__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1


Write On, Downtown

A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus

Issue 5

April 2011 Editors-in-Chief

Rosemarie Dombrowski Catherine Rezza

Editorial Board

Lauren Dingess Jaclyn Freedman K.J. Kern Katherine Landingin Oonagh McQuarrie Cassidy Olson Cassandra Powers Grace Thornton Rebecca Wheeler

Graphic Designer

Deanna Johnson Mullican

Cover Photograph Sean Deckert

Contributing Artists Jonathan Alvira Sean Deckert

Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu


Write On, Downtown 2011: An Introduction Write On, Downtown is the student writing publication of Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. The journal’s mission, since its inception in 2007, has been to showcase exemplary writing projects produced by students of all levels and across various genres – from freshman compositions, to creative writing pieces, to literary review and analysis. Over the past five years, Write On, Downtown has presented students with an opportunity to truly persuade and inspire an audience comprised of peers, faculty, and the entire Downtown Phoenix campus community. The Write On, Downtown project also includes an editing internship that allows student editors to participate in the creative and critical processes that are integral to journal production. Essentially, Write On, Downtown is about emphasizing the strength and diversity of student voices and visions. The contents of the journal serve as representations of our unique and talented student body, and the following reflections serve as representations of our innovative and skilled editorial team.

Reflections on the Collaboration E.L. Doctorow once said that “writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia;” I believe that our goal as the editorial staff of this publication was to highlight student writing that made an honest attempt to make sense of the senseless, all while capturing the visionary, creative energy that is so salient on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

~Lauren Dingess As a transfer student and self-titled campus floater, I had never associated myself with any kind of ASU extracurricular activities. Through Write On, Downtown, I was able to not only be a part of something on campus, but able to be a part of something great. Our mission in this edition of Write On, Downtown was unique; we aimed to produce an edgy journal that was representative not only of the spirit of the Downtown Phoenix campus, but of the student experience in general. Through collaborations with my immensely talented peers and instructors, we have been able to see our once far-fetched dreams become a reality.

~Jaclyn Freedman


As you come up through school, you write a lot of papers, and you get grades for them, and then there’s this sense that they just kind of slip into nowhere. There’s a time when you think about them, and you think about not thinking about them, and you sit up with them on all-nights till your eyeballs hurt. And then you go to class, and half the room isn’t there, and you go up and put your little stapled stack into the larger stapled stack, and that’s basically it. Through publications like Write On, Downtown, some of those papers get pulled out of oblivion. They get reread, reconsidered, and talked about—even the ones that don’t end up getting picked for publication. And I don’t know, I think that’s pretty cool.

~K.J. Kern Joining the Write On, Downtown team, I had no idea what it would be like, but I was eager to get my feet wet in the publishing industry. This is the career path I’ve always wanted to take and I was so excited to know that I would finally see a glimpse of it. Although there were times when everyone disagreed, it was great collaborating with people I’ve only known for a few months and in that short time, I got to decide steps for my future.

~Kat Landingin Write On, Downtown is perhaps not the most central part of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, however, I think that working collaboratively and creating something is essential to life, and Write On, Downtown is an expression of that feeling. Many voices have contributed to make Write On, Downtown what you are holding in your hands, and not just those of the editorial staff. The voices of the authors and the photographers and the entirety of the Downtown Phoenix campus have contributed to this journal. As a staff, we have tried to pick the best submissions and take the pulse of this campus to produce something that I think is new and interesting and contains voices that deserve to be heard.

~Oonagh McQuarrie


Our editorial team, made up of nine editors and two supervisors, may have been small, but what we have accomplished with this edition of Write On, Downtown is anything but. Each and every one of us brought our own perspectives, opinions, and styles to the journal, and we created something that I think we can all say we were proud to have been a part of. With this edition of Write On, Downtown, our goal was to create something modern and dynamic. We chose a variety of writing styles, topics, and genres and presented them in a way that we hoped would make a connection with everyone on the Downtown Phoenix campus. We wanted this edition to reflect the diversity of the campus and the students, faculty, and staff who make it unique. Thanks to all of the writers, designers, and readers who make this journal possible.

~Cassidy Olson At an institution as large as ASU, it’s hard to achieve recognition. Fortunately for the Downtown Phoenix campus, Write On, Downtown, in its fifth year, functions as a showcase for talented students creating current, relevant, and exemplary works. The student body here wrote prolifically, and we as the editorial staff had the pleasure of combing through submissions for the best pieces. And hey, I think we did quite alright.

~Cassandra Powers

One dramatic reading to make us kin.

~Grace Thornton When joining Write On, Downtown, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. However, when we began the editing and creative process, I realized what makes this journal complete is one person’s idea growing into something bigger than expected, everyone’s opinion coming together to make something great, and something as small as a title, a picture, or a font changing it into something completely new.

~Rebecca Wheeler


The 2011 issue of Write On, Downtown marks the beginning of a new faculty partnership defined by our passion for the craft of writing and the art of editing. Collectively, we have edited a variety of publications – both professional and creative in nature – and possess twenty-four years of teaching experience in the composition, literature, and creative writing classroom. This year, the student editors have provided us with a new lens through which to view the downtown campus community and have allowed the editing team to reconceive the journal accordingly. This has afforded us a rare opportunity to fuse our interests and areas of expertise, providing us with one of the most gratifying experiences of our career.

~Rosemarie Dombrowski and Catherine Rezza

Acknowledgments The editors of Write On, Downtown would like to express our gratitude to Deanna Johnson Mullican, graphic designer for University College, for her continued partnership with the editorial team as well as her dedication to the production and publication of the journal. We would also like to thank Mary Ehret for her continued support of our celebratory luncheon and conference. Additionally, we would like to thank Frederick C. Corey, Dean of University College and Director of the School of Letters and Sciences, for his continued support of our endeavors. Lastly, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the director of Languages and Cultures, Dr. Barbara Lafford, whose support, encouragement, and direction has been invaluable to us over the past five years. We would also like to thank our wonderfully talented team of student editors whose passion and commitment inspired and expanded our creative vision and critical endeavors. Finally, we’d like to thank all of the students and photographers who submitted their work for this publication and who continue to make our teaching experiences on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus some of the most positive and enjoyable of our careers.


Contents create

Lockdown

by K.J. Kern

Autosapien

by Vikram Amritraj

Beary Well Traveled by Jaclyn Freedman

Swimming Colors by Saul Marquez

Reward

by Bryan Larson

The Census Taker by Daniel Torres

11 15 20 22 25 26

read

Tales of an Addict by Amina Ziri

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me by Liza Brown-Moore

31 33

protect

Deadly Consequences: An Argument Against the Use of Rubber Bullets in Crowd Control by Jacob Wipf

Abortion Limits in Europe by Sarah Hollowell

39 44

enforce

Lighter Punishments are Crucial for Teens Caught Sexting by Brittany Everhart

First the Dog, Then the Neighbor by Danielle Gilbert

53 57


eat

The Cultural Influence on Obesity in America by Kevin C. Keller

Vegan Diets: Ethics and the Environment by Margaret Kilman

65 70

advocate Safe Havens

by Sydney Swan

Social Stigma: Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia in Today’s Society by Isabelle Murray

Taking a Step Outside by Kaitlyn Knudson

77

83 88

watch

Shutter Island: A Review by Paige Szymkowski

Don’t Remember Me by Amy Ostroff

Afro Samurai: A Review by Travis A. Pruitt II

Jersey Shore: A Beautiful Mess By Simona Skillingstad

97 100 104 107

dream

The Ultimate Sacrifice by Leinea Benjamin

My American Dream by Julissa Villaverde

113 117


create


Lockdown by K.J. Kern

“Look, I know it’s hard, dammit I do, but you need to be quiet right now. We all just need to be quiet.” Right now Allyn Carter doesn’t know that he’ll be saying that in some thirty-seven or so minutes. Right now he’s at a desk on the twelfth floor of some office building that’s serving as a campus for one of those for-profit colleges. He’s going to school for communications but he doesn’t know what he wants to do with the degree, he just thought he’d better take advantage of this G.I. Bill program. The slice of loose-leaf that he wasn’t taking notes on about right-triangles trembled a little. A window stood at the front corner of the room, adjacent to the door. The instructor always kept it open when the weather allowed for it, something about the helpfulness of remembering that there’s a world out there and we all have a role in it. The phone rang. “Hello? Hel—oh.” The class slipped into half-whispered chitchat as their teacher stood with the phone to his head, listening. He let the automated voice twice assure him that “this was not a drill” before setting the receiver back into its wall cradle. He drew in a breath and caught a glimpse of the stiff carpet before addressing the class. “Everything’s fine, somebody’s in the building, we’re going into lockdown. It’s fine, probably just some crazy that wants to feel special. Security will handle it.” The professor turned the lights off, locked the door, and didn’t know that security was already dead. Procedure was to sit on the floor in a huddle in the corner of the room, away from the point of entry. The inappropriate guy in class noted that “it’s like Anne Frank’s attic up in here!” A few laughed, welcoming the distraction; most didn’t seem to notice. The crazy arrived on their floor. Thin walls that usually served as an indicator that one of the neighboring classes got out early had become the all too flimsy buffer to a horrifically foreign auditory assault. Offensively un-muffled shots pierced the dead air. People screamed like if they could just get loud enough they’d uncover some trace humanity in this monster and he’d go away. The crazy pressed on, spouting manifesto excerpts like he’d pulled them from a school shooters’ message board and scratched them onto index cards. 11


Lockdown

“1207! ON DECK!” This was them. Allyn’s eyes made a few slow sweeps to either side, having adjusted to the dark. He saw a pile of people, immobilized by the realization that they were about to become a pile of bodies, a news story, names on an underfunded memorial. Most of them were a little younger than he was, they hadn’t seen the things that he had, they weren’t meant to handle this. If he’d brought his military issue sidearm to class that day he wouldn’t have had to think on it much, but between his backpack and his phone and his wallet, he wasn’t quite equipped for the mission. He figured that the best weapon he had access to was his body, and throwing that against a gun—a gun wielded by some wayward fool who’s probably been obsessed with them since the fifth grade—could really only end one way. Don’t be a hero. “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.” That was Tammy. Most of the class found her annoying. She liked to talk, and whenever she did it was about her kid. She’d show up on Mondays and rip off a ripe anecdote of fresh out of high school single motherhood. They’d go, “aww,” while thinking that she must’ve been a whore, and they’d ask her questions like they almost cared about the answers, and they’d wonder what it would be like for the former prisoner of your belly to become the warden of your life. Allyn understood her though. He’d always smile when she showed him samples of the gallery of pictures she’d snapped with her cell phone. He’d always be ready with some follow up questions to dig a little deeper into a story that the rest of the room was already working on trying to forget. He’d always reply to accounts of preschool triumph with a “damn, kid’s probly gonna’ be president some day.” Not a drip of sarcasm in the words. He understood. He had one at home too. And every day Allyn would sit and think about the life he could put together for his son to live. And every day he was grateful that it was his job to watch it all happen. And he and Brenda would sit on that small cement stoop and talk about everything that their son was and everything that he might someday be. And they’d agree that they’d been through enough torrential garbage to keep seven or eight couples occupied, but they couldn’t even be mad at it since all of that brought them all of this. And then they’d slip back inside and kiss their little sleeping soldier on the forehead and just stand there in his room—watching, listening. And it was at these moments that Allyn would promise himself that his son wouldn’t be another kid that only knows Dad through semi-annual, approximate birthday phone calls. He wanted to be there; he had to be there. He had to be there to explain the difference between passing and rushing yards. He had to be there to convince Mom that this particular R-rated movie wasn’t so bad once you got past the violence and the language and the sex. He had to be there to tell the young man that his lip-pierced prom date seemed like a really nice girl and they’d probably have some fascinating conversations, and to drive safe and get home in one logical piece. He had to be there.

12


Lockdown

“I wish she was old enough to talk,” said Tammy, gripping her phone in a shaky hand, “if she could talk I could tell her I love her and know that she understood.” Allyn scanned the room again. It was full of sons, and daughters, and at least one mother. He got up and positioned himself next to the yet un-breached door, back flush against the wall. Looking at his peers, he showed them his palm and outstretched fingers. Stay. He then put one of those fingers to his lips and closed his eyes. Quiet. The disconnected ramblings of a desperate creature seeped through the door, not as loud as they were earlier, but closer. Knowing that at this point the intruder had likely gotten pretty comfortable with getting through the locks in the building, Allyn braced himself. The first sliver of light that broke into what used to be a classroom was his cue. Allyn smashed into the gun-toting home wrecker, whose weapon then let out a number of bullets. Bullets that went in through Allyn’s skin and ripped through Pizza Nights, and crushed plans of a tree fort, and shredded karate class belt ceremonies. They were hollow points. The crazy couldn’t have weighed more than 140 pounds and the force of Allyn’s initial thrust was enough to send both of them toppling through the window. Two bodies—one dying, one about to be—fell through the air, a tangled heap of un-realization.

13


photo by Jonathan Alvira


Autosapien by Vikram Amritraj

Simon adjusted his glasses, wiping the fog and sweat from his face off of the thick lenses and brass frames. “It’s going to be a long night.” He slowly exhaled a tasteless brand of stuffy oxygen as he tried in vain to reposition himself on the itchy, tattered cloth recliner. The table next to him was just beginning to give off the slightly stinging odor of stale pizza cheese and rubbery chow mein soaked in dried soy sauce. Blindly throwing his arm over the table, his soft, unweathered hands hastily searched for the case of energy drinks he had delivered to his apartment that morning, or maybe it was the night before. He couldn’t really remember. Simon didn’t bother with inconsequential details like time anymore; he was a creator, and creators had no time for time. He popped the tab on the giant Lion energy drink and gulped the sugary, carbonated grape-flavored syrup, to which he had become addicted. Wiping the sticky substance off of his wet lips with the sleeve of his colorfully stained grey sweatshirt, his wide eyes returned to the flickering screens surrounding him. Swiftly stroking his wireless keyboard, every inch of the walls around the room illuminated in unison and displayed lines of scrolling text, computations, equations and algorithms. His long, slender fingers roamed the keyboard like the legs of a centipede, quickly crawling over the buttons as if guided by some supernatural force. Fueled by caffeine, Simon’s drowsy eyes raced across the bright screens around the dome-shaped room for what seemed like hours, until an earpiercing ringing reverberated through the musty air. He swung his chair around to one of the screens, which displayed a video graphic of an old touchtone phone vibrating and read, “Mr. Motoji calling.” Simon made a circling gesture toward the graphic with his right hand and a gray-haired Japanese man in a neatly pressed three-piece silver suit appeared on the screen. “Tsukurite-san! My favorite programmer, have you finished debugging update to traffic program yet?” “I’m working on it right now, Mr. Motoji. The interface is giving me a little trouble but I should have it online in no time.”

15


Autosapien

“Ahhh I know I can count on you, my most hard worker, but I need you to finish today, very urgent. Too many accident in last two week with Motoji system. America, Europe, China, Japan…already one million people injure or die from automated traffic system problem. Media is already saying it is no longer safe; people should start driving themselves again. This is devastating failure for Motoji, devastating failure. I give press conference later today saying top programmer at company is working on answer. You must complete today Tsukurite-san”. Simon caught himself midway through rolling his eyes at the request. He threw his head back and licked the last few jolting sips from the Lion drink before crushing and throwing it in a heap of crumpled, empty aluminum cans in the corner of the room. “Mr. Motoji, with all due respect, you can’t rush a project like this. There are so many variables to take into account, so many unknown reactions and responses when trying to make a program that will satisfy the needs of billions. When I created that traffic system, that…that work of art, I didn’t have any deadlines, and just look at it now. It’s used in every country over six continents, servicing fifteen billion people worldwide, and the media’s up in arms over a measly one million of them? They’re blowing the whole thing out of proportion and you know it. Give me one more week and the updates will be perfect as always.” Mr. Motoji’s concerned but cordial demeanor suddenly curled down into a menacing grimace. Under the overhead light in his office, the wrinkles in his face spread elongated shadows down the sides of his olive-loaf cheeks and his thin, slicked back gray follicles. “Simon, you do not forget who answer to who! You do not forget who is paying your check! That state of art techno-dome you eat and sleep and shit in is because of me, Motoji! This is MY company, MY reputation, MY ass on line. If you forget, Motoji Inc. is biggest manufacture of automated system worldwide. Automobile, airplane, packaging, delivery … everything everyone use now is programmed by us. If customer lose faith in one product, they lose faith in ALL product, understand? So if you want to keep working for Motoji, you finish update today and upload by 5am tomorrow morning or YOU can find new job somewhere else”. “Please, Mr. Motoji, just one more wee-“ “5 A M!” The box on the screen with the image of Mr. Motoji’s face condensed and disappeared while the graphic of the old touchtone phone hanging up reappeared. One million people? One million people was nothing to Simon. Statistics. In a mind which views the world in calculations and mathematical formulas, people were no more than inputs and outputs in the equation of existence. In fact, it was beneath a visionary as unique as Simon to have so miniscule an

16


Autosapien

outlook on life, that the flesh and blood of one individual would be so important. He was a creator, and long ago he had accepted that in his most awesome creations, there would inevitably be some destruction. But as long as the contribution of his creation outweighed the loss, satisfaction would never cease to seep from the center of his being. One million data points in red, fifteen billion in black. Hardly a cause for concern. Simon let out a long, pained groan, leaning his head back and roughly running his hands through his thick, matted, coffeecolored hair, wondering how he had gotten himself into this position. Simon had worked for Motoji for almost eight years, where he had started out as somewhat of a genius—a certified overnight success—discovered during an internship at Motoji Inc. in Tokyo during a semester abroad in his sophomore year at MIT. At nineteen, he developed a computer code that would change the way people would live and interact with each other forever. “Autosapien,” as Simon described it, was a way to eliminate the useless, time-consuming actions humans found themselves burdened with, and to use one’s time more productively. The code allowed for wireless control of small or large-scale systems through the use of an operator’s subconscious. In simple terms, Autosapien was something like artificial intelligence, only that it wasn’t exactly artificial in the strictest sense of the word. The code was nearly flawless, and unbelievably versatile, with the ability to be implanted in almost every aspect of society and be controlled with minimal supervision. The first use of the technology was in Japanese military defense. After stunning success in training operations, it was employed for tactical advantages overseas, and with Motoji holding sole rights over the code, nations were scared into submission as the conglomerate strong-armed purchases of one company after the other, dominating a monopoly over all forms of manufacturing and production. Within a few short years, almost every Motoji owned company in the world using any form of traditional manual labor replaced their employees with Autosapien technology. In another couple of years, Autosapien breached the civilian boundary, becoming a must-have household upgrade, effectively eliminating any need to physically do anything. Cleaning, shopping, cooking, driving and any other type of physical activity could be done autonomously with the use of Autosapien technology. By twenty-seven years old, Simon was the creator of the single greatest technological masterpiece of the 22nd century, and he knew it. Beginning to get caught up in his own genius, he used his creation in every aspect of his own life. He replaced the outside world for an environment he felt more comfortable in—a battle station where he could hone his craft, or the “Dome,” as he would begin to call it, became his only sanctuary, his place of work and his place of rest. It was located in one of the only underground apartment complexes in Tokyo ever built, and Simon was the last tenant remaining, as other occupants couldn’t bear the isolation or the lack of windows and open air. At first he would spend a few months at a time in the Dome, toiling away at upgrades and

17


Autosapien

future programs, while living on automated food delivery systems. After a period of time, however, Simon had completely ceased leaving. Years had gone by and he stayed barricaded in his apartment, never leaving his room of technological security, communicating with the world through an array of high definition cameras, screens and monitors. Locked away from the uncertainty of life’s dilemmas, he was no longer subject to the abuse and ridicule he was faced with in his school days. He felt comfortable. He felt safe. Simon was no longer just an afterthought in someone else’s story: some jock that threw the game-winning touchdown or some bitch prom queen who won every popularity contest. Big deal. In his solitude, he didn’t even need to acknowledge that these people existed; instead by reducing his world to this one, empty, screen-lit room, he would always be, without fail, the absolute center of attention. His only problem however, was that he was subject to Mr. Motoji’s every demand. Because of the stringent intellectual property agreement he had with Motoji Inc. when he developed Autosapien, he was contractually obligated to stay with the company for as long as he expected to receive the benefits of his success. “Fucking Motoji. If he had any God damn idea what he wanted me to do …” Simon’s train of thought trailed off as he popped open another Lion and grabbed his keyboard. He glanced over at the digital clock on one of the screens for the first time since he could remember. His mind shifted back to the task at hand. “3pm … how the hell am I going to get through this in fourteen hours?” Living alone for years, he had become fairly comfortable having discussions with himself. “I’m the fucking man, that’s how.” Simon meticulously cracked each of his knuckles and set forth furiously running his fingers across his keyboard. His eyes zoomed from one end of the room to the other, barely even blinking, as he scoured through hundreds of thousands of lines of code. He was a machine. Hours upon hours passed while he corrected incongruencies, deleted repetitious commands and formulated new processes … time had a way of moving fast for Simon when he was plugged in. Around 4:45am, his eyelids started to feel like lead weights on an icy slope. He had been awake for nearly three days and hadn’t ingested anything but caffeine and sugar. Looking over his work one last time, his rapid, hummingbird eyes slowed to a crawl. His heart rate began to slow. He was fading. Fading fast. As senior head programmer in command of operations, Simon was given the ability to remotely update the entire system from his Dome, a dangerous power he hardly lamented, but one Motoji trusted him explicitly with. Simon mustered his last ounce of consciousness to drag his mouse over the “execute” button. Closing his eyes, he could see the artificial blue background lighting from his monitors through his eyelids, turning what should look like pitch black into a sort of wavy navy blue. He dreamily went through his mental checklist of updates for the traffic program. 18


Autosapien

“Hmmm, check … check …” Simon let out a ravenous yawn, “I think that’s it,” not realizing he had forgotten the most critical of changes, something that would have never slipped his mind, had he taken more time. No matter, Simon was at ease. That all-encompassing blue computer light made him feel like he could do no wrong, like nothing could harm him. That light, which wrapped him every night like a warm blanket and woke him up every morning with a gentle nudge, was his greatest security in the Dome. Content with himself and giving in to his exhaustion, he relaxed every muscle in his aching hands and body … Click.

