An Agreement to Disagree

I think we can all agree that, for the most part, politics suck.

When I was younger, I think I just sort of fell into agreement with my family’s political views; one, because I didn’t pay any attention to what was happening, and two, because it didn’t matter to me at that point in my life anyway.

Now that I try my best to stay up-to-date with news, I can actually comprehend what it means, and I feel the effects of the things that are going on in the world around me. Now that I can form opinions for myself, they’ve begun to differ from what I grew up with.

For the most part my parents are very open to discussions and they do their best to give me unbiased responses, but some others in my family aren’t so supportive.

I try to stay away from discussing politics with these members of the family, but sometimes things come up unintentionally. For example: tonight at dinner, I began talking about hopes for my future, such as what I want to study and where I want to go to college, possible careers, where I want to travel, etc.

When I mentioned that one day I want to join the Peace Corps they sort of laughed at me. That’s when our conversation took a turn. Instead of discussing my hopes and dreams for my life ahead of me, I was bombarded with questions like, “Why do you want to join the Peace Corps? Why don’t you intern at Wall Street?” and “Don’t you care about money? Well you will once you have to provide for yourself.”

Image via Bubble-Jobs.co.uk

As a result of those responses, I have a message for the family members in question: Since I decided to keep my larger opinions to myself after the dinner incident, here are a few things that I hope you will someday understand.

First and foremost, I am fully aware that for my entire life I have been financially secure and I haven’t had to worry about anything involving money. I know that this is a result of a lifetime of your hard work, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Although some of our opinions are quite different, I still respect yours; your opinions are valid.

I’m not sorry that my views differ from yours, but I’m sorry that you completely disregard them. It really doesn’t matter to me that you have different values, so long as you don’t tell me that my own are wrong.

While you are probably correct in that a lot of my opinions are somewhat influenced by my peers, that doesn’t mean that I can’t think for myself.

It’s fair for you to be disappointed that I don’t agree with you, but it’s not fair for you to be disappointed in me as a person. The way I vote does not determine who I am, nor does it determine my character.

Half of my relatives just give away their vote and let someone else decide their views for them. Shouldn’t you be happy that I can think for myself? Shouldn’t you be happy that I don’t believe everything I’m told and that I know what is important to me? Shouldn’t you at least be happy that I believe in something?

Please don’t disregard what I say to you. Please don’t blame my opinions on my age. Please don’t brush off my contradictions with “Oh, she’ll come around one of these days.”

Please don’t look at me differently because of what I think. Differences in opinions should be accepted, not criticized. If our minds were all the same, nothing would ever go anywhere.

Diversity, whether it be found in people, in life experience, or in beliefs, is a wonderful thing.

Advertisements

A Valuable Education

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of the word education is “The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” If you asked high school students what the point of going to school is, I have a hunch that the majority of answers would be “to get good grades.” Why is our immediate response that school is not about learning, but about grades?

The purpose of children and young adults going to school is to receive an education that betters our knowledge and helps us become well-rounded individuals. As time has passed and classes have become more rigorous and competitive, the value behind school/education has been lost. The purpose of attending class is no longer to learn new information, but to memorize facts and then spit them back out on a test.

Education has become a competition. With advanced placement and honors courses, students are so focused on earning good grades and getting into universities that they often feel like the purpose of it all is not to learn about world history, calculus, chemistry, etc, but to pass world history, calculus, chemistry, etc.

The grading system was put in place as a way to force students to learn and understand material. I realize the significance of this, but I feel like there is a better way to convey information that will still make a lasting impression and will create a less stressful, more beneficial environment for learning – one that makes students want to learn instead of feeling like they are being forced to learn.

Although the first definition of education mentions “systematic instruction,” the second definition, in my opinion, is far better. Simply put, education is “an enlightening experience.” Now, this might just be my teenage angst speaking, but usually when I come home from school I hardly feel enlightened.

Image via IllustrationSource.com

Personally, I feel like there comes a time when we learn as much as is necessary and beneficial in terms of academics (unless someone’s passion involves a subject that they would then go on to pursue, like a career in science or something of the sort) and the only intelligence that can be further gained is through life experience.

I believe that there is great value in traveling the world and seeing other cultures. I hope to travel all over the world within my life, but not just to the most most desirable places. I want to go to Mumbai, India, where millions of people live in an extremely compact area, or to rural Africa or South America where people live without electricity or running water. Seeing how people live all around the planet, experiencing their cultures and understanding how different peoples’ lives compare to one another: these are the things that help shape a person’s intelligence, skills, morals, and opinions.

I am extremely thankful and privileged to receive the education that I have and I would never want to compromise that. I’m not saying that I’m extremely intelligent (I’m not) and I’ve already learned everything I need to know (I haven’t), but I’ve come to a point where I feel like the best way for me to grow as an individual is to experience all that the world has to offer. But seeing as I am only just beginning my second year of high school, I guess I’ll have to keep up with the classes and grades for a little while longer.

 

Branded Feminism

When I was five, my mom bought a silver iPod with bulky, rounded corners and a perpetually dirty screen. I would always listen to her vast array of songs while sitting in a shopping cart at the grocery store or in Walmart. On special occasions, like my birthday and Christmas, she’d let me pick songs that we could buy the music videos for. And more times than not, I’d pick a song by Taylor Swift.

Back in her country days, Taylor Swift was a drama-free, curly-haired bundle of joy. I thought she was just the coolest anyone could get. However, as she got older, (and I as well) my opinion of her changed.

I grew up with my sister constantly educating me about different aspects of feminism, from the everyday struggles of women of color to how to have inclusive discussions about class, race, sexuality, and gender. So, when Taylor Swift proclaimed herself a feminist, I was excited to see what a person with her following could inspire. To my dismay, her “feminism” did the opposite of inspire.

