Check out my new site at…
All of my work will be archived there…and I will have lots of new stories.
Check out my new site at…
All of my work will be archived there…and I will have lots of new stories.
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…
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…
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.
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 😀
I’m going to be on my way to Tijuana, Mexico in a matter of hours, but I have some strong emotions about Iran I would like to transfer to the blogosphere first.
As I write this, I wonder to myself if society has become so deformed and deranged that human beings have lost touch with one another…we have forgotten that we are all one people who share the same world. I’m thinking this because I am repulsed by the news that has been coming out of Iran lately. It looks like the world is intent on watching the aging Islamic theocracy in that country dismantle its younger generation piece by piece, whether its hauling a student off to a Sharia Court and labeling him an enemy of God, raping a young woman, or busing rural, uneducated fundamentalists into Tehran to make it seem as if the establishment maintains any degree of credibility, as was done with February’s pro-revolution rally. Even many months after the June elections, Iranians have managed to come out into the streets, risking everything, to show the world that they are not one with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. Today, there is a very clear line between Iran and the government holding it hostage. The two are NOT one in the same.
Meanwhile, what is happening in response? Clueless American leftists remain lost in the Vineyard, the right is throwing a tantrum over healthcare, the Arabs in the Middle East remain silent, Europe does business as usual, and the President of the United States would rather make childish, fiercely partisan jokes about his opposition at home. Its shameful and embarrassing, all of it.
I suppose there is only so much I can ask from my country and the rest of the world to help the people of Iran. If nothing else, I just wish that the UN, Obama, and the international community would realize that the young people of Iran — who make up 70 percent of its population — are the face of that country, not the “Marg bar Amreeka!” rallies featuring the bearded mullahs and their dwindling sympathizers. Ahmadinejad is not the elected leader of Iran…the government is illegitimate and not worthy of any international recognition…working with him as a head of state is an insult to those who have died trying to stand up against him.
Since the elections…or moreover, since I began meeting Iranians, I have refused to use the name of the country, “Iran”, in reference to actions taken by Khamenei or any of his thugs. If only the UN could do the same, it would call the regime out and there would be no sanctions or violence required.
If you’ve been following my twitter updates, you’ve seen that I have been living in Nepal and South Asia for the last 6 weeks. Believe me, there is a lot to talk about…and I’m not quite sure where to start. But I decided to step away from the temple-lined trails of Lumbini and take my eyes off of the snow-covered mountains in Pokhara, at least for a few minutes, to write about a very serious situation that is talking place back home. No, its not President Obama’s remark about Kanye West or the latter’s behavior on television. The title of this post is not about H1N1 either, its something that has claimed 10 times as many victims.
From BBC News:
Gunmen have carried out another attack on a drugs rehabilitation centre in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, killing 10 people and injuring two others.
The shooting follows the deaths of 18 people in an attack on a separate rehab centre in the same city this month.
Such shootings have been blamed on drug traffickers who accuse the clinics of protecting dealers from rival gangs.
A vicious inter-gang drug war in Ciudad Juarez has seen some 1,400 drug-related deaths so far this year.
Thousands of extra police and troops have been deployed in the city, which is on the US border, to try to stem the inter-gang violence.
The latest killings took place at the Anexo de Vida clinic.
I read the international news the other day and came across the headlines that have been coming out of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s largest border city and ground zero for narco-terrorists and their horrific antics that include mass killings, beheadings, and forms of torture that are among the most gruesome in the world. The most dangerous people don’t necessarily linger in the mountains of Pakistan, as some people believe. Even those who scoff at the “War on Terror”, such as Isolationists like Ron Paul, should be able to see the seriousness of this threat. At the very least, we should feel for our neighbors on the other side of the border who have to live with a nightmare like this because of America’s obsession with drugs.
Hard to believe I’m going to be in Kathmandu, Nepal, in under two weeks. I’ve been reading up as much as I can and keeping in touch with friends and contacts who live there, but I can’t imagine I will understand the spectacular culture the city has to offer until I am actually walking through its streets. Its hard to express my excitement through a blog post.