19


Beary Well Traveled by Jaclyn Freedman

I long ago accepted your coarse, short brown hair, matted in place for over two decades. I accepted your stiff nose and the welcome feeling your almost velvet brown, smooth paws offer in contrast. Although, I never could accept that people said you look mean, despite admitting that it may be true. Your dark brown, glass eyes; indifferent, but still accepting, seemingly everlasting—still, not mean. Your mouth however, I suppose I could see how that could be misconstrued. Stitched in medium brown, a horizontal line, barely smirking downwards in the corners. Certainly not smiling, but just aware. Your thick belly offering comfort through uncountable squeezes over a mess of time. Your arms, too impudent to ever flail, hind legs that have never taken you anywhere, but regardless you are well traveled for a stuffed bear. Your right arm is the only part reflecting the tumultuous nature of your life. Your battle wound; where a white stuffing emerges through an eight year olds jagged stitches, somehow still keeping it in place fourteen years later. Occasionally, your vacant eyes beg that I get your arm professionally fixed, but to do so would be to hand you over and that’s how you got into this mess in the first place. Stuffed in the maroon Suburban amidst six bodies and three dogs on an agonizing journey to an icy paradise. Using your body to drone out the sound from the blasting 14-inch T.V.; oddly propped on the arm rest and plugged in through the cigarette lighter, a contraption to say the very least. Years later, it’s hard to pin point exactly what started the fight that left you moderately amputated; we were a newly blended family, with Cale and I less than a year apart. The other two siblings (the eldest and the youngest) were keen in emotional hysterics, while Cale and I favored physical battles. That day, stuck in that car for an eight hour drive up, down, through, and around the mountains, you became the victim. Cale had gotten you in his possession, but not all of you, just your already worn arm. As I tugged, he pulled; his startling strength showing itself as the car became silent except for the sound of tearing. There, gleaming like blood to my eyes, was a deluge of cotton.

20


Beary Well Traveled

That wasn’t the worst of it either. I used to tote you around everywhere, despite our being relatively the same size. I had the advantage of standing upright and you however, were dragged along; through dusty dirt filled Arizona backyards, the tangy smell of which forever burning my nose, through preschools and ball-pits. The routine of going to you for comfort was not something I had discovered on my own. Rather, my father taught me when I was maybe four years old. My room was dark, princess themed if memory serves. Bed on the right, to the left a nightstand with my Nickelodeon “Slime Time Live” purple clock/radio placed on it, complete with accompanying green slime. Bed covers, predictably The Little Mermaid, and you; lying on my bed. As I pouted over some disagreement that was had over nothing, Dad emerged from the florescent hallway, sitting on the side of my bed while handing me you to hug as he described “compromise” and all that it meant. From then on I squeezed you tight every night, unaware that you were evolving into a Petri dish. You were my dad by proxy, due to mere convenience. More than reliable, you were grounded by your own limitations in a way that I knew meant you would never leave me as the first one had. As I grew older, you would reappear from whatever hiding spot I had placed you in whenever a situation became too much. When prepubescent emotions took over and I didn’t speak to my mom for days, you were a companion. When I spent high-school nights sneaking out of windows; a five foot drop from my bathroom window into a treacherous desert and an intoxicated climb back, you were diligently waiting up for my return. When I dropped out of college, falling-head first into eighteen year old infatuation, you were there; snuck into the bottom of my delicates box as we moved into a roach infested apartment we could barely afford. And when I grew jealous of my friends and their corky father/daughter relationships, I had you; who never disliked a boyfriend I brought home, never grounded me for a bad grade, and never scowled your already narrow eyes with disappointment. Maybe its due to my final, gradual descent into adulthood but as I brought you out to write this essay, I couldn’t help but think of all you’d been through, from your view. Maybe you blamed the cold that day for your weak arm, maybe you were just as mad as my mother when I crawled out windows, but your lacking a voice box allowed my fourteen year old mind to assume not disappointment, but indifference. These days, I seem to lose you within my room. You’ve been replaced with a living, breathing, barking, bear of a dog who kicks and howls in her sleep. Your dark brown eyes are eerily similar to each other, but your eyes are uneven, and regrettably lack life. I begin to feel bad for your place on the top shelf of my closet, a view you can’t enjoy and chosen solely due to my naive nature, as I move you to your new prominent home, amidst the pillows and the pit-bull on my bed.

21


Swimming Colors by Saul Marquez

They said that we got in at a good time. Early June is nothing like mid-July. I didn’t buy it. June, July—what was the difference, really? It was still going to be hot. The heat waves boiled over the surface of the rocky path, curling into my shoes so that my feet screamed with each step. Shade did not exist here. The sun beat down on my head, its rays stinging every inch of skin that they touched. And that’s how it was my entire trip down the Grand Canyon. It was part of our Boy Scout “super adventure.” Super adventure was just another way of saying, “really boring, strenuous and annoying trip that’s supposed to teach you a lesson but never does.” Needless to say, this was something that I did not want to be a part of. Three years prior to this particular trip, I moved to Queen Creek. That meant a new troop. And, although three years had passed, I still wasn’t partial to any of the other guys. The last thing I wanted to do was spend three days with them in the Grand Canyon. “The Havasupai Falls will be worth all of it,” said our adviser, a smile spread over his face. He was a generally optimistic guy, but I knew that he had to be optimistic. He was young, but his head full of gray hair suggested otherwise. I imagined that in a circumstance like that, optimism was the only way to stay sane. The first mile of the hike had already worn me down. The beginning of the trek was composed of steep switchbacks. My toes hit the front of my hiking shoes with each step, and by the time I had made it through that first mile, my toenails were searing in pain. It’ll be better, I thought. The rest of the way is mostly flat. Ten minutes had passed since completing the switchbacks when we reached a sign that read, “Eight Miles to Supai.” Supai wasn’t even our destination. It was the remote village at the bottom of the canyon—the rest stop. The Havasupai Falls were two more miles from that point.

22


Swimming Colors

My backpack weighed in at about forty pounds, which was a reasonable size for the trip. However, as I ventured further and further down the canyon, my hips became stiff and sore. I pulled at the waist straps on the backpack, but comfort didn’t follow. I supposed that would be due to the fact that I hadn’t properly adjusted the straps beforehand. Rule one of being a boy scout, I thought. Be prepared. Too late for that. Unfortunately, I had fallen flat on that rule when it came to my shoes as well. Merrell hiking shoes were supposedly the best. That statement stands true as long as you’ve broken them in. This was my first time using my new pair. My feet slid over the rough texture of my socks and within a couple miles, I could feel the stabbing heat on the sides of my feet. I didn’t have to see them to know they were there. Blisters. And, from what I could tell, they were huge. I was right. When we finally reached Supai, I investigated the damage. As I slid my shoe off my foot, I made out the walnut-sized lump beneath the surface of my sock. Thankfully, I only had two. Sitting nearby was a man with his son who also had his shoes off. His blisters were about the same size as mine, but he had more of them. I counted at least five, two on each side of his foot and one on the bottom. I could only imagine the pain. I dragged myself beneath a nearby tree where its shade dropped over me, a cooling sensation running through my body. My back and waist ached, my feet stung from the blisters, and to top it off, I was now running low on water. There was nothing fun, nothing exciting, and definitely nothing “super” about the hike down the canyon. I watched the man and his son pick themselves up off the ground. The little boy was no more than eight years old. Life flooded his cheeks and energy shot through his body as he laughed and waved his arms in the air. He was somehow OK. He had managed to go unscathed by the sun. He hadn’t been plagued with blisters, and yet he was wearing a generic brand of tennis shoes. How was it possible that a little kid like him could have somehow survived the eight torturous miles? And then I saw it. His father, who had just refastened his backpack onto his back, picked the boy up with two arms and balanced him on his shoulders. Well, I wouldn’t be so tired if someone carried me, I thought. Wrinkles formed over the man’s brow and he took in a deep breath. His steps faltered slightly, but only for a second or two. Within no time, his feet were hitting the ground at a constant pace. Before he was too far, I caught the small glimpse of a smile on his face. “Time to get moving! Two more miles to the falls!” shouted our adviser. The last two miles were the worst. They were plagued with hills and a sandy path that could only mean more blisters. However, I wasn’t too annoyed with the blisters or my backpack. Rather, the image of the smiling man kept occupying my thoughts. How was it possible that he could smile as he walked on blisters with both his backpack and his son on his back? 23


Swimming Colors

With all of the extra weight, it wasn’t surprising that we caught up to him almost immediately. The smile was still etched in his face. His eyes locked onto the walls of the canyon as if they were some sort of beauty. I did the same, hoping to find his secret written on the walls. They were brown and dull. Not exciting. And then something unexpected happened. “Have you ever seen anything so tall before? I mean, aside from a skyscraper? It’s cool to think that these were naturally formed,” he said, pointing. Maybe—maybe that was cool. But it was still sort of boring. We walked through a turn when we approached the first set of waterfalls. “Look at the colors,” said the man. This time the comment was for his son, but I followed his suggestion. Mixed in with the running water were streams of bright greens and rich blues. The colors bounced back and forth between the rocks at the bottom. A thin mist draped over the waterfall where more particles and flecks danced in the breeze. A few minutes passed when we approached an even larger waterfall. It was narrower than the first, but it was home to an even larger array of colors. It was as if someone had liquidized the colors of a rainbow. The colors dispersed as they crashed into a crystal clear pool at the base of the cliff. I hardly thought about it. My hand ran across my face and I felt the wrinkles of a foreign smile spread beneath my fingers. And then my eyes wandered back to the walls. Something had changed. I wasn’t sure if it was the fact that the canyon walls were now up against the spirited waters, but I saw streaks of bronze, copper and gold that I hadn’t noticed before. Sharp crevices ran up and down the rocky surface as if someone had carved a pattern into the sides. It was maybe another hour before we reached the camp. My concerns surrounding my backpack and blisters had been drowned out by the striking colors of the waterfalls. I had a new appreciation for the sun as it fell behind the walls, casting an orange glow over the sky. I imagined its rays touching the waterfalls and the soft azure colors that flowed through the water. I pictured the bronzes and golds that lavished the canyon walls. I realized that the Grand Canyon wasn’t the embodiment of evil. It hadn’t been about the blisters, the rough terrain, the heavy backpack, or the demanding heat. The Grand Canyon was the embodiment of beauty. It was about the way your breath escaped your lungs when you stood on the cliff’s edge. It was about the colorful murals that the sun splashed into the waters and onto the canyon walls. It was about the experience. And, as night swept over the orange sky and the stars dwindled against the deep blue expanse, I smiled as the colors swam beneath my eyelids and the soft sound of rushing water carried me into a long-awaited sleep.

24


reward by Bryan Larson

the starving flesh cures their disease and corrugated steel wired together with stench barbs their windows flesh art, hung on hooks stains the dirt my eyes red from the flying ants my wrinkled skin revealing its fossils the handsome, purple thieves throw cold circles for the goats and horned turbans rush the hungry shepherd to the Kings who eat as the markets cry for gold their priceless blades with ribbed bandits pike from their brows tired, rubber feet scurry for the skinny meat and the dirt and the creeks have shit left for the hungry

25


The Census Taker by Daniel Torres

The door opens—a flapping wing where, in the alcoves of the house, Children sit against the walls like stones. A light comes undone, and the women all flutter close To sing of their husbands dead at war. The record, the open-mouthed officious paper, Accepts its people without blame or fault, As a child rolls his dead eyes out over the hardwood floor. And the child’s eyes that roll, filthy against the floor Bump into other eyes across the mouth-black house Land in standing pools of more eyes, wading in fault, While the eyeless children continue to sit like stones, Holding down the corners of the room, hearing paper That flaps throughout the house, occasionally coming too close. Still, like seashells the women open and close Boxes of pictures, spreading them against the floor. But the flutter of one paper drags a thousand squawking paper Sheets out of the dusty trees, and a cough comes through the house— A downward rattle, against the floorboards, loose as stone While the mother meditates on how it is not the child’s fault. She prays to herself about how it is not the child’s fault. She wades into the darkness of the house, and, hearing that she’s come close, She picks up the baby like a stone. ‘This was our daughter Cecilia’ says another woman from the floor. The census taker hangs a smile across his politic face, across the room, Pretending to write her name also onto the paper

26


The Census Taker

He flits the tip of his pen, though the paper Spits away the names of the dead without fault. And as the mother returns fluttering from the dark end of the house She hovers: a wordless lapwing over the man’s shoulder, looking close, And, spying the blank, all the pictures wide across the floor Suddenly seem to her only like stones sitting silent over more stones, Stones pecked and prodded by the living, stones Stacked over stones into makeshift homes for the living. The paper Warbles its way outside, as the man steps from the floor— The floor which hums with the dusty breath of silent children, while a feather-thin fault Holds the door from coming to a complete close, And the man looks up the road like a row of sitting stars for the next house. The next house to be held at its corners by the next stones. Close by, the last house-light ruffles against the airless dark like paper Where a fault in the masonry stamps and forgets, rattling the floor.

27


photo by Sean Deckert


read


Tales of an Addict by Amina Ziri

A New American Gothic tale employs a distressed young female pursued by a predatory male figure who replaces the archetype of a monster or demon. The New American Gothic movement uses allusions to pop culture as a way to differentiate from the traditional Gothic movement, while still preserving some traditional gothic features. In Kate Braverman’s Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta, the male character’s role aligns with that of the Big Bad Wolf in the traditional tale of Little Red Riding Hood. In Tall Tales, the male character works to distract the female character from recognizing the true nature of his intentions; the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood masquerades as the young girl’s grandmother in an attempt to distract from his true nature. The traditional gothic elements contained in Tall Tales work to further the sinister tone of the piece. The gothic elements are as follows: The persecuted maiden, the satanic villain, and physical/ psychological terrors. The female protagonist serves as the persecuted maiden in the story, while the male antagonist acts as the quintessential villain. The first time the audience is aware that the female protagonist is fundamentally vulnerable is when the dialogue exposes a part of her that is inherently weak; she is an addict. “I’m a cocaine addict.” The protagonist’s addiction continues to rattle her senses and maintains a presence within her life. This piece of information alludes to the fact that, as the story progresses, her past will resurface to haunt her. Lenny, the male antagonist, makes sure of that. “You don’t want to get high … let me know when that changes … I got the best dope in the world.” Lenny functions as the satanic villain in the story. His character is ominous and seemingly shows up in every scene like a predator waiting for the kill. “‘I’ve had my eye on you’ … she wondered how he knew that she would be there.’” Lenny seems to possess omniscient qualities. “You think I’m stupid … You got an hour. You don’t pick that kid up for the dance school until four … I know all about you. I know your routine. I been watching you for two weeks.” Lenny preys on his female counterpart because he knows he can; he senses her fragility. He realizes how easy she makes it for him. “I want to date you. I probably

31


Tales of an Addict

want to marry you. You got a boyfriend, I got to hurt him … I’m going to cut off his arm and beat him with it.” She does not spurn his advances. She remains silent, submissive. “She was thinking that he must be drawn to her vast emptiness, could he sense that she was aching.” Lenny stalks and manipulates her. He breaks her down until she crumbles. Lenny becomes what she craves but also what she loathes. He replaces her cocaine addiction to become an addiction himself. He’s the malignant force throughout the text and symbolically acts as the monster, a feature typically found within a traditional gothic piece. Lenny also serves as the protagonist’s physical and psychological terror throughout the story. “You want to get in over your head. You want to see what’s on the other side. I’ll show you. I’ll take you there. It’ll be the ride of your life.” Is Lenny a metaphor for how the protagonist psychologically cannot overcome her cocaine habit or is he the physical enabler to her addiction? I believe him to be both. The protagonist sees Lenny and her addiction as one in the same. “It occurred to her that he was sick…later you can have your own war stories. I can be one of your tall tales. I can be the tallest.”. Lenny potentially could be an addict hoping to drag the protagonist back into the murky depths of addiction. He wants her to suffer just as he does. Lenny takes the form of both the manifestation of her addiction and as her elusive predator. He arrogantly remarks that “you don’t need to know what time it is. You’re with me.” Everything that Lenny says appears to have a double-meaning. Lenny is speaking as the addiction itself and as the predator. “She trembled when she thought about him” (4) just as an addict trembles when he or she cannot feed the addiction. “You promised to respect my life. To recognize my discrete borders” (9). When Lenny shows up to the narrator’s home unannounced, he literally brings the addiction to the protagonist’s doorstep. He shows up at her home and attempts to intrude upon the last piece of sobriety she possesses. Her addiction knows no borders. The gothic elements in this tale enable character development and enrich the plot. The persecuted maiden, the satanic villain and physical/psychological terrors are staples of the New American Gothic. The female protagonist comes to realize the true nature of her addiction. It “… knows you and where you live and it’s never going to forget.” As long as she remains susceptible to its advances, her addiction will never allow her to be free. It will continue to manifest itself into another form.