In fact, recent studies have shown that when a major celebrity calls themselves a feminist, it makes people care less about feminism. Feminism has become a hot topic of discussion over the past few years. When a celebrity talks about feminism, it usually is just to build their image, not to bring awareness to its issues. Even if Taylor Swift is a feminist, some things she does demonstrate outdated views in equality, as feminism changes every day.

Photo Credit: http://www.cosmopolitan.com

For example, while her “girl squad” may promote girl power and sticking together, to many in Hollywood it is just like a high school clique. Stars, such as Miley Cyrus and Chloë Grace Moretz, have spoken out about it. One such star is the Disney star, Rowan Blanchard, who said, “The ‘squads’ we see in the media are very polarizing. Feminism and friendship are supposed to be inclusive, and most of these ‘squads’ are strictly exclusive. It makes feminism look very one dimensional…’Squad goals’ can polarize anyone who is not white, thin, tall and always happy.”

Mostly, this band of models and singers is just a way to uphold Swift’s pristine image. I mean, if Swift were really about girl power than why would she use her group of friends to diss other women, like in the “Bad Blood” music video?

As a women who believes in empowering other women, Swift is in plenty of celebrity feuds. With a list including Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, among others, she can’t just be an innocent girl getting bashed on. Naturally, people are going to disagree on social media, but the fact that remains is that Taylor never really owns up to her mistakes, and yet she still has a pristine image in the eyes of many.

Finally, she doesn’t have the best track record with treatment of people of color. The reason she invited Zendaya and Serayah McNeil (two very successful women) to be in her “Bad Blood” music video, was probably because she had recently been called out for only having white friends. In her “Shake It Off” music video, she had black women twerking all over the camera, but no black ballerinas. Of course there would be black girls twerking in her music video, but generally that form of dance isn’t seen as very classy, as opposed to ballet. Ballet is graceful and fluid, and there are plenty of black ballerinas that could be included. In Taylor’s “Wildest Dreams” video, which is literally set in Africa, there was not a single black person. While these examples aren’t very apparent and could be skewed in many ways, they reflect the microagression that people of color experience on a daily basis.

With all this said, I really hope Taylor’s feminism grows in the future. It’s been quite a while since she’s been on tour or released new music, so maybe she’s taking the time to think of new ways to help educate the masses about inclusive feminism.

The Bane of My Existence

If I had power over the entire world, here are a few things I would banish from existence:

1. Mushrooms

  • Mushrooms are the bane of my existence. They are fungus. Fungus! Yet people still choose to eat these smelly, squishy, brownish-gray lumps of decay. I will never, ever understand these abominations.
Photo Credit: http://www.deliciously-thin.com

2. Moths

  • Moths are terrifying. I don’t care what anyone says. These papery, powdery creatures flock to lights and windows at night, casting ominous shadows and evoking nightmares.
Photo Credit: http://www.pestcontrol4london.co.uk

3. Donald Trump

  • I don’t think any explanation is needed here. Just banish him.
Photo Credit: cdn1.theodysseyonline.com

4. Certain words

  • Some words are DISGUSTING. I don’t mean the definition, just how the word itself sounds when spoken. Take the words moist, ointment, stringy, and squelch. Now say them out loud. They just sound revolting. I hate saying them. I hate hearing them. I hate just typing them here. They should be taken out of the English language.
Photo Credit: cdn.petcarerx.com

5. Homework

  • This one is a cliché, I know. But let’s face it: no one enjoys homework. Not even teachers. It’s pointless. This mind-numbing, stress-inducing phenomenon benefits no one, and should be taken out of schools, and out of existence!
Photo Credit: ststephengrade3.weebly.com

To Each His Own

Photo Credit: core0.staticworld.net

When it comes to believing in God, the range of emotions and opinions that people have on the subject is enormous. Although it technically depends on one’s religion, opinions tend to have similarities.

Personally, I don’t believe in a tangible God who lives up in the sky or on some mountain and watches everyone intently. At least according to science, it’s inconceivable for a man to live perched in the clouds. Even if he managed to survive up there, he would have to be pretty darn old and quite observant in order to listen to and respond to everyone’s prayers.

Some believe that God represents more of a presence, which is a more comprehensible notion. I am not religious at all, but if I were to affiliate myself with one theory, it would be this: rather than some all-knowing man, God could be everything, or just something that surrounds everyone. Although it may not answer to prayers, it is the prayer itself, as well as the response, and even the words spoken.

As far as the Big Bang Theory is concerned, the world was created naturally. On the other hand, many still believe that a man generated everything there is in the world today. People are entitled to their own beliefs, and should never be discriminated against – it’s simply fascinating to see the motives behind different ways of thinking.

Food for Thought

All those controversies about what’s in your McDonald’s Big Mac or chicken nuggets are disturbing, sure, but it’s just as disturbing to have other’s unwanted opinions shoved in your face.

Super Size Me, for example, is a grotesque documentary following a man while he eats nothing but McDonald’s for a month. This proves a significant point, and is absolutely worth paying attention to.

However, for people who can’t afford healthier food than McDonald’s, hearing the fatal effect of their only food source is beyond depressing.

Wealthier members of society are parading around, throwing around argument after argument about how harmful McDonald’s is, yet providing no solution for those who have no choice but to consume it.

I agree that McDonald’s is unhealthy, and shouldn’t be eaten, if given other options. However, for those who have no other choice, I think that it is wrong to tell them what they’re doing wrong and provide no help. That is just as unhealthy.

Photo Credit: pbs.twimg.com