world — who either gave up or skipped the classroom altogether. Just a few examples…

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Harry S. Truman
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Eminem
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Bill Gates
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Woody Allen
  • George Washington

Many of these people have changed the world in spectacular ways or have accomplished things that many of us only dream of…and the piece of paper that today’s society demands was not even needed. If I had it my way, I would take all the money I will spend on college these next two years and use it to travel and gain the experience in life I need. Maybe everyone should. I mean, come on, its not as if our world, even though it demands degrees from those who seek success, is a perfect place. Far from it, in fact.

My ideal classroom...a visit to Indonesia

In the West, “the value of an education” and its ripple effects produce a population that is enslaved to mediocrity and a boring way of life: you are born, go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, produce a few kids, get a mortgage, plan for retirement, save for the kids’ “education”, suffer a few financial and subsequent health problems, send the kids off to college, weep at the sight of their empty room, pay bills, retire (if you live long enough), and die.

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking I am just a misinformed college student. But…think for a minute about how many lives could be summed up with the above list. I’m guessing there are quite a few…probably even a clear majority who live that way. When I realize this, I can’t help but shudder at the thought of paying tens of thousands of dollars just so I can find a place among billions in a lifestyle that is the same — a depressing, perpetual cycle on a spinning rock in space. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you are like me and need some inspiration, do some research on some of the people I mentioned above. Their stories are amazing. The things they accomplished were amazing. They were adventurous and stepped off the path that everyone else took…and some of them ended up leaving today’s world a better place than the world they found.

As for me, I don’t know what I am going to do…I want to have a degree, but I’m not going to punish myself if it proves to be too difficult. Maybe I should book a one-way ticket to some remote corner of the world 😀

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Haiti and Chile stand together

February 28, 2010

I have been following the events that have taken place in Chile today, as well as the subsequent tsunami warnings that have spread across the Pacific. The Chilean government, society, and people should be praised for their readiness in dealing with such a catastrophic natural disaster…as of this writing, Chile has still not appealed for international help even though the death toll has topped 300.

Cars are piled together after an overpass collapse in Chile (AP)

Earlier, I read this article in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, the president of Haiti visited the Chilean embassy in Port-Au-Prince just hours after the massive quake rattled the South American country. Many Haitian citizens, as one might imagine, are saddened to hear that the world is repeating its tragedies.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – News of Chile’s massive earthquake traveled fast in quake-hit Haiti, where people were saddened to hear about the latest quake, wondered aloud whether God was angry at the world, and worried that the globe’s attention would shift away from this tiny and impoverished nation.

“What’s going on in the world?” asked Nancy Brunet, a 54-year-old Port-au-Prince resident.

“Earthquakes here, in Chile, and in Japan. Nature is going crazy,” added Marlene Larco, a 49-year-old manager of a hardware store.

Having suffered so much since the Jan. 12 quake, many grieving Haitians expressed their heartfelt condolences. President Rene Preval went to the Chilean embassy in Port-au-Prince to give his personal message of sympathy. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was just in Haiti earlier this month to get a first hand look at the damage.

Haitians also marveled at the much lower death toll in Chile and said it was evidence that Haiti needed to enact much stricter building codes.

“There are very good structures in Chile, built correctly. That’s why not more people died,” said Moise Philogene, a 40-year-old unemployed lawyer. Mr.Philogene said he didn’t know much about science, but supposed there was a connection between the two quakes.

“It’s earthquake time. It started in Haiti, went to Chile… maybe Mexico is next,” he mused. “I don’t know. But it’s going around.”

As some news photographers left Haiti en route to Chile, locals wondered if the world’s attention would slip away from Haiti, where up to 300,000 people died in the quake and more than a million were thrown out of their homes.

The Haitian concern for the victims of the Chilean earthquake shows that there is much more to this story than body counts and cameras pointed at the ocean to await made-for-TV tsunamis. At the same time, Mr. Philogene makes a good point about the difference in casualties between the two countries…Chile was prepared for a massive earthquake, while Haiti was not. In addition, Haiti also suffers from a lack of legitimate governance. For years, the UN has served as the dominant police and political stabilizer on the island. Unfortunately, the 7.0 quake that ravaged the capital last month brought down the UN headquarters and killed several top officials, including the director.