32


Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me by Liza Brown-Moore

During a recent company trip to Africa, a friend gave me a copy of the book Same Kind of Different as Me. While I needed something to read for the grueling seventeen-hour flight from Johannesburg to Phoenix, the depiction on the front cover of a black man standing by a railroad crossing and the synopsis, “a modern day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together,” (Hall, Moore, & Vincent, 2006) did not interest me. I tossed the book in my briefcase and promptly forgot about it for several months. When I found it again, curiosity got the best of me. I opened to page one and began reading. And reading. And reading. What a surprise this braided memoir turned out to be! It didn’t take me long to realize I should not have judged this book by its cover. The story of “two men who form an unlikely friendship resulting from charity and challenged by tragedy” (J.A.H., AudioFile, 2008) gave me a greater awareness of the plight of the homeless. The book should be passed around the globe to educate others as it did me. The two men are Denver Moore and Ron Hall. Denver is a man who lived as a sharecropper, a convict, and a vagrant homeless man. He harbors deep anger for injustices he suffered at the hands of plantation owners when he was growing up in Louisiana. Ron is a wealthy, jet-setting art dealer who travels around the world buying and selling art. Alternating evenly between chapters, each man tells his life story in his own voice. Ron’s sophisticated and well-read manner and Denver’s uneducated language offset each other brilliantly as they recount the events leading to their life-long friendship. Ron is a man who “bootstrapped his way from lower middle class country boy into the rarified atmosphere that oxygenates the lifestyles of the Forbes 400” (Hall et al., 2006, p.8, para.1). He is married to Deborah, whom the publishers of this book, Thomas Nelson Inc., refer to as “a godly woman who prayed, listened and obeyed” (2006). Upon learning of a recent affair Ron had while traveling 33


Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

alone in Europe, Deborah challenges him to be a better husband and Christian by asking him to join her as a volunteer at the local shelter. Ron doesn’t like the idea; however, his guilty conscience works to Deborah’s advantage. In the interest of saving his marriage, he reluctantly agrees, but not without letting the reader know his true feelings: Chef Jim and Deborah chattered easily while I mentally balanced the ledger between pleasing my wife and contracting a terminal disease. I had to admit that his idea seemed like an easy way to start – serve the evening meal once a week and we’d be in and out in three hours max. We could minister from behind the rusty steel serving counter, safely separated from the customers. And we could enter and leave through the rear kitchen door, thereby minimizing contact with those likely to hit us up for money. The whole arrangement seemed like a good way for us to fulfill Deborah’s desire to help the homeless without our touching them or letting them touch us. (Hall et al. 2006, p.84, para. 6)

Shortly after they begin serving at the shelter, Deborah has a dream about one of the homeless men she had encountered. Everyone at the shelter knows him as Denver Moore, and Deborah tells her husband that he must befriend Denver because in her dream she saw him as a wise man who “changes the city” (Hall et al., 2006, p.89, para. 5). Ron tries to work himself into Denver’s life, but friendship does not come easily. He looks for him whenever he goes to the shelter and tries to make casual conversation. He invites him out to meals, movies, and coffee houses. His attempts have an opposite effect on Denver. Denver doesn’t trust him and wonders if Ron and his wife are from the CIA. Why else would he be “gathering personal information, asking questions about his age, his birthday?” (Hall et al. 2006, p. 105, para.1). Eventually they do have coffee and Denver asks Ron about his motives. Ron explains that he is looking only for friendship. In one of the most powerful excerpts of the book, Denver describes his fear of becoming a white man’s friend: There’s something I heard ‘bout white folks that bother me and it has to do with fishin. I heard that when white folks go fishin they do something called ‘catch and release’. That really bothers me. Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show off to everybody that’ll look. Then we eat what we catch…in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water. So Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend. But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I will be one forever. (Hall et al., 2006, p.107, para. 2)

Same Kind of Different as Me is an enjoyable story with plenty of warmth and humor. However, as with most memoirs, it is not without its share of tragedy, and herein lies some slight irritation with the book. Ron Hall writes endlessly about his wife Deborah succumbing to a horrible death from liver cancer. There

34


Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

is no doubt that he adored his wife and was struggling to accept her imminent death, but his inability to let go and allow her to die in peace was disturbing. His descriptions of expensive, painful treatments and the many nights of bedside vigils were too long, sometimes to the point of boredom. Additionally, my Catholic school days did not prepare me for the many biblical references. Because I was unfamiliar with them, I was not always sure what message the author was trying to convey. I was also distracted by references that Denver made about his visitations with the dead. I wondered about the direction the book was taking. The following example is the most intriguing, but my inability to accept it as real made me question if there was not more than a little bit of fiction in this memoir: I’d been layin there for a coupla hours, still as a dead man and wide awake, when I heard something – footsteps in the room. For a minute, I froze up, real scared. But then a kinda peace came over me and I closed my eyes underneath the blanket. Then I felt the covers slip off my head and some soft hands, light as a feather, tuckin em in around my neck. But I kept my eyes closed. Then I heard the voice of a woman, a voice I recognized: “Denver, you are welcome in our home”. I opened my eyes and there was Miss Debbie, healed and beautiful. Then just as quick, she was gone. As sure as I’me tellin you this, it wadn’t (sic) no dream, ‘cause I wadn’t (sic) sleepin. It was a visitation. (Hall et al., 2006, p.206, para. 4)

Aside from these few personal quirks, I enjoyed the book and I had a hard time putting it down. At the end of the story, Denver and Ron forge an inseparable, loving friendship and they work together to raise over one million dollars to build a new mission and chapel for the homeless. They prove that each of us is capable of improving the lives of others if we open our hearts and our minds to the challenge. I closed the book with a lesson on humility, finding it a humbling experience to be able to appreciate my life today by simply reading the words of a homeless man.

References

Hall, R., Moore, D. , & Vincent, L. (2006). Same Kind of Different as Me, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. J.A.H. Audiofile (2008), Portland, Maine,. Retrieved from http://www.amzon.com/Same-Kind-Different-As-Me/dp/0849900417

35


protect


Deadly Consequences: An Argument Against the Use of Rubber Bullets in Crowd Control by Jacob Wipf

In October of 2000 a 13-year-old Palestinian boy in a crowd of protestors was shot and killed by Israeli police. A bullet had penetrated between the boy’s eyes, tearing through his brain and killing him instantly. Sadly, such incidents are not uncommon or surprising in this protracted and violent conflict; questions of excessive force used by one side or the other often come to the forefront of discussion. But in this case, the police were using a tool specifically designed to avoid such tragic accidents: rubber bullets (Aboud, et. al, 2002). Historically, a limited array of tools have been available to law enforcement and the military for peacefully dispersing or restraining potentially antagonistic crowds, often leaving those in charge of maintaining the peace with the difficult option of employing either too little force, and allowing a mob to run rampant, or responding with excessive force and potentially escalating the situation or causing serious unintended harm to demonstrators. The advent of non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets ostensibly bridges this gap. With such tools, modern peacekeepers can supposedly apply sufficient force to discourage even more violent and aggressive opposition without the potential for serious collateral damage associated with firearms and other powerful weapons. Non-lethal projectiles in particular, are meant to allow law enforcement to maintain sufficient distance between themselves and demonstrators to effectively ensure their own safety while not putting the protestors at serious risk. Yet despite the more humane and practical intentions of such tools it has been repeatedly demonstrated, as in the tragic case of the Palestinian boy, that the modern arsenal for crowd control is still far too unrefined to be considered a truly effective alternative. The most pressing concern regarding rubber bullets is their capacity to make a misnomer of their “non-lethal� designation. Rubber bullets were first employed by British forces against crowds in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, where their potential for unintended serious consequences quickly became apparent 39


Deadly Consequences

(“Globalization,” 2001). According to a 1972 report by Belfast surgeons, the use of rubber bullets in a particular incident killed one person, and caused serious injuries to numerous others. Damage included fractured skulls, broken jaws and noses, ruptured eye globes resulting in blindness, brain injuries, lung damage, and injuries to other internal organs (“Globalization,” 2001). Between 1970 and 1975, rubber bullet use in Northern Ireland resulted in a death rate of approximately one for every 18,000 rounds fired, and a serious injury rate of one per 1,100 rounds (“Globalization,” 2001). Those initial experiences prompted changes in the design and employment of rubber bullets in order to reduce the risk of serious negative consequences (Aboud, et. al, 2002). Subsequent uses of rubber bullets, including the Israeli experience nearly 30 years later, suggest that the advances made were not as significant as might have been hoped for. The boy killed in the October 2000 Palestinian protests was far from the only victim of the rubber bullets used in that instance. A study by a team of Israeli doctors of 152 people injured by rubber bullets during these protests found that two people had been killed and several others suffered serious injuries to the head, neck, and chest (Aboud, et. al, 2002). In some cases rubber bullets penetrated the flesh while in others severe internal injury was caused by the force of impact. The random distribution of the wounds across the bodies of those injured indicated the inaccuracy of rubber bullets to those conducting the study (Aboud, et. al, 2002). Ballistics examinations in the study also found that many of the bullets had been fired from under the prescribed range of 40 meters which the police had been explicitly instructed to observe (Aboud, et. al, 2002). One can empathize with frightened, stressed policemen who do not have the time or inclination to measure 40 meters when faced with an antagonistic, hostile crowd; their own safety must be carefully taken into account. But if the stress inherent in the situation of crowd control prompts frequent improper use of the weapon, then the weapon itself must be changed so it can not so easily cause serious and unintended damage. Though certainly “non-lethal” should not be stretched to imply “non-harmful,” especially given the sometimes violent nature of protests, the continued capacity for causing death and serious injury suggests that these tools far exceed their intended purpose and are in need of significant further revision or outright replacement. In spite of these dangers, the widespread employment of rubber bullets continues to this day. In October of 2009, protestors in South Africa asking the government for better living conditions were dispersed by riot police firing rubber bullets and tear gas (“Rubber Bulllets,” 2009). The use of these weapons is not only restricted to underdeveloped countries or to desperate crowd control situations. In the United States Pittsburgh police fired into crowds peacefully protesting at the G-20 environmental summit when they refused to disperse (“Covering,” 2009). Given the dangerous nature of these rubber bullets and their potential to cause serious harm, their use in any situation is questionable

40


Deadly Consequences

and risky. If they are to be used, it should only be when absolutely necessary to protect public safety, not merely as an expedient and more efficient method for impatient police forces to disperse peaceful crowds, such as the event that occurred in Pittsburgh. Rubber bullets are intended to keep law enforcement officials and the public safe, but when there is no discernable threat to either, their use is completely unjustifiable given the damage they can cause. It is not only the victims of the rubber bullets who bear the cost of their use. The governments and agencies employing them can suffer profound damage to their reputations both among their own people, and in the international sphere. The Israelis, continually under fire for a perceived excessive use of force against the Palestinians, were internationally condemned for the deaths in the October 2000 protests, as well as for serious injuries caused by the use of rubber bullets in other occasions (“Globalization,� 2001). The death of a 13-year-old boy hardly makes for good PR even among those who sympathize with the need to use force to put down some forms of insurrection and is particularly harmful among those already sensitive to the issue. Direct costs from lawsuits and other litigation resulting from accidents can also be harmful, particularly to individual agencies. For their own sake, governments would do well to develop tools that would eliminate the potential for such tragic accidents. The damage extends as well to the individual military and law enforcement figures instructed to use rubber bullets. Knowing their potential to cause serious harm, many individuals would be less inclined to actually fire into a crowd of protestors, resulting in a possible loss of control of the situation. Those that do fire and accidentally end up killing or maiming someone must carry that psychological trauma on their conscience for the rest of their lives. Soldiers and police firing conventional weapons when they must be used are at least somewhat prepared or forewarned of the consequences. After all, firearms are employed when lethal force is called for. But if the intent is merely to disperse some unruly protestors with non-lethal weapons, the shock is that much greater when a deadly accident occurs. The employment of devices with significantly reduced potential for such accidents will make those charged with protecting the peace feel more at ease, and spare them the psychological and emotional consequences of a tragic and deadly accident. The very nature of rubber bullets as a method of crowd control is also likely to make them counter-productive in certain situations. Non-lethal projectiles rely on brute force and the capacity to injure, even if not seriously, their targets. Firing into an already agitated crowd is unlikely to calm them down at all. If the protestors are more determined and don’t quickly disperse after rubber bullets have been employed, the crowd is likely to become more angry, more boisterous and potentially more violent, at which point the situation becomes more dangerous than ever for both law enforcement and the protestors, as more still dangerous methods and tools may be employed by both sides. If a protest is

41


Deadly Consequences

relatively peaceful, a serious injury or death caused by an accident with a rubber bullet may incite the crowd to actions that never would have happened otherwise. The use of such potentially dangerous brute force against force or peaceful resistance can cause an escalation that puts the safety of the general public and law enforcement at increased risk, exactly the sort of situation rubber bullets are designed to eliminate and avoid. Given their extreme potential for serious physical harm, rubber bullets cannot be considered a viable method for crowd control and should not be used in such situations. They can seriously injure and even kill innocent protestors, regardless of whether they are used as directed or not. Such unintended and drastic consequences damage the reputation and pocketbook of those governments and agencies that are responsible for their use, as well as the psyche of the individuals who must use such a crude, unpredictable, and dangerous tool to protect their own safety and that of the public. Rubber bullets should be taken out of the arsenal of normal crowd control forces, and give way to newer, more refined, innovative technologies with equal capacity to serve the needs of law enforcement without any of the side effects and damaging consequences. Such devices include stun devices, maloderants (otherwise non-harmful gases that produce an intolerable smell), and various less violent methods of restraint (“The future of crowd control,� 2004). The field is rapidly expanding and growing, and this is where law enforcement and others involved in crowd control must focus their effort and attention, so that no one else endures the intolerable cost of death or serious injury by a tool meant to avoid these things.

References

Aboud, N., Agbaria, A., Harbaji, I., Lankovsky, Z., Mahajna, A., Michaelson, M. (2002). Blunt and penetrating injuries caused by rubber bullets during the Israeli-Arab conflict in October, 2000: a retrospective study. Lancet, 359(9320), 1795. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. The Globalization of Repression. (2001). Earth Island Journal, 16(4), 32. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. The Future of Crowd Control. (2004). Economist, 373(8404), 11. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Covering the Three Rivers. (2009). News Photographer, 64(11), 45-47. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Rubber Bullets Fired at South African Shack Dwellers. (2009). New York Amsterdam News, 100(42), 2. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

42


photo by Jonathan Alvira


Abortion Limits in Europe by Sarah Hollowell

Europe, a continent known for its assortment of cheeses, the beautiful cities of Paris, Rome, London, and Venice, the unique languages, and their laws regarding abortions. Abortion, defined in its simplest terms, is “the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy” (“Abortion,” 2010). Some countries allow abortion up to a certain number of weeks, and some do not permit the procedure at all. Some of the abortion limits in Europe are clearly an injustice to their citizens. The varying restrictions across the continent do not provide equal rights. They do not provide protection to the mother or the unborn fetus, and the terror and agony it may cause to women is not fair. Certain countries in Europe have strict laws on abortion. In Ireland, abortion is completely outlawed in all cases, and Spain and Portugal have very strict laws pertaining to when and how a woman may obtain the procedure. As for Great Britain and France, their laws are considered fair to their citizens because they allow abortion up to 14-20 weeks, depending on location (Pinter, 2005). In Great Britain, the government is contemplating changing the laws from 24 weeks to 20 weeks and many of the citizens are not happy. As shown in the photo below, there was a protest two years ago. The signs proclaimed, “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide”, and “Defend 24 weeks” (“The Abortion Time,” 2008). The girls seem concerned and upset about this change. They want to defend their rights against their reproductive rights. Numerous women travel to other countries to receive the procedure, mainly to Great Britain (“Abortion Limits,” 2010). According to the article, “Safe and Legal in Ireland Abortion Right Campaign”, about 4,600 women traveled to Great Britain last year for the procedure and over the last decade at least 140,000 have made the trip (McKittrick, 2009, para. 5). A woman in Portugal was caught performing illegal abortions in her home to help women with the terror and cost of traveling. Evidence found in her diary proves that she has performed over 100 illegal abortions and she had 17 charges filed against her as well as her 25 accomplices (“Nurse jailed,” 2002). In Spain—an extremely Catholic country—they recently changed the law to allow abortion up to 14 weeks. It had previously been

44


Abortion Limits in Europe

completely banned. This highly upset the Catholic church and caused an uproar. Carmen Duenas, a member of the church, accused the government of being “outright unholy” (“Spain OK’s abortion law,” 2010). There are many reasons why a woman could want to abort her pregnancy. According to the article Why Do Women Seek Abortion, 21% say that the main source for the want of an abortion is not feeling financially stable or ready for the responsibility, which is tied with women being concerned about the major life change the baby will bring. Eleven percent admit that the pregnancy was a mistake and feel they are too young (Robinson, 2007). Many abortions are desired from a pregnancy that resulted from a rape. According to the article, “about ten to fifteen abortions (approximately 1%) annually are sought because the conception occurred after rape or during an incestuous relationship, and the woman does not want to bear a child who was conceived in violence” (Robinson, 2007). Another main cause for abortion is when the mother has realized pregnancy is not good for her lifestyle and wants to end the pregnancy before it is too late and the baby is born into a hostile environment. The article, Women Challenge Irish Abortion Ban in European Court, discusses how a woman was forced to travel to Great Britain to obtain the procedure because she was denied in Ireland. She claimed, “I am a former alcoholic and substance abuser and my four children are in care and I feared my pregnancy will prevent me from getting my children back” (“Women challenge Irish abortion ban,” 2009). Birth defects in the fetus, a huge concern, lead to abortion quite frequently. A mother who was going through chemotherapy when she discovered she was pregnant was denied the right and also had to travel to Great Britain. Chemotherapy during pregnancy puts the mother and baby at high risk of many disorders and problems, states McKittrick. If women want to have a legal abortion, they have to travel to Great Britain to obtain the procedure. An unknown woman shared how she felt: “I was all over the place... Then (after an initial visit to an Irish clinic) I was on my own. I had to contact the place, make my own travel arrangements, hotel arrangements” (Aisling, 2009). Another woman discusses the experience of traveling to receive her abortion: “When I came back, I rang the hospital and asked for follow-up care... I told them I had a therapeutic abortion and asked about genetic testing. They just said to me, come back when you are pregnant again” (Aisling, 2010). An illegal abortion, unfortunately, is what many women opt for. Illegal abortions are graphic and there are two different types—instrumentation and local interference. One type of an instrumentation abortion is called dilation and extraction: This is a procedure used for late-term abortions, and is carried out from the fourth to the ninth month of pregnancy. An ultrasound is first used to locate the legs of the fetus, which are then drawn through the birth canal with a pair of forceps. Scissors are then used to puncture the base of the back of the head so that the brain may be removed by suction. This serves to collapse the skull to facilitate removal of the entire fetus. (Abortion, 2003) 45