Anyway, here is a video I found on YouTube, taken by a traveler, of traffic in Kathmandu.
I will be leaving for Delhi even sooner…in fact, I’ll be heading out there just days from now. During my stays in both countries, I will be blogging and updating twitter regularly, although it will probably be from an internet cafe half the time.
Yes, Iraq still exists. There was a time when it was the biggest story out there. It was in a state of complete chaos, devastating bombings rocking the country on a daily basis and militias roaming the street day and night, terrorizing and killing anyone who visited the wrong mosque. The situation was labeled a “civil war” by the media and just about anyone who tried to prove the opposite—that hope was not lost— was dismissed as a neocon or a “warmonger”. That was the past.
These days, the Baghdad correspondents who many Americans invited into their homes in the evening to tell tales of death and destruction have gradually disappeared. Often, a Google search of certain Iraqi cities will yield few results. With two successful elections this year, stunning security success, and a departure of US troops from major cities, Iraq is on track to succeed. But, despite a dramatic drop in news coverage that trends opposite a rise in progress and stability, you can still find regular articles in the newspaper, on TV and on the internet about the” War in Iraq”; usually they are about troop withdrawals or an attack that the enemies of humanity—the “minutemen”, as Michael Moore termed them—manage to pull off against Iraq’s civilian population. Either you hear that, or you hear nothing…that’s an industry that’s supposed to bring fairness and accuracy to the American population at work for you. Quite an achievement in society, isn’t it?
Although there is much work to be done, its time for the media to stop referring to the situation as “the war” and focus instead on Iraq’s emergence as a sovereign country with a fully capable army and police force that brought law, order, and stability to major Iraqi cities that were once deemed “lost” to the insurgency by conniving politicians, like Harry Reid, and hatchet-piece news reports that have had an awful tendency to dot the front pages of the New York Times and the evening news. In fairness to the Iraqi people, whether or not Iraq is “at war” can rightfully be questioned. Misleading the public by portraying Iraq as something it’s not is detrimental not only to society, but to humanity. Its hard to argue that a stable Iraq is in everyone’s interest, unless of course it doesn’t fit into your zealous political aspirations.
The biggest indication that Iraq’s dark days are behind it is the face of the insurgency, or lack thereof. Zarqawi is dead. Abu Ayyub Al-Maasri, his replacement, has not been heard from since 2007 and reports suggest he is in Afghanistan. Al-Sadr and his hiddeous deputy, Abu Deraa, have scurried off to Iran without even a whimper. As of today, every man who has taken a major role as a leader in the insurgency has been killed, jailed, or fled the country, leaving the so-called resistance without leadership or any form of logistical organization. Running gun battles and ambushes targeting the Iraqi Security Forces are down almost one-hundred percent while the ISF rules the streets in Basra, Ramadi, and Diyala. Then there are the elections. Last January saw a peaceful and successful democratic election that gave Iraqis the chance to join other democracies without having suicide attackers and car bombs detonate as they lined up. Last week, Iraq’s Kurdistan region went to the polls in a peaceful and efficient election, bringing a death blow to the once-resilient criticism that Iraq could never become a functioning democracy. In layman’s terms, it’s over…everyone who wanted to see the Iraqis fail at building a stable, democratic society has lost, pure and simple. And “everyone” covers a lot of ground, from the despotic Arab regimes that surround Iraq, to the still blood-soaked streets of Tehran, and the halls of Congress that were witness to countless resolutions drafted up congressmen and woman who sought to derail the success of Iraq and Iraqis to protect their political investments. The latter have both a (D) and an (R) in front of their names.