Chile’s current president, Michelle Bachelete, and the president-elect, Sebastian Pinera, seem to be coordinating together efficiently. Hopefully next month’s transition will go through smoothly and even more importantly, we all should keep our fingers crossed that we have seen the worst of the devastation.

**Update** March 3rd,

Sadly, it appears the death toll in this disaster has now topped 800 in Chile as rescue crews continue to work round the clock.  Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens has an excellent article about Chile, the earthquake, and how its society was prepared for such a devastating event. Hitchens argues that Chile, as a free democracy and open society, was able to survive the quake “relatively well”, while a backwards dictatorship like Iran would not, should the Islamic Republic ever suffer a similar situation.

Worthy of a peace prize

January 22, 2010

I’m working on a more thorough post at the moment and I’m also getting ready for a new project next month, which I will be announcing shortly. In the meantime, I’ve had this on my mind…

Glenn Beck disappointed me with his comments about Scott Brown after the soon-to-be-senator won the Massachusetts election…other recent statements and actions by this commentator have led me to fear that he is aligning himself with the Ron Paul-type fringe movement. However, I still think that he has done tremendous good, in spite of what others may say about him. Just look at this video he made a few years back, when all hope seemed lost in Iraq and the media was reminding us *every* day. Personally, I think Beck should have been awarded a peace prize for being one of the few media figures willing to embrace the truth.

Glenn Beck, you are a hero for making this video and I wish everyone in the media was more like you on this subject, including today.

Toby Keith brings reality to Norway

December 11, 2009

As the attacks on President Barack Obama intensify over his Afghanistan policy, country music star Toby Keith is standing beside him–supporting his decision with a performance in Oslo, Norway.

While I have my disagreements over whether or not Obama deserved the Peace Prize, it goes without question that an effort to stabilize Afghanistan by crushing the Taliban fall under the category of trying to bring peace to the world. Even the Dalai Lama, who many see as the most peaceful man on earth, has said that fanatical extremists like the Taliban cannot be reasoned with. Some of the European “peace activists” and the American leftists back home who have gone up in arms (sic) over Obama’s surge strategy need to be reminded of this. No amount of reasoning and dialogue is going to stop the Taliban from hating women, blowing stuff up, or wanting to bring about a global backslide into the dark ages.

From AP:

OSLO — There’s no reason to apologize for supporting U.S. war efforts, American country singer Toby Keith said Friday, just hours before performing at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert.

Keith, whose 2002 saber-rattling hit “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” was inspired by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said he stands by President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Keith’s appearance at the downtown Oslo Spektrum arena, scheduled for 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EST), has been questioned by Norwegians dismayed that a performer known for a fervent pro-war anthem is playing at a show focused on peace.

The musician dismissed the criticism.

“If President Obama has to send (more) troops into Afghanistan to fight evil, I’ll pull for our guys to win, and I won’t apologize for it,” Keith said. “I’m an American, and I do pull for our team to fight evil.”

His comments come the day after Obama traveled to Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize and defended his decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. “Make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world,” Obama said in Thursday’s speech.

The peace prize laureate normally attends the concert, which is held in his or her honor. Obama’s seat, however, will remain empty. The president left the Norwegian capital early Friday morning, blaming a jammed schedule for cutting the usual three-day stay to just over 24 hours.

The Taliban are no doubt angry about Obama’s decision, so Afghans and Pakistanis at the center of this battle might want to avoid going to mosques and shopping centers for a while. The insurgents tend to take their violence to civilian areas when things don’t go their way.

So dry your tears, I say

December 8, 2009

If you have been following the news these last few days, you might like this video. Just the same, if you haven’t watched the news, don’t start now. The horrendous terrorist strikes that have killed hundreds in Iraq and Pakistan threaten to break the will of humanity…and the only way you can get comfort from this on cable news is if you want to hear about Tiger Woods’ half-dozen mistresses instead. So let’s light up the darkness, if I may take a cue from Will Smith’s character in “I am Legend”.

I was first introduced to Bob Marley’s message a couple of years ago when  I learned about his “Smile Jamaica!” concert in Kingston, where he came out on stage to share the love of Reggae music even after being shot by gunmen in his home. Despite suffering bullet wounds alongside his wife and producer, who were also hit, Marley sang some of his greatest and most inspirational songs to the thousands of people who had gathered in the war-ravaged city.

This man has changed my life in so many ways.