Abortion Limits in Europe

One type of a local interference abortion is called saline amniocentesis. “Saline amniocentesis involves in introduction of concentrated salt solution into the amniotic fluid via an amniocentesis needle. This is inhaled and swallowed by the fetus, which subsequently dies of acute salt poisoning” (Abortion, 2003). A self-inflicted abortion consists of many different methods, and they all are very dangerous. According to Agarwal, the author of Abortion Method – Learn 7 Different Types of Abortions, “In self-inflicted abortion a sharp object such as a coat hanger is inserted into the cervix of the expecting mother...” (Agarwal, n.d.). He also discusses how there are several herbal remedies that a lot of mothers chose. The harm that women cause to themselves is a direct result from these countries not allowing women basic human rights. According to an independent body, “The Irish Government has failed utterly to ensure that health services are available to those women who are legally entitled to an abortion” (“Abortion Method,” 2009). Some consequences that an illegal abortion presents are the risk for countless severe complications, including cervical shock, infertility, hematometra (a medical condition that involves bleeding of or near the uterus), bowel and bladder injuries depending on gestational age. It was found that when a woman is eight weeks pregnant or less, the risks are less than 1%, at 8-12 weeks the risk is 1.5-2%, at 12-13 weeks the risk is 3-6%, and the second trimester risks increase to 50%. In some cases, it can be even higher (Gaufberg, 2010). Some cases have been found to lead to death. Research shows mortality rates per 100,000 abortions are, “Fewer than 8 weeks, 0.5%; 11-12 weeks, 2.2%; 16-20 weeks 14%; and more than 21 weeks, 18%” (Gaufberg, 2010). According to the World Health Organization, about 68,000 women die from unsafe abortions per year. A septic abortion was once the leading cause of death in women around the entire world (Gaufberg, 2010). There are ramifications for when a woman opts for an illegal abortion. Jail time is almost guaranteed for the patient and doctor. In the case regarding the female nurse in Portugal who was caught performing illegal abortions in her home, there were 25 accomplices, 19 acquitted, and six receiving jail time. Many of the charges were dropped. The court mentioned in the verdict, “The court has taken in account that (Ribeiro) did it to help other women” (“Nurse Jailed,” 2002). Sometimes a woman will not seek an abortion regardless of the circumstances, according to a study done about why women will chose to not have an abortion a main reason is the cost of the procedure. The estimated cost is roughly between £800 and £1000 (which is equivalent to between $1,218.72 and $1,523.41) (McKittrick, 2009). Abortions can be deemed as an unsafe medical procedure, and many women find themselves uneasy and scared. According to Dr. Janet Daling, “an induced abortion raises a woman’s chance of getting cancer

46


Abortion Limits in Europe

before age 45 by 50%. If the abortion is performed before age 30, it increases 110%; if before age 18, it goes up 150%” (Daling, 2007). A list claimed that an estimated 347 women have been killed by legal abortions since 1973. Religious beliefs are a major factor as to whether a woman chooses to consider an abortion or not. Just like what happened in Spain, where the Catholic Church became upset and voiced their opinions on Spain’s passing of the law to allow an abortion to happen up to 14 weeks into the pregnancy (“Spain OKs new abortion law,” 2010). According to the article, 10 Reasons Why Abortion Is Evil, the number one reason is “Abortion Offends God”: Abortion is never a mere personal choice but a grave offense against God and his creation. The anti-abortion struggle has always been a religious battle and foremost in its ranks have been Catholics across the country. This is because Church teaching on abortion is clear and unequivocal: Abortion is murder. There are no exceptions allowed, no compromises possible. (“10 reasons why abortion is evil,” 2007)

Not having an abortion has countless effects. There is a high risk that debt can occur in the patient’s life. The fetus can also be at risk for any number of birth defects that the mother, surrounding family, and the child will have to live with. If these defects exist, an abortion may be a good path. Some other effects of pregnancy involve major mood swings, joint mobility which might cause a woman to be unstable when standing or walking, and sometimes causing injuries, and constipation (“10 things that might surprise you,” n.d). Some of the abortion limits in Europe are clearly an injustice to their citizens. The varying restrictions across the continent that do not provide equal rights, not providing protection to the mother or the unborn fetus, and the terror and agony it may cause some on women is not fair. On the European continent, the limits on abortion are not consistent between countries. Every country has its own laws and therefore the treatment of each country’s citizens are drastically unequal. Abortion limits can be dangerous to a mother or a fetus depending on the mother’s situation. Birth defects and insufficient health care are major reasons why women rely on their option of abortion, but in some countries their right is nonexistent. Abortions have the potential to be used for good reasons if the right is not abused. Countries such as Great Britain, France, and others that allow abortion up to a certain number of weeks and with specific restrictions it represents the law well.

47


Abortion Limits in Europe

References

10 Reasons why abortion is evil. (2007). The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property. Retrieved from http://www.tfp.org 10 things that might surprise you about being pregnant. (n.d.). Kids Health. Retrieved from http://www.kidshealth.org Abortion. (2003). BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk Abortion limits violate human rights in Ireland. (2010, Feb). Abortion Clinics. Retrieved from http://www.abortion-clinics.co.uk Agarwal. (n.d.) Abortion methods- Learn 7 different types of abortion. Retrieved from http://www.ezinarticles.com Aisling. (2010). In their own words women who travelled abroad for abortions. Irish Times. Retrieved from http://www.irishtimes.com Bracken, H and Winikoff, B. (2005). The state of medical abortion in Europe today. Entre Nous. 59, 7-9. Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int Gaufberg, S. (2010). Abortions, complications. Retrieved from http://www.emedicine.com McKittrick, D. (2009). Safe and legal in Ireland abortion rights campaign. The Independent. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ Nurse jailed for illegal abortions. (2002, Jan). BBC news. Retrieved from http://www.news.bbc.co.uk Pinter B., Aubeny E., Bartfai G., Loeber O., Ozalp S., & Webb A. (2005). Accessibility and availability of abortion in six European countries. 10, Issue 1, 51-58. Retrieved from http://www.web.ebscohost.com Public want abortion weeks cut in line with rest of Europe. (2008). The Christian Institute. Retrieved from http://www.christian.org.uk Robinson, B.A. (2007). Why do women want abortions?. Retrieved from http://www.relgioustolerance.org Rosenthal, E. (2005). Across Europe, a broad assault by abortion foes. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Spain OKs new abortion law, angers church. (2010, Feb). MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com The Abortion Time. (2008). [Photograph]. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.com.uk Traynor, I. (2009, Dec 9). Women challenge Irish abortion ban in European court. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk

48


photo by Sean Deckert


enforce


Lighter Punishments are Crucial for Teens Caught Sexting by Brittany Everhart

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” These seven words have been told over and over again, but sometimes people misunderstand their true meaning. Over the past two years, the fad of sexting has become a public phenomenon, and state governments are just beginning to look at the cover of what sexting really is. Sexting is defined as the act of sending a sexually explicit picture of oneself to someone else. Most of the people who participate in sexting are teenagers. A survey taken by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy showed that 20 percent of teens admitted to having been involved in some form of sexting (Johnson, 2010). Teens who are caught sexting are being charged with child pornography; some are as young as 12-years-old. Child pornography is considered the exploitation of children in a sexual way, by taking nude photos or video of children by force and/or distributing them. Even though sexting has some of the same qualifiers of child porn, it is missing the essential asset of exploiting a child. Sexting is a choice. It is not forced upon anyone, and teens are being punished too harshly for this new action. The Illinois State Senate also felt that charging teens with child pornography is too severe. It recently passed a bill declaring that if minors are caught sexting, they will receive either a misdemeanor or possibly community service. “Sometimes these kids don’t understand what they’re doing, make a mistake, and it follows them for life,” state senator Ira Silverstein says, “so we don’t want that in their record.” Other states, like Florida and Connecticut, are also currently trying to get a similar bill passed for teens caught sexting (Foresman, 2010). Convicting teens too strictly for sexting can be solved by the state legislatures changing the child pornography conviction law to a lighter sentence, such as community service or a misdemeanor. With all the advances in technology, the current laws are falling behind. In today’s age it is extremely easy for anyone to snap a picture with their phone and send it to someone else. Laura McBride, who wrote the article “Enough is Enough,” said, “Like it or not, sexting has become today’s version of girls drawing hearts and flowers on their history notebook 53


Lighter Punishments are Crucial for Teens Caught Sexting

in the 1960s or boys bragging in the locker room about imagined conquests.” Also the government isn’t used to people participating in an act where someone consents to take a naked photo of their self. “The problem is that the child porn laws were really designed for a situation where an adult abuses a minor by forcing that minor … psychologically as well as physically … into taking these pictures,” said Mark Rasch, a former federal cybercrime prosecutor. “But when the person takes the picture herself or himself or consents to the picture being taken, it turns the whole statute on its head” (Zetter, 2009). The state legislatures need to take a step back and think about how times and technology are changing our society, and how the teenage population chooses to use these new advances. Secondly, naïve teens should not be filling up the sex offenders list. A good example is Phillip Alpert: he was charged with child pornography and now has to be on the sex offenders list until he is 43-years-old. When Alpert was 18, he sent a nude picture of his ex-girlfriend to a couple of friends to get back at her for breaking up with him. “I’m extremely sorry for what I did, but the sex-offender thing, which is going to last until I’m 43, that’s overkill,” said Alpert. Since he is on the sex offenders list he cannot live next to schools or churches, and he cannot find anyone to hire him for work (Kaufman, 2010). Nashville, Tennessee is trying to pass a bill where anyone ages 14 to 18 who have committed crimes such as rape or battery of child will be added to the sex offenders list (“Teen Sex Offenders,” 2010). Now this is understandable because those teens are physically abusing a minor, whereas sexting does not have any sort of physical abuse to it. The article, “Teen Sex Offenders Added to Online Registry List,” from the Associated Press states, “Opponents say putting children on a public sex offender registry could stigmatize them and discourage them from seeking treatment” (2010). This is another good point to address; if teens are put on the list, then they may feel they are stuck with that for life and that they shouldn’t attempt to fix what they did wrong. Who would want the teens of our world giving up on bettering themselves? What the state needs to look deeper into when dealing with cases like this is the actual intent that the person had. Alpert never meant for his decision to exploit his ex-girlfriend. He was caught up in anger and made a rash decision that he wishes he could take back. The sex offenders list should consist of people who rape or molest children—not of teens who made a bad judgment call by sending a naked photo. Ashley Garcia, a 15-year-old, sent a photo that exposed herself to her boyfriend; the image was sent to multiple phones and also eventually ended up in the hands of her mother. Garcia explained the reason she sent the photo in the first place was because she felt she had never experienced such love before as she did with her boyfriend. “It didn’t really register in my mind, like, what I was doing,” said Garcia (Ibanga & Kazdin, 2009). Garcia simply did it because she wanted to please her boyfriend. She admits she really had no clue what she was doing; therefore, her intent was not to produce child porn. Let’s make more room for the true sex offenders. 54


Lighter Punishments are Crucial for Teens Caught Sexting

Lowering the punishment to community service can also serve as a better form of a learning experience rather than throwing the teen in jail or calling them a sex offender. According to KidsHealth.org, community service teaches kids how to commit and gain a sense of responsibility, which can help them with future jobs and pursuits. So, instead of locking teens up in hopes that they will learn what they did wrong, why don’t we give them the chance to redeem themselves and work towards a greater good that will not only positively affect them, but also help our society as a whole? In 2009, the UAE Cabinet passed a proposal mandating that people charged with minor offenses receive community service instead of jail time or fines. Federal National Council member Khaled Hamad BoShehab said, “A crime, such as entering a nature reserve by mistake, should not result in imprisonment. The idea is to educate and discipline the individual. What are we going to benefit from putting a well-behaved person in prison for two months?” (Habboush & Youssef, 2009). Even though BoShehab used an example of someone making the mistake of walking into a nature reserve, it also reflects on sexting in a way. Teens are making the mistake of taking nude pictures of themselves and sending those pictures out, yet they may be very intelligent, good kids who simply didn’t understand the full extent of what they were doing. They don’t deserve to be thrown in jail. People who are for the child pornography conviction law may argue that not convicting the teen caught sexting is bad because they feel that nothing will be accomplished in trying to teach the teen a lesson. Even though these are legitimate concerns that some people have, they need to take in mind as mentioned early the intent that the teen had. They need to recognize that sexting only has accidental qualities of child pornography and not the essential qualities. Sexting does consist of the distribution of sexual pictures, but there is no attempt at exploiting a child. It is crucial that the state legislatures change the child pornography conviction law against people sexting to a lighter sentence. How would you feel if you sent a naked picture to someone and got thrown in jail for it, when you had no intention of producing child pornography? Multiple states are already taking action in trying to lower punishments against teens. With the backing of the states’ communities, this can be accomplished. Whether the state governments want to believe it or not, the saying, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” is being said and followed every day, and it should not be a crime if both people consent to it.

55


Lighter Punishments are Crucial for Teens Caught Sexting

References

Bill: teen sex offenders added to online registry. (2010, April). Associated Press. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from http://www.myeyewitnessnews.com/news/local/ Foresman, C. (2010, March). Lawmakers backing off harsh punishments for sexting teens. Ars Technica. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from http://www.arstechnica.com/ tech-policy/news Habboush, M., & Youssef, M. (2009, March 6). Community service could replace minor jail sentences. The National. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from http://www.thenational.ae/ Johnson, G. (2010, January 29). Indiana kids face felony charges for sexting. Canada.com. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from http://www.canada.com/technology/ Kazdin, C., & Ibanga, I. (2009, April 15). The truth about teens sexting. ABC News. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/ Kaufman, G. (2010, February 11). Sexting leads to teen having to register as a sex offender. MTV. Retrieved March 30, 2010, from http://www.mtv.com/news/ Zetter, K. (2009, March 25). ACLU sues prosecutor over ‘sexting’ child porn charges. Wired.com. Retrieved April 20, 2010, from http://www.wired.com/threatlevel /2009/03/aclu-sues-da-ov/

56


First the Dog, Then the Neighbor by Danielle Gilbert

On March 28, 2004 29-year-old Robert Rydzewski brutally killed his neighbor’s dog with an ax. Patricia Bengal, devastated by the loss of Sis, her Welsh Corgi mix, reported that the dog got out of the pen but never returned. Rydzewiski, a previous offender for shooting another neighbor’s dog, Mollie, in the face only two months prior, told police that Patricia Bengal’s dog was going after his rabbits when he killed her. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, he pled guilty and the judge sentenced him 90 days in jail and one year of probation. Although the judge granted both dog owners permanent orders of protection, Rydzewiski’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Unfortunately like the stories of Mollie and Patricia Bengal’s dog Sis, there are too many cases of animal torture and abuse every day on the news: “8 pit bulls euthanized after dog fighting bust,” “owner’s dog found dead in his trash,” “20 neglected and malnourished cats found in woman’s basement.” Animal abusers neglect and torture animals daily and many cases often occur undetected all over the country. Wouldn’t you want to know if one of these offenders was living in your neighborhood? Animal abuse does not only have a negative impact on the victims, but can negatively affect communities and public safety. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Executive Director Stephen Wells stated, “Animal abuse is not only a danger to our cats, dogs, horses, and other animals, but also to people. According to ADLF, many animal abusers have a history of domestic violence or other criminal activity, and there is a disturbing trend of animal abuse among our country’s most notorious serial killers.” Illegal activities such as drug dealing usually go hand in hand with animal abuse. According to the Chicago Police Department one out of every three times they execute a warrant for animal abuse they confiscate narcotics or weapons (Chicago Crime Commission, 2004). Many animal abusers go beyond abusing animals and participating in drug activity and instead escalate to violence toward humans. Robert K. Ressler, a serial killer profiler for the FBI, claims that “serial offenders’ earliest acts of violence are often the torture and killing of pets or wildlife before finally engaging in domestic violence or street crime” (Tallichet & Hensley, 2009). Like other forms of 57


First the Dog, Then the Neighbor

abuse and neglect, animal cruelty is often an indicator that another form of abuse exists within a family, such as child abuse. One study found that in 88 percent of homes where children were physically abused, pets were mistreated too (Degue & DiLillo, 2009). The widespread problem of animal cruelty deserves a second look because it has such adverse effects for the victims as well as the public. On a positive note, laws protecting animals are becoming more and more prevalent due to the recognition of this link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence, crime in communities, and public health issues. Recently, California has proposed SB 1277, a bill that puts animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders by listing them in an online registry complete with their home addresses and places of employment. Dean Florez, a Democrat chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee proposed this bill mandating that any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty would have to register with the police and provide a range of personal information. The information posted online and available to the public would include the offenders’ name, history of animal abuse, home address, place of employment and a recent photograph (McKinley, 2010). This way, animal shelters can keep track of those who should not own animals and communities can use the registry to protect and keep their families safe. In the past, Rhode Island, Colorado and Tennessee have attempted to pass bills similar to Florez’s, though none succeeded due to insufficient funding proposals and privacy issues for offenders. Even for the new bill, SB 1277, some have raised concerns regarding the offenders’ personal information being available to the public. Opponents argue that these offenders have served their time and should not have the burden of a life-long label. Randall Lockwood, an ASPCA cruelty expert, told usatoday.com, “many worry a spirit of public vigilantism could arise, prompting people to take revenge on an offender who in their minds has not been suitably punished by the legal system” (Peters, 2010). However, these concerns are merely speculative and communities should have the right to be informed about these offenders because of the threat they pose to families and their pets and children. Joshua Marquis, a district attorney and member of the ALDF board, told The New York Times that “it gives information to someone who might be considering hiring that person for a job. I do not think for animal abusers it’s unreasonable considering the risk they pose, much like the risk that people who abuse children do” (McKinley, 2010). An animal abuse registry is similar to a sex offender registry, in that they are both valuable resources for communities to protect themselves and their families from harm. Because animal abusers are more likely than others to act violently toward people, parents should be aware of who is living in their community and being around their children. In order to pass a bill mandating an animal abuse registry, the formalities regarding funding and costs of the bill need to be adequate. As demonstrated in past bills attempting to create a registry, many question where the money will 58


First the Dog, Then the Neighbor

come from to maintain this bill. But the bill’s sponsor, Dean Florez, says the registry would cost approximately $500,000 to $1 million to launch, and then between $300,000 and $400,000 annually to maintain. It would be funded by a 2- to 3-cent tax on pet food (McKinley, 2010). In response to this plan, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, feels this tax could be a major drawback for the bill’s passage. He told The New York Times it was “an extremely controversial idea” and unpopular with the pet food industry and tax-opposing citizens (McKinley, 2010). Although this tax may worry pet food companies, Florez’s funding proposal is certainly geared toward the right consumers. Even though the effects of animal cruelty and animal abuse offenders impact everyone, pet owners and those who are buying pet food are more likely than others to support this registry. Presumably, the advocates of this bill are the animal shelter owners and pet owners who care about the prevention of animal abuse and have a soft spot for animals. It is unlikely that they will protest this proposal just to save a minor 5 cent tax on pet food. According to ADLF, for those who still oppose financial support for an animal abuse registry, consider animal hoarding, a severe and costly form of animal cruelty that affects a quarter of a million animals each year in the U.S. alone. Animal hoarders, often house hundreds of animals in their home, living in filth and without veterinary care. It is not uncommon to discover several hundred dead or alive animals in various states of neglect at one location along with other junk and feces and garbage.The problem with animal hoarders is that they belive they are capable of caring for these animals, so even when reprimanded they continue to bring more animals into their homes (Frost, 2010). Making this registry could not only prevent abusers from adopting more victims, but would also be helpful in tracking people who run puppy mills, animal fighting rings, and hoarders, who sometimes collect hundreds of animals, often resulting in neglect. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it has been estimated that there are 900 to 2,000 new cases of animal hoarding every year in the United States, with a quarter million animals falling victim. However, the animals are not the only ones at fault. Randy O. Frost claims, “The extent and severity of hoarding makes it clear that this can be a problematic condition from the standpoint of public health threat, costs to the public and even loss of life” (2000). Often it takes days for a team of animal control officers, firefighters and policeman to rescue animals from hazardous conditions which means more hours and time for workers. Then in order to care or these animals, shelters are overwhelmed with and relied on for thousands of dollars in veterinary bills alone. The cost for caring for a single healthy cat can range from $365 to $390 annually and costs even more for dogs (Fuoco, 2007). The government may also incur bills for numerous visits by health and county zone inspectors to the hoarder’s property, cleanup or demolition of the property, court appointed attorneys for some offenders, and the cost