Iraq still faces trouble, particularly from its neighbors. As the uprising in Iran refuses to give up, its hard to predict what the regime in Tehran could do if 70 million people hungry for democracy and secularization bring it into its death throws. We all know the horror of what the Baathists, Saddam supporters, and Sunni extremists did to Iraq after they fell from power, there is no doubt that, if Khomeinism implodes, it could spew out the same terrorism—such as market and café bombings—and Iraq could bear the brunt of this, especially if the Mullahs and their allies sought to shift media attention away from their demise, which is becoming more of a possibility each day. Personally, I don’t think it’s a coincidence June saw an increased rate of high-profile attacks against Iraqi civilians as protests raged next door in Iran. Of course, a desperate and humiliated Al-Qaeda in Iraq was also eager to make it seem as if their attacks, not the June 30th deadline, were driving American soldiers from Iraqi cities and back to their bases. Despite rabid media hopes and speculation, the violence that hit parts of Iraq in June has not spilled over into July, and this month looks to be as calm as May, which was the calmest month in Iraq since 2003.
A congragulations and an apology to the people of Iraq from politicians across the United States should be in order. I’m not naïve though, and you shouldn’t be either. In the eyes of the Reids and Pelosis of the world, Iraq mind as well have spun off the earth’s axis. It was a subject that scored them a few cheap political points and could be swept under the rug when everything backfired. In fact, if it wasn’t for the financial crisis, I can’t help but feel that American voters might have seen what had been going on behind the curtains and rightfully voted against these people. It amazes me how a Senator can declare an effort lost and refer to a 4-star general as a liar without being ran straight out of office. 2010 could bring some solace to those of us who stood by Iraq in the most difficult of times, but the real solace comes in the continued growth and success in Iraq: the markets re-opening, the schools being built, and the brave young men and women who enlist into Iraq’s security forces and take an oath to protect their fellow citizens, so they can bring their children in a nation that could prove to be the Middle East’s greatest success story.
What has communism helped us achieve? I think this is a good question. I’ve been hearing a lot about communism lately. From middle-aged veterans, like the ones you can find across Berkeley, to college students who have been indoctrinated into believing that the genocidal wisdom of Lenin, Marx, and Mao somehow has something positive to offer the world, communism and socialism are being put forward by some as the solution to the world’s financial difficulties.
When I get into debates about the subject, I always start by asking “What has communism done to benefit society? ” The answer to this question is an elusive one, because unless you consider re-education camps, Stalin’s Purges, or Kim Jong Il’s cult-like dictatorship a benefit to society you have few examples to provide. Capitalism has provided us with much of what we take for granted today—automobiles, railroads, airplanes, internet access, computers, toilet paper—the list goes on. However, a lot of pro-leftist/communist sorts will talk about Fidel Castro and Cuba—its health care system, its infrastructure, its emergency-preparation—and how that system has helped the people of Cuba. Well then, if Cuba is such a stunning success story, why is it that so many people on the island are willing to attach themselves to floating objects that are far from seaworthy and paddle their way to America?
Even if it’s conceded that Cuba has built a successful communist system (which it has not), it has come at the expense of human rights and liberties that Castro’s defenders on US soil take for granted. After all, it doesn’t take more than mild criticism of the brothers’ Castro to end up rotting in some jail. Ironically, American leftists who defend Castro often rant about the evils committed by the US Government in Guantanamo Bay, which, compared to Castro’s prison system, would probably be a luxury retreat to the thousands of prisoners being held in Cuba. I’m not advocating or supporting the things that have happened down in Gitmo, but 3 square meals a day, regular health checkups, freedom to pray, and a clean cell are hard to come by if you get picked up by Cuba’s State Security Forces. Perhaps it’s no surprise that several Guantanamo inmates linked to the Uighur separatist movement have made very clear they would rather remain in prison than be deported back to Communist China, a country that has all but silenced the Muslim population of their native Xinjiang Province.
Enough about Cuba though…I’d like to talk more about what communism has offered society, both in the past and today, that has been of benefit. Unless you are moved by death, destruction, and dismemberment, this list of latest accomplishments by communists and their sympathizers will not impress you.
Communism’s role in today’s society:
July 24th, 2009: The “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” executes a woman for distributing bibles and spreading the Christian Faith. She was executed last month despite a claim by the North Korean Government that the state guarantees freedom of religion.