59


First the Dog, Then the Neighbor

of administrative hearings (Berry, 2005). Being faced with a large number of unhealthy animals to care for costs communities money and resources. In July of 2009, local police officials removed more than 100 live and approximately 150 dead Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes from Kenneth Lang’s home in Dearborn, Michigan. Due to the awful conditions of animals and his home the county of Dearborn paid approximately $37,000 for the damages (Urbina, 2010). Making a registry can help prevent not only hoarders but all abusers from mistreating more animals and costing shelters, local governments, and taxpayers money. Not sponsoring a bill like SB 1277, costs more money and wastes more time and resources in the end. As mentioned before, a registry of animal offenders would be a valuable resource for those who deal with animal abusers and the animals they harm. In many cases there is little communication and inefficient cross-reporting between different county divisions that deal with animal abusers such as code enforcement, the health department, and animal control (Berry, 2005). Therefore, some of these offenders do not get penalized appropriately which allows them to stay undetected and keep preying on more animals. For example, in a hoarding case in Texas, police called a local animal shelter when they found 20 malnourished dogs in a man’s home. He was a second time offender so all twenty of his dogs were returned to him. In a different part of town the local Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (SPCA) were called to investigate his home where they rescued the twenty dogs the other shelter had previously rescued. However this time he was only charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony offense because the SPCA was not aware that he was a third time offender (Berry, 2005). Because local animal shelters and organizations do not cross-report every offender they encounter, these hoarders, as well as other types of abusers, are not getting charged properly and are given the opportunity to continue this destructive behavior and millions of animals are suffering. According to ADLF, “A lot of times these people will just pick up and move to another jurisdiction or another state if they get caught,” said Gillian Deegan, who has written animal welfare laws, “it would definitely help on those types of cases where people jump around” (McKinley, 2010). For example, in 1993 Vikki Kittles, an adamant hoarder, “faced charges in Oregon when she was discovered keeping 115 sick and dying dogs crammed into a school bus, where they lived in filth, received no exercise, and got no veterinary care for their extensive health problems”. Prior to this, Vikki had been run out of Florida, Mississippi, Colorado, and Washington for hoarding animals. Hoarders, like Vikki Kittles, continue abusing animals because they can stay under the radar if they move to another county, city or state. This registry would be a valuable resource for law enforcement officials and shelters so they can keep tabs on these offenders and charge them appropriately. Making a registry of animal offenders has benefits that outweigh any funding issues and contestation that this proposal may have. The very similar sex offenders’ registry works for several states in our country; an animal abuser 60


First the Dog, Then the Neighbor

registry would be just as undemanding and certainly valuable. Animal abusers are more likely to commit other crimes that are damaging and threatening to communities. Like in the Robert Rydzewski case, your own neighbors could be a threat to your pets or even your children if they are animal abusers. The actions of these offenders cost animal shelters, local governments and the public tons of money to rescue and care for victims. Too many lives are being taken and too much time, money and resources are being wasted. In order to stop these offenders from abusing more animals and forcing the rest of the country to bear the consequences, the support and establishment of a registry for animal abusers is necessary. If we stop the continuation of animal abuse, we will protect animals lives, save money and ensure safety in our communities.

References

Berry, C. & Patronek, V. (2005). Long-term outcomes in animal hoarding cases. Animal Law, 11, 167-188. Retrieved from http://www.animallaw.info/ journals/jo_pdf/vol11_p167.pdf Chicago Crime Commission. (2004, August). RAV2: Reduce animal violence,reduce all violence: a program to amplify human and animal violence prevention and reduction by targeting dog fighting and animal cruelty. Action Alert, 1-5. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Degue, S. & DeLillo, D. (2009). Is animal cruelty a red flag for family violence? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24 (6). Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Frost, R., Steketee, G., & Williams, L. (2000). Hoarding: a community health problem. Health & Social Care in the Community, 8(4), 229. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Fuoco, Linda. (2007, December 10) Animal hoarders proving difficult to contain. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from http://post-gazette.com McKineley, Jesse. (2010, February). Lawmakers consider an animal abuse registry. New York Times. Retrieved Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Peters, L. ( 2010, February 23). Legislation targets people convicted of animal cruelty. USA Today. Retrieved from http://usatoday.com Tallichet, S., & Hensley, C. (2009). The social and emotional context of childhood and adolescent animal cruelty: is there a link to adult interpersonal crimes? International Journal of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 53(5), 596-606. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Urbina. (2010, March 17). Animal abuse as a clue to additional cruelties. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com

61


photo by Jonathan Alvira


eat


The Cultural Influence on Obesity in America by Kevin C. Keller

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention first declared obesity an epidemic in the United States in 1999, and yet the problem still exists today. Fad diets and solutions have been in and out of popularity in the U.S, and even reality TV has addressed the problem with shows like The Biggest Loser. According to WebMD.com, in 2009 26.5 percent of Americans were obese, an increase from 2008. They also report that to curb the rate it is going to take involvement from communities, businesses, and government. Comparisons with other developed countries show how many of our cultural values are making us the most obese developed country in the world. The United States continues to be the most obese developed country in the world because of consequences from our culture that encourages unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and increased stress. Our fellow developed nations do not have the same obesity problem the United States has. Specifically, Norway has only 6 percent of their population obese, France (9.4 percent) and Italy (8.5 percent) also are near the bottom, according to “Saint Louis University study examines obesity trends in Europe” published at newsRx.net. However, The UK – a country with a culture more similar to ours – is closer to our rate at 24 percent, and the UK started seeing sharp increase in obesity rates in the 80’s around the same time we did. The eating culture in the United States is one that encourages weight gain, and is a piece of how the overall culture of the U.S. affects the obesity epidemic. Three of General Mills’ top five cereals are unhealthy choices; Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. They are all high in sugar and low in fiber according to cereal stats on lavasurfer.com. The UK is Kellogg’s second biggest market behind the U.S. However, in France and Italy cereal is not nearly as popular, with sales only a third of what it is in the U.S. according to a study by Northwestern University. One major part of the eating culture in the U.S. is that unhealthy foods are cheaper. According to “Cohort Differences in Adult Obesity in the United States: 1982 2002” in Journal of Aging and Health there is a correlation between income and obesity rates (Reynolds & Himes, 2007). This means 65


The Cultural Influence on Obesity in America

the less money Americans have to spend on food, the fatter they get. Thus, the cheaper foods are the foods that contribute to obesity. High fructose corn syrup and large amounts of sodium are present even in foods like yogurt and drinks like juice, according to the New York Times article “A Sweetener with a Bad Rap.” The article claims that it saves money for companies to use this as a sugar substitute. The article also says, “Many scientific articles and news reports have noted that since 1980, obesity rates have climbed at a rate remarkably similar to that of high-fructose corn syrup consumption,” (Warner, 2006). In addition, marketing focuses on chips, candy, and soda, instead of fruits, vegetables and whole grains according to “Epidemic obesity in the United States: Are fast foods and television viewing contributing?” in the American Journal of Public Health (Jeffery & French, 1998). These all relate to the cultural value of money, we value our money so much that sometimes we sacrifice our health to save it. The economic culture behind food in America is increasing the chances of Americans becoming obese while hurting the chances of the already obese getting to a healthy weight again. One part of American food culture today is fad diets. The examples are endless, The South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, Low Carb Diet, etc. These diets have become part of our culture because companies have found they are profitable due to the cultural desire to lose weight. Both our cultural love for money and appearance effect these diets. Unfortunately, these diets have only been effective for a small number of people, and are not helping the obesity epidemic. They also have a high rate of people regaining the weight they lost after the diet according to “Fad Diets and Obesity” published in Urologic Nursing (Moyad, 2005). In fact, they can even hurt one’s health by cutting out an important nutrient from your diet according to weight-loss-professionals.com. They also say fad diets often cut important vitamins and minerals from a diet hurting ones overall health. France and Italy have some fundamental differences in their food culture that attribute to smaller obesity rates and better overall health. First, it is common for meals to last a couple hours when eating with family and it is more leisured then the rushed cereal before catching the bus image in America and the United Kingdom. Slower eating helps the consumer to realize when there are full and stop eating, while in the U.S. we are often told to eat “until our plates clean.” Italy is also the birthplace of the Slow-Food movement that claims to be anti-fast food and promote healthier eating, according to the movement’s website. Doctors claim that in order to achieve a healthy weight one needs to combine good eating habits with effective exercise. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S do not get the exercise their bodies need to help maintain a healthy weight. Our culture plays a role in this lack of exercise. The cultural value of money plays a big role in the fact American’s often do not have the time to exercise. The average American workweek is 46 hours, more than every European country, with the UK coming in second at 40 hours a week. This combined with the cultural value on cars, family needs, and lack of public transit mean that commuting to the gym

66


The Cultural Influence on Obesity in America

takes even more time we lack. Time article “One Day in America” by Nancy Gibbs reported in 2007 only “17 percent of us exercise for well over an hour (a day), while the rest of us scarcely stir at all.” Our work and time constraints related to family and transportation are forcing 4/5th of Americans to not exercise, which is a major contributor to obesity. Exercise rates are also different in other developed nations. Bassett, Jr., Pucher, Buehler, Thompson, & Crouter (2008) report in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health that Europe is more active in getting to work, so bicycling and walking rates are higher. One cause for this is different city planning and overall layout. Many Americans have love for the suburbs as a good place to raise a family, meaning they commute to work. Instead of highways leading into a major downtown area, however, Europeans often live closer to their workplace and find it easy to ride a bike to work, while for us it would take an extended period of time, too long for many, to bike (Anderson, 2003). The Regional Science and Urban Economics Journal reports in the Netherlands (10 percent obesity): “workers are on average willing to accept an hourly wage rate that is 0.12 Dutch guilder lower in order to avoid one additional kilometer of commuting” (Rouwendal, 1999). To put this in perspective, that is 1.20 Dutch guilders an hour less to live ten kilometers closer. This contradicts two major American cultural values: one of making the most money we can and our love of driving and cars in general. France (35-hour workweek) is another example of how most European nations do not spend as much time on the job as well, which frees up time to work out. Work and our social lives are important, no doubt, but with the stress coming fro spending a big amount of time with each activity, exercise takes a back seat in American lives. Working over 40 hours a week, taking kids to school events, working at home, shopping, watching TV, and relaxing in general are all things that commonly take precedent in American life over exercise. The back seat exercise takes allows obesity rates to be high and continue to rise. Also, work in industrials used to be more active than work today. “Cohort Differences in Adult Obesity in the United States: 1982 2002” says high tech jobs behind computers or machines are less active than they used to be, meaning less exercise is taking place today in the work place (Reynolds & Himes, 2007). Exercise is a tool that people can use to help their overall health and weight. With American culture, exercise takes a back seat to the values of money, work and our social lives, making us unhealthier. There are some signs that we are taking steps in the direction towards curbing our obesity rate. First, some companies, like Intel for example, are giving employees breaks to exercise during the workday. They even have the equipment ready. Also, new technology and information are helping Americans realize they need to move more and eat better. New technology like a pedometer (step counter) help encourage more exercise during a normal day, and phone applications can provide nutritional information on the spot, giving Americans the 67


The Cultural Influence on Obesity in America

information needed to make a healthier choice. This new technology and employers encouraging exercise also help reduce stress. Stress is found easily in almost any American life today. Cultural strains of making money and looking good make can make everyone from a sixth grader to a retiree stressed. Stress also contributes to how obese Americans are. According to Obesity: Etiology, Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention, “Chronic stress has powerful effects on the body’s production and storage of fat. High levels of cortisol induced by stress can lead to increase in body fat and obesity.” This adds to all the other ways stress promotes obesity. The book goes on to list: stress can lead to eating while not hungry, eating fast food because of lack of time, and lack of energy to exercise. The book also says the main reason is, “When faced with a stressful situation, the body triggers the stress response or fight-or-flight response. This leads to the secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones along with an increase of blood pressure, breathing and heart rate,” (Anderson, 2003, p. 95). The European countries that have lower obesity rates have tendencies imbedded in their culture that help reduce stress. Not surprisingly, these traits relate to work and diet. Workweeks are shorter in Europe, meaning less emphasis is put on work, which reduces work stress. When many Europeans eat, they often sit down with family for a couple hours, which can be relaxing, and is a trait that would relieve stress. In contrast, we view watching TV as a major way to relax. They also live closer to work, meaning less time is spent on the highway – a high source of stress for many Americans. There is, however, an effective way to reduce stress—exercise. The problem with this is Americans do not exercise, and even exercise can become a source of stress for the millions who are struggling with time management. Many look to find time to exercise, which can cause stress, the drive to the gym can involve traffic, which stresses many people out, and then they might have to pay to get into the gym, which relates to financial stress. Stress is hard to avoid in America these days, even when people are trying to reduce it. Stress, combined with bad eating and lack of exercise, caused American culture to have an obesity epidemic that is growing and has no end in sight. More and more people are recognizing the problem, but an effective way to curb the trend has yet to become popular. Cultural values of money, work, and social living combined with unhealthy habits have made it hard for Americans to cope with stress, find time to exercise, and eat right; this becomes even more apparent when looking at the comparisons with other developed nations.

68


The Cultural Influence on Obesity in America

References

Allison, D., Zannolli, R., & Narayan, V. (1999). The direct health care cost of obesity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 89, 8. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Anderson, E. (Ed.). (2003). Obesity: Etiology, Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Cutler, D., Glaeser, E., & Shapiro, J. (2003). Why have Americans become more obese? The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 17, 3. Retrieved from JSTOR database. Flegal, K., Williamson, D., Pamuk E., & Rosenburg H. (2004). Estimating deaths attributable to obesity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 9. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. General Mills Breakfast Cereal. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26,2010 from http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/sterntha/htm/module2/12.html Gibbs, N. (2007). One day in America. Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com Jeffery, R., & French, S. (1998). Epidemic obesity in the United States: Are fast foods and television viewing contributing? American Journal of Public Health, 88, 2. Retrieved from EBSCOhost: Academic Search Premier database. Moyad, M. (2005). Fad diets and obesity. Urologic Nursing, 24, 2. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database. Reynolds, L., & Himes, C. (2007). Cohort differences in adult obesity in the United States: 1982-2002. Journal of Aging and Health, 831, 19. Retrieved from Sage Journals Online database. Rouwendal, J. (1999). Spatial job search and commuting distances. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 29, 4. Retrieved from EBSCOhost: Academic Search Premier database. Sapp, M. (2005). Europes fight against obesity. Beef, 42, 2. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database Warner, M. (2006). A sweetener with a bad rap. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Zhang, Q., & Wang, Y. (2004). Socioeconomic inequality of obesity in the United States: do gender, age, and ethnicity matter? Social Science & Medicine, 58, 6. Retrieved from Science Direct database.

69


Vegan Diets: Ethics and the Environment by Margaret Kilman

Ethics has many different definitions, but is commonly defined as a branch of philosophy that helps determine what is right and wrong. Recently, many philosophers and writers have begun to apply ethics to food and the way we eat. There has been much debate recently regarding food consumption, preparation, and the way we raise food and its effects on the environment, specifically the greenhouse gases emitted from factory farms. Maintaining a vegan diet is the most ethical way to eat because factory farmed meat and dairy products are a primary cause of waste and pollution. Vegan diets are generally healthier, and animal cruelty is also eliminated. A vegan diet consists only of food derived from plants, and vegans do not eat any animal products. Vegan diets do not include eggs or cow’s milk, and many vegans won’t even eat honey. Most vegans make this choice due to personal ethics about the treatment of animals, but there is growing evidence that factory farm food production of cows, chickens, hogs, turkeys, and dairy is having a detrimental impact on worldwide pollution levels. An article published in 2006 on behalf of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that the pollution from animal food production is the “second leading factor in greenhouse gases and pollution worldwide” (Matthews, 2006). There is also health benefits associated with a vegan diet, and many doctors and nutritionists agree that a vegan or vegetarian diet is much healthier than an animal-based diet. Many Americans cannot begin to imagine a life without meat or dairy products in their diet. We are a nation of fast food restaurants and quick, easy dinner ideas. According to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, the average American will consume about 200 pounds of meat each year (2006). As a result, meat production has drastically changed to deliver massive amounts of cheap meat to American consumers. The effects of these production changes have resulted in problems like water pollution from animal waste that includes hormones and antibiotics, and increases in illness from bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and listeria, all of which can result 70


Vegan Diets: Ethics and the Environment

in serious sickness and even death. The health risks to the populations near a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) also increase the nearer a person lives to meat processing facilities. An article by Sandra Hood (2008), a nurse practitioner, shows that men and women who eat high levels of red meat are 20-22 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease and colon cancer. Obesity is another risk associated with a meat-centric diet (Hood, 2008). On the other hand, a vegan diet does not have the same risks associated with diets which cast meat in a starring role. Since vegans eat plant-based diets, they are typically high in fiber and often include large amounts of fresh vegetables. Another health benefit of the vegan diet is that the consumption of unhealthy saturated fats is almost entirely eliminated since most of these fats are derived from animal protein. Many critics of the vegan diet claim that vegans are deficient in protein, vitamin D and B12, all of which are essential to good health. These claims can be dismissed since high protein levels can be obtained in foods like tofu, peanut butter, and beans. Again, Hood’s report shows that a full day’s supply of vitamin D can be gained by ten minutes in the sun, and B12 can be obtained in “many fortified foods, vegetable broth and many margarines, breakfast cereals and some non-dairy milks” (2008). Calcium and other essential nutrients are found in abundance in any green, leafy vegetable, tofu and almonds. An article from the Western Journal of Medicine states: Many consider vegetarianism a matter of individual taste, an ethical choice, political statement, or even a personal quirk. Yet, the balance of the data suggests that vegetarianism likely improves individual as well as societal health. Although many vegetarians lead eco-sensitive lifestyles, personal politics need not be altered to derive health benefits from vegetarianism. Our review of the data suggests that people, particularly those at high risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, should be encouraged to consume increasingly vegetarian diets. (White & Frank, 1994)

There are additional reasons many people think a vegan diet is not a viable diet. Many believe they will not be satisfied with the foods in a vegan diet, but in recent years, there has been a flood of vegan cookbooks, including Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World. Even celebrated New York Times food critic Mark Bittman is “vegan before 6 p.m.,” and has written several books on why it is important for Americans to change the way they eat to a more plant-based diet. There is also a vegan offering for almost every kind of food, from veggie burgers, to vegan lasagna, and vegan tacos. There are many substitutions for meat like TVP, tofu, seitan, and tempeh, which offer hearty and much healthier alternatives for a “meat” craving. Vegan diets are also easy to maintain. Freshly prepared vegetables and foods are readily available, and there are even restaurants that have strict vegan menus. Many cuisines like Indian and Mediterranean offer vegan options, and there are numerous blogs and websites that offer recipes for delicious, easy-to-prepare meals. More and more grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprout’s, and Sunflower 71


Vegan Diets: Ethics and the Environment

Market have a large selection of frozen and prepared vegan foods as well. Vegan diets are also typically less ­­­­­­­ expensive as beans, grains, and vegetables are usually cheaper than meat and eggs. In recent years, many prominent authors and filmmakers have begun to shed light on the processed food industry, meat processing in particular. From Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, and Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters, there is a growing movement to eat more freshly prepared foods and to be more concerned with where our food comes from. Films like Food Inc., Fast Food Nation, and others, also show the horrific production methods used on factory farms. Furthermore, celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Andre 3000, Jason Mraz, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich are vegan and outspoken about the health benefits of their diets. The list of authors, musicians, and actors who have adopted a vegan lifestyle for ethical or health reasons is long. There are additional overlapping movements such as “locavores” (people concerned with food miles), slow food movements (focused on preparation of food and opposition to fast food chains), and others who are concerned about their food, its effect on their bodies, and the impact on the environment. More and more people are shopping at farmers’ markets, there has been an explosion of urban and community gardens, and CSA (community supported agriculture) groups are growing nationwide. Regardless of one’s reason for adopting a vegan diet, it is clear that it is the most ethical, and one of the most healthy ways to eat. The impact of a vegan diet on the environment is minimal, the health benefits of a vegan diet are much greater, and it is possible to eat satisfying food and get a well-balanced diet as a vegan. As the effect of global warming and pollution become of greater concern to so many of us, it is important to recognize that we can do more than recycle or take public transportation to make a difference. Every meal can have an impact on our environment, and even going meat and dairy free one day a week can have a significant positive impact on our health and our environment.

References

Matthews, C. (2006, November 29). Livestock a major threat to environment. Food and Agriculture Newsroom. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/newsroom Hood, S. (2008). The vegan diet. Practical Nurse, 35(3), 13-17. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. (2006). Farm animal statistics: meat consumption. The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved from http://www.humanesociety.org/news White, R., & Frank, E. (1994). Health effects and prevalence of a vegetarian diet. Journal of Western Medicine, 160(5), 465-470. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc

72


photo by Jonathan Alvira


advocate


Safe Havens by Sydney Swan

My first day as a newly hired, freshly graduated, starry-eyed counselor at the local battered women’s shelter almost made me run home crying … What I wasn’t prepared for were the pictures my first client brought to show me, apologetically, to explain why she had to return home. The pictures were of her ‘loving’ husband cutting her beloved dog’s ears off with a pair of garden shears. He had sent the ears along, too, but her mother thankfully neglected to forward them. (Quinlisk, 1999)

This is a problem many victims of domestic violence have to face. Yes, there are shelters set up for battered woman, children, or anyone who is affected by domestic violence, to go to when they need to get away—but what about the other members of the family, the animals? Studies show that 18 to 40 percent of women seeking shelter at a crisis center say their concern for the welfare of their pets has prevented them from getting help or shelter sooner; what about the women who never made it to the shelter to participate in the survey? Many shelters are fully capable of accepting battered women, and have been for quite awhile. These same shelters are not able to accept the companions or pets battered woman are likely to want to bring along (Grace, 2008). “They’re overly full and underfunded usually,” Megan Senatori, a lawyer in private practice and a professor at UW-Madison who teaches animal law, says to give a reason why the shelters for battered women do not accept their pets also (Kallio, 2008). Without protection and shelter for the pets of those who are battered and needing a way out, these women may never find the strength to leave a dangerous situation and get help for themselves. The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is one of the most common, and recently one of the most focused on issues of many highly accredited professionals in the field of social work and psychology. Before understanding the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, the definition of animal abuse must be completely understood. Everyone has their own opinion on what animal abuse is, ranging from leaving a dog out in the months of winter to the actual torturing and killing of a dog. Some people may view hunting deer as a form of animal abuse, while others merely view it as a way of life. Frank R. Ascione, a professor at Utah State University with a Ph.D. in Developmental 77


Safe Havens

Psychology and a B.S. in Psychology from Georgetown University, defines animal abuse as “socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain, suffering, or distress to and/or the death of an animal” (Ascione, 1999). The link was first discovered in the 1970s when the FBI began looking into the histories of serial killers who were currently in jail (DeRosa, 2002). The Senior Vice President for Anti-Cruelty Field Services, Dr. Randall Lockwood, made a list of 32 red flag factors based on studies of animal abuse committed and associated with domestic violence. Dr. Randall Lockwood is considered an expert on the animal abuse/human violence connection. When five of the 32 factors are present, there should be a concern that the person in question will commit future crime or violence. Some of the factors include: the absence of economic motive, the animal victim was posed or otherwise displayed, the vulnerability of the victim, and the number of victims along with the severity of injury and how many times it occurred (DeRosa, 2002). These factors are red flags, or warning signals, of future presence of abuse. “When people think about domestic violence or abuse, they don’t automatically think that the abuse extends to pets,” explained Dr. Grace (2008), a Mississippi State University doctor of veterinary medicine graduate. “Usually animals are the first victims in the cycle of violence because abusers use them as leverage with humans” (Grace, 2008). What people don’t know is when animal abuse is apparent in a household, one can accurately assume there is some sort of domestic violence also occurring in the same household. In 2004 there were approximately 627,400 nonfatal domestic violence cases between partners (U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006). As many as 71 percent of these violent incidents include incidents of abuse or death to family pets (Ascione, Weber & Wood, 1997). Malibu, a gray tabby cat at a California veterinary hospital, was flopped over in his cage while Marcella Harb-Hauser, a doctor of veterinary medicine, was doing her rounds. The cat had a swollen face and a bulging right eye. Malibu had broken ribs and bruised lungs. While further examining the cat, Harb-Hauser looked into the cat’s mouth, now recalling, “it looked like an eggplant inside” (Yeoman, 2008). When Malibu was looked at more closely, it was found that someone tried to strangle this innocent cat. After the owner of the cat, a young woman with dark eyeliner, extremely pale skin, and tattoos covering both arms, heard this she replied with, “Yeah, my boyfriend likes to do that to me, too.” Animals are used like pieces in a chess game in order for abusers to gain and keep control of spouses. The abuser is typically a male and already has dominance over both the victim and the animal being abused. A study done by the Humane Society of the United States found that 92 percent of intentional animal cruelty was committed by males (DeRosa, 2002). A firsthand story from Marsha Millikin in the book Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse gives us a better understanding of this:

78


Safe Havens

About a hundred miles down the interstate, he opened the car door and ordered my daughter Christine to kick our dog Dusty out. When she refused, he told her he would do to Dusty what he did to Rocko, only he would do it right this time, and she could watch while he tortured and killed Dusty and dumped her off the side of the road, too. Then he said he would come home and kill me and Christine would be left alone with him. He raped Christine her first night alone in our new home while I was at work. She had just turned eight. (Ascione, 1999)

Christine was a child and there was nothing she could do. She was innocent and helpless, just like their dog, Dusty (Ascione & Arkow, 1999). The father knew that he had the upper hand in the situation already by just being her father, but in order to maintain complete control, he used their family dog as leverage. A study of 107 battered women, who tried to get help from a family violence center after abuse, was done by Dr. Frank Ascione in Atlanta, Georgia. In the survey, 44 percent of the women said the abuser in the situation threatened to harm their animals unless they helped them commit an illegal crime. One of the women being surveyed told Dr. Ascione her personal story. She was a 33-yearold woman who was choked and punched by her husband all throughout their five-year marriage. When the husband lost his job, he threatened to kick her dog to death unless she drove the getaway car from the bank he was planning to rob. “I was sure he would kill my little Terry Terrier if I didn’t do what he said,” the woman explained. “I felt trapped” (Yeoman, 2008). Animal abuse and domestic violence go hand in hand, and once they start, how do they stop? And where do you go when you and your pet are being abused? Many women are faced with these very questions. The answer is shelters. There are shelters for battered women all over the United States, but what about the animals left behind in the dangerous situation these very women are trying to flee? After many years of abuse, victims are eventually affected. It not only takes a toll on the victim, but on the children and animals that are also in the house, making it hard for the victims to flee their house and go to a shelter or safe place to live. What happens when the victim finally finds a place of safety but pets aren’t allowed (Kallio, 2008)? “Dogs are a man’s best friend,” is a common saying that we have all heard, but what about the relationship between a dog and a woman? The relationship between a woman and her pet may be the closest relationship she has (Kallio, 2008). Sometimes a pet is the only source of comfort a woman may have, especially after being abused. Phil Arkow, the head of humananimal bonds at the American Humane Association says, “Pets have become pawns in the battle of power and control that marks domestic violence.” Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence would feel like they are unable to escape the constant terror they face every day, but for women who own animals it becomes much more difficult for them to leave the one bond that they feel secure about (Yeoman, 2008).

79


Safe Havens

A solution to this problem is to open up safe havens. “Safe Havens” are shelters where there is an arrangement between women’s shelters and humane shelters or veterinary facilities, which gives safe housing to animals that have been a part of a violent situation in a household (Carlisle-Frank & Flanagan, 2006). Giving women a place to bring their animals when they are finding a way out makes the process a lot easier. Women feel more comfortable leaving their homes knowing their animals also have a place to go. “There are some who would criticize these women for not putting their children first, but these animals are often the only link they have to love and affection,” said Alicia Bottari, a member of New Jersey Lawyers in Defense of Animals, and a volunteer on the Franklin Township Domestic Violence Response Team. Women will always care about their children, but animals are helpless. Programs can be set up where the battered women’s shelters work hand in hand with local animal shelters for pets. This not only helps solve the problem of domestic violence but also limits the amount of animal abuse. To fund these programs, the shelters can link up with the local Humane Society and local battered women’s shelters. Since local Humane Societies are volunteer-based and are run strictly from donations, different fundraisers could be held to bring in extra money. The community would be greatly relied on. With every donation made, an innocent animal is keeping its life and the welfare of the victims is being preserved. Having a donation and volunteer based program means time-limits must be put on the amount of time the animals can stay at the safe shelter, since supplies and money are limited. A 90-day time limit could be enforced. This will give the battered women a place for them and their animals to stay while they figure out what is best for them to do in the situation to get out of danger and stay out of it. The “Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims,” or SAAV program in Dane County, Wisconsin is a great example of the success of safe havens. The SAAV is a non-profit and volunteer-based organization that teamed up with the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services and the Dance County Humane Society to create foster care for the animals of battered women looking for shelter. The SAAV opened in 2003 and has since put 36 pets into foster care while the owners were staying at a relatives house or living in a battered women’s shelter that did not accept animals. One of the women who used this program in the past wrote a comment to SAAV saying her decision to leave was made when she became aware her pet could be safe when she left. The woman told SAAV she was relaxed and secure in leaving, knowing her pet was in a shelter. The same woman also wrote on in her comments, “Thank the Lord for angels and people with a good and kind heart” (Kallio, 2008). No woman should feel that they have to stay in a dangerous situation or return to one for the fear that their “loving” partners are going to abuse their animals. Creating a “safe haven” for a woman and her pet is important to stopping the cycle of not only domestic violence, but the animal abuse that comes along. Where will you go when your only option won’t accept your best friend, your pet? 80


Safe Havens

References

Ascione, F.R. (1999). The abuse of animals and human interpersonal violence. In F. R. Ascione & P. Arkow (Eds.). Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for Prevention and Intervention (pp. 120-136). West Lafayette: Purdue University Press. Ascione, F.R., Weber, C. V., & Wood, D. S. (1997). The abuse of animals and domestic violence: A national survey of shelters for women who are battered. Society & Animals 5 (3), 205-218. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Carlisle-Frank, P. & Flanagan, T. (2006). Silent Victims: Recognizing and Stopping Abuse of the Family Pet. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. DeRosa, B. (2002). Understanding Animal Cruelty: A resource book for high-school students and their teachers. National Association for Humane and Environmental Education & Humane Society Press. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Grace, S. (2008, June-July). New CVM Program Ushers in a ‘Safe Haven’ for Pets. Mississippi Landmarks, 30-31. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Kallio, S. (2008, March). Pet protectors program offers care for animals that might be targets of domestic abuse. Wisconsin State Journal 16. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. Quinlisk, J. A. (1999). Animal abuse and family violence. In F. R. Ascione & P. Arkow (Eds.): Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for Prevention and Intervention. (pp. 168-175). West Lafayette: Purdue University Press. Intimate partner violence declined between 1993 and 2004. (2006, December 28). U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/ Yeoman, B. (2008, June). The case of the battered pet. The Oprah Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/omagazine.html

81


photo by Jonathan Alvira


Social Stigma: Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia in Today’s Society by Isabelle Murray

My sister is perfect in my eyes: she graduated with a 3.9 GPA in Chemical Engineering from Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. She did cancer research at the Mayo Clinic, set the records in basketball and track, and worked with a music program to teach underprivileged children how to play musical instruments. She also has Bipolar Disorder (BPD). When I think of my sister, I don’t see a woman with a mental illness, I see a woman who excels in everything she puts her mind to. Often times in our society however, when we learn that someone has a mental illness, we let that mental illness define who they are, when in reality, it is only one facet of a complex multi-faceted person. There are two mental illnesses that carry the heaviest stigma in our society: Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. Although Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are not often seen as having many similarities, they do share two very important things: one, that when people think of the stereotypical crazy person, they are usually thinking about a person suffering from either severe Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia and two, both disorders are characterized by episodes of delusions. The misconceptions that our society has about these disorders harm not only those who have them, but also our society as a whole, physically and emotionally. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision Guidebook (DSM-IV-TR Guidebook), the Bible of psychiatry, defines Schizophrenia as being characterized by at least two of the following symptoms: … delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech (e.g. frequent derailment or incoherence), grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, and negative symptoms i.e. affective flattering, alogia [also known as lack of speech] or avolition [also known as a lack of desire, drive, or motivation to seek meaningful goals]. (First, 2004)

83


Social Stigma

Schizophrenia affects approximately 2.4 million Americans, affecting both men and women equally (“National Institute”, 2009). The age of onset is typically late adolescence, affecting women later in adolescence than men. Schizophrenia is also one of the hardest mental illnesses to treat due in part to the highly undesirable side effects of the medications most commonly used for treatment. The side effects range from feeling out of focus or foggy, to extreme weight gain and debilitating drowsiness. The cost for the medication is extremely high and is difficult, if not impossible, to afford without insurance. Even with the medication people still hear voices and experience other symptoms, the medicine simply allows them to resist the urge to give in to the disorder. People with schizophrenia also usually need to be hospitalized. The typical person with schizophrenia is hospitalized on average, five times in their life. It is an expensive and often times debilitating disorder. Bipolar Disorder is characterized by periods of mania and depression. Mania is characterized by three or more of the following symptoms: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking, flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing, distractibility, increase in goal-directed activity, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences. (First, 2004, p. 192)

Depression on the other hand is just the opposite: depressed mood, diminished interest in pleasurable activities, weight loss, insomnia, fatigue, indecisiveness, and recurrent thoughts of death. While some of the symptoms of a manic episode may appear to be preferably to those of depression, it is often when a person is manic that they do the most harm to their lives. Being in a manic episode is comparable to being high; often times in fact, when a person is manic, it may appear that they are actually on drugs. When people are manic, they go on shopping sprees, have unprotected and risky sex, and even steal; activities some wouldn’t engage in if they were rational. The consequences of their mania can be devastating. They can lose money, get diseases, or even lose their loved ones because of their actions. And yet people with BPD often times don’t want to be on meds to treat their disorder, some prefer the outcome feeling of mania. The treatment for BPD is much the same as the treatment for schizophrenia. In fact, many of the same medications that are used to treat schizophrenia are also used to treat BPD; which means that the same horrible side effects that people with schizophrenia experience with their medication are also experienced by people with BPD who take their medication. There is a trade off when it comes to medication to treat these disorders: sanity with the price of weight gain and fogginess. Yet it is a trade off that many people with these disorders choose to make in order to better fit into today’s society.

84


Social Stigma

There are two huge misconceptions that surround those with schizophrenia and BPD that do the most harm to them and to our society: medications are bad and that those with schizophrenia and BPD are mentally incompetent and not fit for society. Alternative medicine is gaining popularity in our society, which is great news for people with a cold or the flu, but horrible news for a person with BPD or schizophrenia. One of the worst statements you can make to a person with schizophrenia is: “Oh you don’t need that medication you’re taking! It’s horrible for you! Just take some crushed juniper root.” People with schizophrenia and BPD already don’t want to be on their medicine because of the way it makes them feel, they don’t need any encouragement to go off of it, and especially encouragement by someone who has no clue what they’re talking about. More than 1000 homicides are committed each year by people with schizophrenia or BPD who have gone off of their medication (Torrey, 1997). The people who commit the crimes are usually people suffering from severe paranoia and who have turned to either drugs or alcohol to help them cope with their symptoms. The combination of a mental illness and substance abuse can be deadly. However it is important to note that those who commit violent crimes are the exception not the rule. Dr. Torrey, a noted psychiatrist and author of several books on schizophrenia, says that “people with schizophrenia are far more likely to harm themselves than be violent toward the public. Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia” (1997). Other people claim that anti-psychotic medications aren’t natural and that they contain harmful chemicals. What these people fail to realize is that a person with schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder doesn’t have the same brain chemistry as your average Joe. They either lack or have an excess of some chemical in their brain, specifically dopamine and glutamate. According to experts at the worldrenowned Mayo Clinic: Problems with certain naturally occurring brain chemicals, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate, also may contribute to schizophrenia. Neuroimaging studies show differences in the brain structure and central nervous system of people with schizophrenia….they support evidence that schizophrenia is a brain disease. (“Schizophrenia Causes”, 2010)

This means that in their case, those medications are necessary for their brain to function normally. Another claim made by opponents of medication is that the side effects are too harmful. Some of the side effects are horrible, such as weight gain, drowsiness, and fogginess; however, in my opinion, it’s a necessary trade-off in order for those with BPD or schizophrenia to be able to function in society. Every medication has side effects; the question is what are you willing to deal with in order to decrease the symptoms of whatever illness you have?

85


Social Stigma

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about those suffering from schizophrenia and BPD is that they are mentally incompetent and unfit to function in society. Not only does this discredit those with the illness, it also seriously harms society in general. Leonardo da Vinci, John Nash, Edgar Allen Poe, Syd Barrett, Kurt Cobain, and Picasso all had either schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. To say that a person with Bipolar Disorder or schizophrenia is mentally incompetent or that they don’t have anything to contribute to society is saying that Leonardo da Vinci didn’t create one of the most well-known and controversial painting of American artwork and literature or that Edgar Allen Poe isn’t one of the most talented and famous historical poet to the English language. Where would we be today and their immeasurable contributions to society? Science is quickly discovering that there is a definite link between genius and madness. It is no coincidence that those with the highest IQs also suffer from mental illnesses. Despite, or maybe because of, his schizophrenia John Nash won the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 1994 for his work with game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations. Granted not every person walking around with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder is the next da Vinci, but I firmly believe that each individual has something to offer the world, be it a great sense of humor or a gift for creating masterpieces. These mental illnesses create a constant struggle in the lives of those suffering from them; often times, they just want to give up trying; they want to slip into the abyss of their delusions and not have to fight and claw their way to sanity. They need all the support and understanding they can get. They certainly don’t need people telling them that they’re of no significance to us “normal” people. Why would they want to keep striving to fit in with society when society wants nothing to do with them? It is understandable to shy away from and reject what we don’t understand; however, it is important to try and understand why someone is different and how that makes them a valuable member of society, because if we don’t our society loses a member that could have made our world a better place. My sister recently underwent six months of intensive inpatient therapy to treat her Bipolar Disorder. Before her treatment she was a first-year medical student in Chicago. My family’s biggest fear during those six months, apart from fear for her well being, was that the medical school wouldn’t readmit her into the program because of her diagnosis and her decision to undergo necessary treatment. Luckily the school recognized her potential, passion, drive and genius and chose to readmit her. Too often however, that is not the case and society are the ones who suffer the loss of what could’ve possibly been a great asset to the community.