July 20th, 2009: FARC rebels attack a town in southeastern Columbia, injuring dozens of people and killing three others, including two teenagers.
July, 2009: Maoist bombers take down 36 policemen in India’s remote East with multiple landmine blasts and a ferocious gunbattle. A dozen more officers are seriously injured and several others remain missing. The assailants—the feared Naxalite rebels, are inspired by the communist teachings of “Revolutionary” Mao Zedong and Lenin
Meanwhile, the Naxalites have issued a threat against Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, vowing that he will meet the “same fate” as former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in Sri Lanka by a female suicide bomber dispatched by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Considering that the Naxalites have begun to imitate the LTTE in other tactics, does this mean that they are ready to strap themselves in explosives and go after Indian politicians? The answer remains to be seen, but communists attacking world leaders with suicide vests is one of the last things this world needs right now.
So does this type of system offer us hope in a challenging economic climate? You be the judge, my friends.
I am still here, I’ve just been tied down with all of my busy work lately! As you can see, I have been doing my very best to update my twitter account often on an hourly basis, but I took a couple weeks off from blogging. At the moment, I am in the final stages of preparing for my trip to New Delhi next month. I’m leaving on the 10th and I obtained my 6-month Visa today. I already have the feeling that this is going to be the adventure of a lifetime.
While Delhi is sure to be amazing, I’m most excited about going to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I will be staying for 3 months. Nepal has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, including Mount Everest and the Himalayas. Then of course there is the culture–a spectacular combination of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam–all three of which I will be studying vigorously.
I’ll be posting about some of the most recent events happening in the world very soon. Until then, you can find me on twitter. I also plan to blog extensively about my trip.
I found this video on Twitter. Its a protest that took place in Tehran yesterday.
This morning, CNN removed its special “Iran coverage” section of its website. The global community seems more fascinated with Bernie Madoff and the rash of celebrity deaths. Ahmadinejad, who makes Madoff seem like decent person, continues to make a mockery out of the people of his country. Today he suggested that Neda’s death should be “investigated”.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked Iran’s cleric-controlled judiciary on Monday to investigate the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, who became an icon of Iran’s ragtag opposition after gruesome video of her bleeding to death on a Tehran street was circulated worldwide.Ahmadinejad’s Web site said Soltan was slain by “unknown agents and in a suspicious” way, convincing him that “enemies of the nation” were responsible.The regime has implicated protesters and even foreign intelligence agents in Soltan’s death. But an Iranian doctor who said he tried to save her told the BBC last week she apparently was shot by a member of the volunteer Basij militia. Protesters spotted an armed member of the militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, Dr. Arash Hejazi said.
How many more people are going to have the die in vain while the world shrugs its shoulders and lets out a cold sigh of indifference?
I’ve come to realize that I have devoted my blog to giving the Iranian people a voice these last few weeks. Blogs are not like the news, which has unfortunately found much more interest in celebrity deaths and the scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Instead, blogs can stay focused on the most important things.
Amidst all this, the Iranian people are not giving up…and their supporters are not giving up either. On Thursday, I attended a rally in San Francisco’s Union Square for a third time. it was my third event in 3 days. Just two days earlier, Iranian-American City Councilman Ross Mirkarimi succeeded in pushing the city to adopt a resolution in support of the protesters in Iran.
The evening concluded with the release of hundreds of green and black balloons, which dispersed above the city.
Meanwhile, in Iran today, thousands of people rallied outside of the Khobr Mosque, shouting slogans against Ahmadinejad and Khamenei and demanding that their votes be recognized.
Here’s what happened. Remember, its impossible for news sources to verify what’s happening in Iran right now because of extreme reporting restrictions. But the eyewitness accounts of thousands of people taking part in this rally appear to be very true. Even in light of brutal government repression, which President Mousavi’s (that’s the fitting title) wife has termed “martial law”, the Iranian people are still trying to change their country for the better.
Here are a couple more photos from Thursday’s rally…
I thought this was a really great photo…hats off to the designer of the sign.