86


Social Stigma

References

First, M. (2004). DSM-IV-TR Guidebook. Washington D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing Inc. National Institute of Mental Health. (2009, August 10). The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/ Schizophrenia Causes (2010, January 30). Retrieved March 24, 2010 from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizophrenia/DS00196/DSECTION=causes Torrey, E. F. (1997). Out of Shadow: Confronting America’s Mental Illness Crisis. New York City: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

87


Taking a Step Outside by Kaitlyn Knudson

A man draws back the curtains on his window to peer outside. Instead of a blast of sunshine in his eyes, he sees families with sunken faces huddled together, fear clearly visible in their eyes as they realize they have nowhere to go. Pools of dark red blood soaked bodies that line dirty streets, women scream as men drag them by their hair, babies wiggle and squirm in the arms of no one. Tears stream down the man’s face as he watches. He could open the door and make an effort to help, but the world outside his door seems so far away, while his armchair is warm and inviting. Helpless and frightened, he wipes the tears from his face, and yanks the curtains closed. Huddled in his armchair, he clicks on his T.V. and his mind races back to happier thoughts. What every individual became that man, blocking out the problems of the world, retreating back to the comfort of ones’ homes in a time of crisis? Sergeant Brian Steidle saw more than he expected to see when in 2004 he was ordered to fly into Darfur, an area in western Sudan, as a patrol leader to “monitor a cease fire,” (Stern & Sundberg, 2007). Darfur haunts him to this day. He witnessed Africans being slaughtered because they were Africans and not Arabs. He learned that the Janjaweed, “Devil on Horse,” Arab militia men set villages on fire, raped women, and murdered civilians. Corruption proliferated rumors that the Sudanese government supplied the weapons to the Janjaweed. As of today, the death toll in Darfur remains unknown, but Sam Dealey, writer for Time magazine claims, “at least 200,000 people have died since 2003 in a campaign that the Bush Administration described as government-sponsored genocide” (2009). Sergeant Steidle, armed with only a camera, witnessed genocide in his documentary, The Devil Came on Horseback, “They [the Janjaweed] pluck their [the citizens of Darfur] eyes out and burn people alive. They shoot children. That’s what we see here. They’ll sit there and smile at you and shake your hand. But you can see it in their eyes” (Stern & Sundberg, 2007). At the end of his documentary, weary Sergeant Steidle sits in a car headed for home, back in the states. Tears well up in his eyes; he catches them in the palms of his hands as he shields his face, embarrassed, “I stood there for six months and watched

88


Taking a Step Outside

people die,” he cries, “and I took pictures of them” (Stern & Sundberg, 2007). Although a tear can easily be shed for the victims in Darfur, genocide can easily fall into the back of our minds. There are many day-to-day priorities that consume society today, it is almost natural for the mid to drift away from these horrific details. Although, people are reminded every night on the 9 o’clock news, society may often lose empathy when death becomes a statistic and people become numbers rather than faces. It is unjust to say that people are heinous if the population doesn’t support the stopping of genocide; it is merely harder for others to picture the atrocities. If it was easy to stop genocide and all one had to say was “hey, I don’t like that”, or give one dollar to wipe genocide from the face of the planet- one might go for it. If people would recognize rather than shrug off Darfur’s current condition and understand that their money, time, and voice will have an impact, Darfur will be better off. It’s for some difficult to understand because people do not recognize the change effort, can create. For example, it seems there are scams everywhere waiting to happen, but Joanne Fritz (2006), who has been a part of non-profit work for nearly thirty years, offers advice on how to spot corrupt organizations online. Her advice includes three easy steps: verify the organization through the IRS, check out their tax-exempt status, and check out Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org), a website that ranks charities and calculates which charities “do the most good” with the donations received. There are ways to even ensure that 1 percent of one’s contribution is headed in the right direction. Mark Twain declared “action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.” Although action will always be necessary, words are the fundamentals, in order to instill actions. When New York Times reporter and activist Nicholas D. Kristof took his concerns for Darfur genocide to President Barack Obama, Mr. Obama responded, “… we need greater pressure from the American public to tell their Senators ‘this is something that we are paying attention to, and we want you to prioritize it” (Stern & Sundberg, 2007). Between the months of April and June of 1994, about 800,000 Rwandans were wrongfully and brutally murdered. “For decades, whenever the topic of genocide has come up, the refrain has been, ‘Never again,’” wrote Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times, “Yet right now…in [the] Darfur region here… some 1,000 people are being killed a week, tribeswomen are being systematically raped, 700,000 people have been driven from their homes, and Sudan’s Army is even bombing the survivors. And the world yawns” (2005). One of the most powerful tools society has is voice, and one of the most powerful freedoms in America is the ability to use that voice to change the government. Martin Luther King, Jr. used voice to lead a revolution for the people of color in America by declaring his “I have a dream” speech. Abraham Lincoln set forth the motion to abolish slavery when he shared The Gettysburg Address with the world. Patrick Henry stood up in a room full of people seeking change and boldly declared “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Nicholas D. 89


Taking a Step Outside

Kristof wrote in another New York Times article, “I know it isn’t that satisfying to talk about writing one’s member of Congress or calling the White House, still, remember what former Senator Paul Simon of Illinois said after the 1994 Rwandan genocide: If each member of Congress had received just 100 letters urging action, that would have been enough … And then Washington would have done what it took” (2006). Back in 2003 three college students from the University of Southern California took a trip to northern Uganda with a cheap video camera, seeking adventure. What they found there would spring forth an enormous nonprofit organization and a movement called the Invisible Children campaign; a campaign that would prove small actions in large numbers could make a dramatic difference in awareness for people of a third-world nation. The students found that children were being kidnapped from their beds at night and forced to take part in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. They would be brainwashed into killing their own families and kidnapping other children. When shown to schools, colleges, and churches, the documentary inspired the passing of “The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act” to take effect March 2010. The bill, according to the Invisible Children’s main website (http://www. invisiblechildren.com), “requires President Obama and his team to develop a comprehensive strategy to help see an end to LRA atrocities,” once passesed in the House of Representatives. Thousands of people rallied for the bill to be passed; the documentary Invisible Children started a word of mouth revolution. A petition online through one of the main genocide intervention websites Save Darfur (http://www.savedarfur.org), urges individuals to sign for the arrest of Sudanese President al-Bashir and will be sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. “Going after rulers like al-Bashir may not lead to an immediate arrest, says the [International Criminal] court and its backers, but it makes them pariahs and isolates them,” Time magazine’s Sam Dealey wrote after an interview with al-Bashir (2009). The Invisible Children website proudly boasts that “259,472 people have signed the Citizen’s Arrest Warrant for Joseph Kony … On May 24, 2010 President Obama signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act into law … Last April we made it clear “We Want Obama,’ and a little over a year later, he invited us into the Oval Office as he signed the bill into law. Whoa.” Thousands said “never again” after the Holocaust turned millions of people into dust, and after well over half a million Rwandans were massacred in 100 days. If each citizen called enough times about this situation, representatives would start to think about change in Darfur. Those voices for change would eventually turn into actions. All it takes is access to a phone, the dialing of 1-800-GENOCIDE, and a few minutes of time. Save Darfur (http://www. savedarfur.org), stated that the hotline has already “played a direct role in the following successes: Successfully passed the Sudan Accountability and

90


Taking a Step Outside

Divestment Act, helped ensure adequate funding for the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, and effectively encouraged the appointment of a Special Envoy for Sudan.” Contacting members of Congress it can be done via social networking. Stop Genocide Now (http://www.stopgenocidenow.org) is a global community consisting of volunteers dedicated to exactly what the website’s title reads. This group encourages all readers to do something as small as copying and pasting a paragraph they have already written in an attempt to urge members of Congress to bring Sudan to President Obama’s attention, to seven members of Congress’s Facebook pages or contributing a smaller text for Twitter posts. It’s time to throw away the excuses and pay attention to Darfur. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it: “Man’s inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of those who are bad. It is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of those who are good” (Kristof, 2005). Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher and one of Australia’s top ten most influential figures, gives an interesting scenario of a child drowning in a shallow pond. “Imagine,” he tells his Princeton University students, “that you are on your way to class and spot this child. Should you wade in the water and save the child, regardless of getting your clothes wet and being late to class?” (1997). When given such a point-blank example, it is an automatic reaction to care less of clothes and save another. In reality, it is more complicated. Saundra Schimmelpfen, who has more than twenty years of experience dealing with non-profit organizations and runs The Charity Rater, shows more realistic examples of this scenario, “What if you aren’t a strong enough swimmer and drown while attempting the rescue? What if while in the middle of the river you look down stream and realize that it’s not just this one child that’s drowning but there are hundreds of helpless children struggling in the river? Do you stay and try to save them all or do you leave to get more help knowing that many of them may drown while you’re away?” (Schimmelpfen, 2010). Although all possibilities of the scenario must be considered, individuals should help the best way possible. Society must take on a more altruistic outlook of the world. “Pure altruism … requires a person to sacrifice for another without consideration of personal gain,” wrote New York Times online editorial writer Judith Lichtenberg (2010). Some people argue that pure altruism does not exist. They argue that when committing a good deed, humans seek that “warm glow” of selfish motivation. And in the end, what if others are still motivated by selfish actions? Even if selfish reasons are behind doing deeds, why not be altruistically selfish rather than just selfish? Reaching this goal of real altruism starts with better understanding of one’s self. It begins with knowing where one’s own sense of “goodness” comes from, whether found through God, being a part of a charity, or letting a neighbor borrow a lawn mower. When over-worked and stressed, one gets in the mindset of ‘why should I put somebody else’s problems before my own?’ With a clear

91


Taking a Step Outside

mindset, others’ problems may seem less intimidating. An excellent way to clear the mind starts by doing a simple task, meditation. Colin Allen recorded a meditation study in Psychology Today that stated, “The brain waves of meditators show why they’re healthier. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex—brain waves in the stressprone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before,” (2003). Author Marc Ian Barasch stated that when he took up meditation, it reminded him that loving a complete stranger wasn’t as difficult as he assumed, “Finding my way back to meditation helped. Nothing like getting a good, long look at myself (and funny how much I looked like everyone else),” (2005). By simply being in a better mood, people seem to be more generous and open to fellow human beings. This can positively impact future generations. Barasch claims, “Most social theories hold that altruists are the product of moral example, the power of which has even been demonstrated in the lab,” (2005). He gives an example of an experiment in which children were viewed through a one-way mirror. The children were divided into two groups; the first group watched an adult play a game then share her prize tokens with others, the second group watched an adult play a game and keep her winnings to herself. Viewed later, the researchers found that the children whom had witnessed generosity were more likely to share during playtime with other children (Barasch, 2005). Any individual is capable of positive change; the smallest actions can make an enormous impact on the world. Barasch, in Field Notes on the Compassionate Life, writes “Every now and then, I’ll meet an escapee; someone who has broken free of self-centeredness and lit out for the territory of compassion … it feels so good to be around them. They stand there, radiating photons of goodwill, and despite yourself you beam back, and the world, in a twinkling, changes,” (2005). The man watching TV in his armchair hears a knock on his door. Reluctantly, he walks across the room and timidly opens his door to find his neighbor standing outside. The neighbor insists that he come outside. Two will be better than one, the neighbor exclaims. The neighbor drags him from his house into the light. Soon a third person will join them, then a fourth, as they begin to knock on every door, knowing that they will have more power in numbers.

92


Taking a Step Outside

References

100 Days of Action: The Referenda Countdown (2010, October 20). Stop Genocide Now. Retrieved from http://www.stopgenocidenow.org Accountability for Genocide: Genocide Arrest Warrant for Bashir (2010). Save Darfur. Retrieved from http://www.savedarfur.org Allen, C. (2003, April 1). The benefits of meditation. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com Barasch, M. I. (2005). Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness. The United States of America: Rodale. Dealey, S. (2009, August 13). Omar al-Bashir: Sudan’s wanted man. TIME. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time Frtiz, J. (2006, July 14). Don’t be fooled by fake charities [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://nonprofit.about.com Kristof, N. D. (2005, March 2). The American witness. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Kristof, N. D. (2006, November 20). How to help Darfur. The New York Times. Retreived from http://www.nytimes.com Lichtenberg, J. (2010, October 19). Is pure altruism possible?. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Schimmelpfen, S. (2010, September 13). If only it were that simple- Peter Singer’s aid analogy. Good Intentions are Not Enough. Retrieved from: http://goodintents.org Singer, P. (1997, April 5). The drowning child and the expanding circle. New Internationalist, Issue 289. Retrieved from http://www.newint.org Stern, R. & Sundberg, A. (Writers/Directors) (2007). The Devil Came on Horseback [Documentary]. United States: Break Thru Films. We Want Obama (2010). Invisible Children. Retrieved from http://www.invisiblechildren.com.

93


watch


Shutter Island: A Review by Paige Szymkowski

“So this female prisoner …” “… Patient.” “Is she considered dangerous?” “You could say that” (Scorsese, 2010). Summer 2010 sizzled with movie blockbusters. Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, one of the many summer blockbusters, puts a new spin on typical mysteries and suspense movies. United States Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is on a special case involving a missing patient from a mental hospital—a case he has personal reasons for taking. Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), are sent out on waters so rough that Daniels has to first find his sea legs before he can take on this case. One of the first things one learns from watching this film is that the setting for the movie takes place at an old Civil War base off the coast of Boston. The year is 1954. There is an air of Boston in the way Daniels and others talk, pronouncing “partner” as “pahtner.” The decor within the halls of this hospital, the old Civil War base, and Dr. Cawley’s office, all give the old-world feel of the era of the Civil War. Even the music Cawley plays gives off a feeling of old-world. The skies are looming with storms waiting to attack the small island. Upon arrival, everything seems more like a warning to get off the island, from the menacing guards, to the Ashecliffe Hospital Cemetery sign that reads, “Remember us for we too have lived, loved, and laughed.” Everything about where the hospital is located makes it seem more like a prison than a hospital for the criminally insane. Or is it a prison? If it is, who are they trying to keep out? Or, who are they trying to contain within its borders? Maybe the location is both a hospital and prison. Maybe those contained within the brick walls are prisoners of their own minds, trapped in an alternate reality of some sort. Once permitted inside the heavily-guarded gates, Daniels and Aule pass by some seemingly harmless patients, aside from the chains imprisoning them. The last patient, however, is creepy; so creepy she could rival the late Heath Ledger’s character as The Joker from The Dark Knight. Her dark, beady, red-lined eyes

97


Shutter Island: A Review

follow Daniels’ every move. Scant patches of hair fall lifelessly from her scalp. Baggy, oversized clothes dangle from her frail body. Her smile, filled with rotting teeth, seems to say, “I know something you don’t.” A red line drawn cleanly across her throat is visible as she gives Daniels the “be quiet/don’t say anything” motion of her index finger over her lips. She seems to have lost her age to time. The only sign of life seems to arise from the well-maintained flowers, grass and shrubs surrounding the buildings. Everything else seems lifeless in a sense. The creepy atmosphere does not faze Daniels. Instead, it drives him to ask questions, particularly about the patient who has gone missing overnight. During an interview with the leading doctor on the island, Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the two make seemingly minuscule comments. These comments keep referring to the people at the hospital more as prisoners than as patients. Not only do Daniels’ questions and actions make him a great detective, but his flashbacks to his past seem to imply that he is no ordinary detective. He asks and demands what he wants, and if he doesn’t get it, he reacts in a quite explosive manner. This interview seems to turn into an interrogation in a matter of minutes. Daniels is yelling and upset, possibly using this yelling as a tactic to extract the information he needs to drive the investigation forward. Perhaps he, too, is a little mentally disturbed. But through these flashbacks, he learns more and more. More names, more questions to ask, more areas to explore. At some points, he even seems to catch on to a greater evil; an unethical evil surrounding all the patients. Daniels repeatedly interviews and interrogates patients, asking if they have ever met fellow patient Andrew Laeddis (Elias Koteas). They all say no, almost as if they were told to do so. He seems to be a ghost, disappearing without a trace, “like he never existed” (Scorsese, 2010). Just who is Andrew Laeddis, and why does Daniels repeatedly ask for him? Even the music is synchronized perfectly; so perfectly, in fact, that something disastrous is seemingly bound to happen around each and every corner. From this, fear is automatically instilled into the hearts and minds of the viewers; a fear not only of what will happen, but also a fear for the characters’ sake. Director Martin Scorsese definitely knows how to set the scene. He cuts the scenes in just the right places—not too early or too late. Each scene seems to give up more clues. He uses all the correct angles to execute every scene with perfection. Scene by scene is created meticulously: The dark walls of the hospital, the imminent storms, the depressing nature of the patients. It all creates a sense of lurking danger. Some scenes are so excellently done that when a new scene emerges, it’s almost as if you’ve just been watching your favorite TV show, and they leave you at a cliff hanger. All these elements that make Shutter Island so great are also present in Scorsese’s The Departed. DiCaprio and Scorsese work together so well, almost like they feed off each other, and know exactly what the other wants. The Departed uses these dark elements to set the scene of crime and

98


Shutter Island: A Review

mystery. Even a little suspense is present. All the right angles, in both movies, are utilized so well, it’s almost as if you feel like you are there experiencing the action for yourself. However, for how great of a director Scorsese is, some scenes seem to be a bit of an editing flop, or just simply unbelievable. For example, when Daniels and Aule are seeking shelter from a wicked storm, one moment they are outside, the next they are inside, on the floor. There seems to be no middle ground as to how either of them got into the building. Also, when the initial power and the backup generator were taken out by a hurricane, a huge branch from a tree is dropped from about 10 feet up. The wood may as well have been a light bulb, because it shattered into multiple pieces, like a light bulb does when dropped on tile. The whole mystery and suspense of the film is enough to keep one guessing throughout. The flashbacks only add more names and confusion to the mystery. It’s not until one finds out what truly happens in the lighthouse, that a true evil emerges and it all starts to make sense. This, overall, is a great movie delivered with powerful acting. So great, in fact, one has to watch the movie more than once to fully understand the details and everything that happens. Every expectation you have previously had for this genre, this movie will exceed.  

References

Scorsese, M. (Director), & Kalogridis, L. (Producer). (2010). Shutter Island [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

99


Don’t Remember Me by Amy Ostroff

Robert Pattinson has done it again! He succeeded at being the smoldering tough guy who makes every prepubescent girl faint with just one glance in his latest romantic historical fiction movie: Remember Me. His character, Tyler Hawkins, is smart, charming, aggressive, and a typical American bad boy. Wait a minute … no he isn’t! Pattinson delivers the lines like a robot, and only changes tone for one scene in the entire movie. Toward the end of the film, Tyler bursts into his father’s office and yells and makes a scene. For the remainder of the movie, he is stiff as drywall. Badasses like Tyler are supposed to have inner sensitive sides; but since when do macho men cook and clean and have jobs? And tough guys certainly don’t have diaries either. There’s no way anyone can be both primary aggressor and extremely sensitive guy. Pick one and stick to it! The first few scenes, I’ll admit, had me convinced of alleged punk Tyler Hawkins’ badassedness. In his first appearance he drinks a beer and smokes a cigarette just outside his perfectly messy apartment. The phone rings and he slowly gets up, answers it half-interested, then the screen fades to black. But as the movie progresses, the nonchalant guy who didn’t care about anything or anyone around him disappears. Cleaning in general was pushing it, but baking a cake? And writing a cute inside joke on it? Totally out of character for the Tyler Hawkins who beats up strangers and talks back to cops. He is over-confident and seems to have little-to no-problems picking up girls. However, when his roommate dares him to flirt with Ally, he becomes shy and nervous. He doesn’t know her, therefore there is absolutely no reason their conversation would draw any emotion out of him. Tough guys don’t get scared of girls! Tyler’s character is written in a way that makes him unrealistic. No one in real life is as moody and has such extreme personality traits. Tyler Hawkins comes from a well-off, but broken family. His brother committed suicide about eight years prior, which somehow resulted in his parents’ divorce not long after. His father holds a heavy throne in his company and spends most of his time focusing on work. His children are happy in his

100


Don’t Remember Me

eyes because they have all the possessions they need. He fails to see that Tyler and Caroline seek his love, not his pocket book. Tyler’s little sister Caroline is his weakness. He tries his best to protect her from the evils of the world, but he cannot shelter her from it all. Ally Craig is also the product of a broken home. Her mother was murdered right in front of her, and her father is a police officer who just can’t let go of his baby girl. Eventually Ally and Tyler’s paths cross and intertwine—romance and conflict, then more romance ensues: the cliché first date at a carnival, witty dinner conversation, a sex montage, and of course, dramatic fades in between scenes. This film even went above and beyond and had three horribly awkward and untimely sex scenes. The last scenes of the movie take place on September 11, 2001, and feature the attacks on the Twin Towers. Now I’m sure you’re wondering how Tyler and Ally’s love story had any connection to the terrorist attacks. In all honesty … it didn’t. Remember Me is supposed to be an epic film connecting people to people all over the nation. Every American is connected by this event and Tyler and Ally are the examples to prove the point. After researching and wasting too much time pondering, the goals of this movie are realized. During the movie, the intentions are not clear and as a result, not relayed to the audience. The first scene featuring Caroline playing on a statue and talking with her brother does not have a single solid second of steady footage. The entire conversation is an earthquake. While not everyone is bothered by this, even a first time director like Allen Coulter should immediately pick out unintentional camera motion. It’s distracting and unprofessional. While creativity and variety in shots are appreciated, the shaky shots are not. It doesn’t cost much to get a tripod with wheels on it, or to build a stand allowing more freedom. If the people behind the movie could afford to employ the infamous Robert Pattinson, they should also shell out the money to have quality footage. It’s the small details that make the big picture a hit. Speaking of small details, toward the end there is the all-important shot of the date written in cursive on the blackboard: September 11, Z001. Seriously. It’s not a two; it’s a Z. This shot helps get the point across. This shot is one of the most important establishing shots in the entire movie, and they couldn’t take the time to write a two correctly. Immediately after this atrocious image, we see Tyler in the Twin Towers, his dad’s office, then we see Caroline at school, and then the ah-ha! moment happens. The audience figures out what’s going to happen next and prepares for all hell to break loose. There they are, on the edge of their seats, and not one single person on the entire crew could fix the blackboard to say 2001. Coulter almost had me wrapped up in the story instead of analyzing and critiquing for a nanosecond there. Almost. Full-length features are not Allen Coulter’s calling. He has done a phenomenal job directing television shows such as Law & Order, Sons of Anarchy and The Sopranos, but this full-length feature had too much full-length. Who could 101


Don’t Remember Me

stand two full hours of complete depression and awful violin plucking? No one should have to. The reality is: cheesy love stories like this are perfect for those who have a thirteen-year-old girl’s heart, are die hard Twilight fans, and true believers in Hollywood love. Fans of Dear John, Twilight, and Charlie St. Cloud will surely appreciate Remember Me. Okay, I get it, it’s a tragedy. But it’s not a daytime soap opera. Pierce Brosnan as Charles Hawkins, and Chris Cooper as Neil Craig are way too dramatic. The facial expressions are over-emphasized. It’s practically a circus. Tyler’s running around simultaneously writing sad poetry and yelling at his father, while both dads follow their children around aimlessly, their faces a display of emotions they learned in acting school. Aidan, Tyler’s roommate, is cracking stupid jokes and trying to be the king’s fool and Caroline is in the middle pretending to be ten but looking like she’s seven. Aidan’s character is not necessary to the movie. It can be argued he provides much needed comedic relief, but that is in no way true. He serves no purpose and has no effect on the storyline. In fact, the movie could become a lot simpler and easier to follow without him. Emilie de Ravin’s performance as Ally, however, is splendid. She is believable and funny and charming, as an ingenue should be. She carries herself the same way the entire movie. As time goes along, she slowly opens up and we get to know her. Although she was surrounded by mediocrity, she outshone the remaining cast members. While some are afraid to scold a movie with a scene reflecting on a tragedy from America’s recent past, simply including a reminder of a shocking event does not automatically make a movie a “good” one. It had potential and could have possibly achieved its goals with a different cast and final editor. Remember Me, contrary to the title, should just be forgotten.

References

Coulter, A. (Director) Fetters, W. (Writer). Pattinson, R. & Cuddy, C. (Producers). (2010). Remember Me. United States: Summit Entertainment. (Original release date 2010.)

102


photo by Jonathan Alvira


Afro Samurai: A Review by Travis A. Pruitt II

Ready for fast-paced, hack-and-slash action? Then look no further than the five-episode animated television series created by Fuminori Kizaki, Afro Samurai. Based on the manga series created and illustrated by Takashi Okazaki, each half-hour long episode is filled with enough action to leave you drooling for more. Despite being another anime based on the life of a samurai, this one delivers where others do not. The main character, called Afro (due to his giant afro), is not the typical “good guy” most samurai anime revolve around. Furthermore, despite the length of each episode, the bloodshed far surpasses any samuraibased anime currently out on the market. Featuring the voice of the infamous Samuel L. Jackson, this hit anime is bound to please anyone who picks it up. Most people may start to think, “Wait, Samuel L. Jackson voicing a cartoon? Is he trying to broaden his horizons?” But the smooth talker he portrayed in 1994’s Pulp Fiction, Jules Winnfield, is necessary for Afro’s character. Afro is an emotionless being, detached from society, living only for the kill, and seeking revenge on Justice, the man who killed his father before his very eyes. As Afro roams the world in search of Justice, he is constantly hunted by others, whom he mercilessly cuts down. When questioned why he had to slaughter an entire gang, Afro calmly replies, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just revenge,” (Kizaki, 2007) before decapitating the unfortunate soul. Whether he is sipping a nice, refreshing glass of lemonade or walking along a mountain path, people aim for his life; however, quick on the draw, the emotionless, killing-machine nicknamed the Afro Samurai makes the sky rain with the blood of his enemies. When compared to other anime of its genre, Afro Samurai goes above and beyond its predecessors. Unlike the samurai anime, Rurouni Kenshin, where the main character had a vow not to kill and lived to repent for his past, Afro comes to accept that death comes to anything he touches. Some may compare Kizaki’s work to the recent Samurai Champloo, which also mixed hip-hop culture with samurai action, but the main trio of the series pales in comparison to Afro. Kizaki’s depiction of Afro far surpasses that of the characters of Samurai Champloo because, whereas Afro’s main purpose is given and he does what-

104


Afro Samurai: A Review

ever it takes to move forward on his path, the Champloo trio are led to a single person, and their adventure does not harness any character development. As the series progresses, the viewer learns of Afro’s past—how his father was slain before him, how the young, parentless boy wandered with his father’s skull in a backpack, and how it makes him into the killing machine he grows up to be. Afro is on a hunt for a headband, specifically, the Number 1 headband. In the series, it is legend that whoever possesses the Number 1 headband will rule the world as a god. Afro’s father possessed this headband, and Justice murdered him to obtain it. Furthermore, the only one able to challenge the person holding the Number 1 headband is the person with the Number 2. However, before tying the Number 2 headband around his forehead, Afro is left with the chilling phrase, “Do you really know what it means to be the Number 2? It is a life of murder. We are born men to live not to kill. You must break the chain. Only we will be free of this terrible cycle,” (Kizaki, 2007). Starting on a macabre note, at the time of his master’s passing, the comic relief of the series is born in Ninja Ninja, Afro’s imaginary friend and alter-ego who has the personality of a young, immature child and says what Afro would say were his heart not made of ice. This character, voiced by Jackson as well, is what helps boost the series as a whole. He follows Afro, debating, “If it’s Afro’s natural pheromones or if he needs a shower, ‘cause assassins are coming at them like flies on hot shit,” (Kizaki, 2007). Then, when Afro falls over wounded, Ninja Ninja wonders if “it was something in the lemonade” Afro drank from a pub earlier. When Afro is in a pinch, Ninja Ninja likes to remind Afro’s enemies of “honor, and fairness, and shit.” Ninja Ninja uses sexual innuendos and questions Afro on why he must continue to kill everyone he lays his eyes on. All Afro can say in response to his companion is, “Shut up!” One of the most amazing features of this anime is that the creator mixes both Japanese cultures and American cultures to create an entirely new world. Though it appears to be set in the past, technology jumps around between mad scientists who live in secret, creating androids to do their bidding, the yakuza, mafia, and other gangs that roam freely, doing as they will, and rural villages with residents who have telephones and play rap music at their parties. At times, this world may seem unlikely, but this world is nothing short of awesome, and it helps keep the story interesting. The surprises that some of the people contain throw Afro into a state of panic: how can he reach an opponent who has launched him into the air and is shooting a flurry of poisoned arrows at him? The only way for Afro to win is to continue pushing forward and to kill without hesitation or discrimination. When he is faced with his childhood friend, he must ultimately end his life in order to reach his goal, as the path for the Afro Samurai is to only move forward. Furthermore, the way in which the action is displayed is absolutely fantastic. The artwork shows how much time and preparation went into making this series, and the effort put forth by the staff to make this a masterpiece is truly outstanding. 105


Afro Samurai: A Review

To compliment this series, a soundtrack was produced with it. Some of the songs were done by the infamous The RZA, one of the many members of the large rap group the Wu-Tang Clan. The music, combined with the amazing artwork of the series, is part of what makes it worthwhile. The artwork done in the film goes above all expectations. The backgrounds seem realistic, the movement of the characters, though sometimes impossible, flows perfectly, and there is no interruption in the movement or scenes. The way the shadows are portrayed and the effective use of light bring life to the animated cartoon. The series may be slightly drawn-out, but all-in-all, it is worth the $14.99 you will pay for the DVD. If you want to get the full effect of this series, pay the extra dollar or so for the uncut version for additional behind-the-scenes features. Regardless of what you think of anime, sit down and watch this short series. The plot is filled with enough action and drama to keep you glued to your seat. The main character is one with serious mental problems, and his side-kick is a side of Jackson we have never seen before.  

References

Kizaki, F. (Director). Okazaki, T. (Creator). (2007). Afro Samurai [Television series]. Spike TV.

106


Jersey Shore: A Beautiful Mess by Simona Skillingstad

Many people flip the channels in disgust when Jersey Shore comes on T.V. To them, the show only emphasizes a wild lifestyle filled with alcohol, sex, and hair gel. On the other hand, there are millions of viewers tuning into the show every Thursday. There is more to these tan and buff individuals than just hair gel. Seriously, what’s not love to about MTV’s newest reality show? I was hooked from the moment I saw “The Situation” and his abs of steel. This show is not like these other petty drama shows such as The Hills. The drama of young, rich, fake West Coasters is the complete opposite of what the Jersey Shore cast stands for. The first season starts off with eight roommates moving into a summer share in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, one of the most popular summer hot spots. The Jersey Shore cast reveals hilarious and over-the-top personalities, as they juggle work, love, nightlife, friendship, and the drama that occurs. The second season kicked off recently with the crew heading to Miami for the winter. The wild cast, skyscraper hair, fist pumping dance moves, and the now famous concept of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry), is what makes this trashy reality television show so darn good that it will leave you wanting more after every episode. The cast embraces the “Guido/Guidette” lifestyle. The lifestyle has its origins in, and is associated with, Italians in America. The culture has been showcased on Jersey Shore. The cast does not claim to speak for Italian-Americans across the country. However, some people feel the new show is reinforcing decades of stereotypes. Italian Americans have been portrayed negatively long before Jersey Shore came out, in movies and shows such as The Sopranos, Goodfellas, and The Godfather. The lifestyle includes wearing tight shirts, gelled hair, trendy jeans, hitting the gym, getting a tan, and fist pumping at the clubs. The crazy cast is the formula for this great reality show. Mike Sorrentino, aka “The Situation,” is from Staten Island, New York. Mike promotes a “Grenade (bigger, ugly chicks)-Free America” and attracts women through flashing his abs of steel in almost every episode. The Situation has some of the most memorable quotes of the show including, “You can hate on me all you want to, but what can you possibly say to somebody that looks like Rambo, pretty much, with his shirt

107


Jersey Shore: A Beautiful Mess

off,” and, “Everybody loves me, babies, dogs, ya’ know, hot girls, cougars. I just have unbelievable mass appeal.” Jenni Farley, “JWoww,” is from Franklin Square, New York. Spontaneous and impulsive, JWoww is not afraid to express herself. She is a party girl with zero control, and drama is sure to follow her wherever she goes. Paul DelVecchio, aka “Pauly D,” is Rhode Island’s most well-known DJ. He does his hair twice a day and keeps a tanning bed in his house. When working at the ice cream shop in one episode, Pauly D said, “My boss seems to think my hair is gonna’ fall off and go into the ice cream. This hair ain’t movin’ my dude. One hundred and fifty miles an hour on the highway on a street bike. Doesn’t move. What makes you think it’s gonna’ move in a gelato shop?” Nicole Polizzi, aka “Snooki,” is constantly looking for the man of her dreams at the Shore, describing her ideal man as being, “Italian, dark, muscles, juicehead, Guido.” She’s feisty, so don’t let her short height fool you! She created the infamous “poof” hairstyle. Snooki is the person who brings the show to life. In the first 10 minutes of Jersey Shore’s season two, Snooki holds President Obama personally responsible for not going tanning anymore, saying, “I don’t go tanning anymore because Obama put a ten percent tax on tanning. And, I feel like he did that intentionally for us. McCain would never put a tax on tanning.” Snooki is known for having obnoxious comments on the show like, “That’s why I don’t eat lobster or anything like that cause they’re alive when you kill it,” or, “Guys are douche bags and I hate them all. They don’t know how to deal with women and I feel that’s why the lesbian rate is going up in this country.” Her quotes are so out there and never quite make sense, but are hilarious and entertaining nonetheless. Italian-American organizations are offended and urging people not to watch the show. Some of the housemates are not Italian, like Snooki, who is Hispanic. UNICO National is the nation’s largest Italian American service organization established in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1922. Andre’ DiMino, the organization’s President, has become popular in his efforts against Jersey Shore since before its debut in November 2009. Prior to the premiere of the show, UNICO National requested that MTV cancel the show. In a letter to the network, UNICO called the show a “direct, deliberate and disgraceful attack on Italian Americans” (UNICO National, 2009, para. 1). DiMino said in a statement, “MTV is resorting to trash television that panders for ratings at the expense of the Italian American community” (“Italian American Organization,” 2009). Around this time, other Italian organizations joined the fight, including the NIAF, the Order Sons of Italy in America, and the Internet watchdog ItalianAware. MTV responded to the controversy by issuing a press release, which stated in part, “The ItalianAmerican cast takes pride in their ethnicity. We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture” (Mitchell, 2009, para. 1).

108


Jersey Shore: A Beautiful Mess

Every episode contains intense drama-filled scenes that make the show entertaining. I laugh at the drama they get into, yet wonder how these people actually live their lives. In one of the latest episodes, Sammi, aka “Sweetheart,” was devastated that Ronnie had been cheating on her, but she decided to take her anger out on the girls in the house! Sammi had received a mysterious note that informed her Ronnie was hooking up with girls at the club in Miami and then coming back home to her. When Sammi discovered that Snooki and JWoww were the ones who wrote the letter, the episode turned to straight chaos and violence. Sammi proceeded to confront JWoww, which turned into the kind of fight you would see on Jerry Springer! Sammi slapped JWoww and JWoww lifted Sammi up by her head. Hair pulling, scratching, and punches rounded out the fight. After the fight, Pauly D explained what the scene looked like saying, “I’ve never seen the kitchen this bad. There’s hair extensions, there’s fingernails, there’s like a tuna fish sandwich on the ground. It’s like WWIII went down last night, it’s crazy!” This Real World spin-off will leave the viewer on the edge of their seats wondering what’s going to happen next. Go ahead, grumble about how the show negatively represents our society as a whole, and how it is offensive to the Italian-American culture, but face it, the show creates wonderfully awful, infinitely quotable television. The cast of Jersey Shore promotes having a carefree attitude and not letting the little things stress you out, which serves as distraction from the everyday stressful events. There’s nothing bad about going out and having an exciting time. The ultimate purpose of reality television is solely to entertain, and Jersey Shore succeeds on multiple levels at doing just that.

References

Brooks, C. (2009). Italian-Americans and the g word: embrace or reject?. TIME. Retrieved from http://www.time.com Italian-American organization irate over MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ reality show (2009). New Jersey News Room. Retrieved from http://newjerseynewsroom.com Mitchell, W. (2009). MTV stands by ‘Jersey Shore’ despite Italian-American protest. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.ew.com Salsano, S. (Creator), French, J. (Executive Producer), & Kreisberg, B. (Director). (2009-2010). Jersey Shore [Television Series]. United States: MTV. UNICO National. (2009). UNICO demands MTV pull plug on “Jersey Shore” reality series which slurs Italian-American community. The Alternative Press. Retrieved from http://www.thealternativepress.com UNICO National. (2010). About UNICO. UNICO National. Retrieved from http://www.unico.org

109


photo by Sean Deckert


dream


The Ultimate Sacrifice by Leinea Benjamin

James Taylor Adams (1931) was an American dramatist who felt that his idea of the American Dream was something worth working for. His idea of the dream, however, involved more than merely obtaining it through a list of achievements and valuables owned. Most importantly, he stated that it was necessary to “be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” This idea of earning a position in life rather than being born into one is exactly what author Maya Angelou believed in. Her interpretation of the dream is to go as far as you can in all elements of life—to be both free and able to “control your own destiny.” She came from St. Louis Missouri, where racism was still prominent and the road to success was nothing more than a somber, weary, path to hopelessness. She was a single mother forced to face the world alone and do anything she could for her son to have a better life, whether that was taking on meager jobs or succumbing to prostitution just to support her family. Maya Angelou’s story resembles that of my grandmother’s struggle to support her family and the sacrifice of her own American dream for the sake of her children. My Grandmother, Geraldine Ruth Carter Ward, was a nice woman who was heavily involved in church when she wasn’t working. She served as one of the “first ladies,” meaning she sat in the front of the church with a few other women who all wore the same color and other women would come to them if they needed religious counsel. She was very soft- spoken, rarely complained, and kept a positive outlook on life. Anytime things would take a turn for the worst she would always say, “God has something better in store for me.” She only had an eighth grade education, which was more than a lot of women her age. She enlisted in the army when she was in her twenties, where she met her first love, Sceffers Ward. After being discharged they eloped to Milwaukee, married, and had eight kids: Pearl, Moliere, Derrick, Adrienne, Sceffers Jr., Aylicia, Shelia, and their youngest Yniska. After their eighth child he left her to play the roles of both mother and father.

113


The Ultimate Sacrifice

Growing up in the ninth ward projects in New Orleans wasn’t exactly the ideal place to experience a childhood or raise a family. It was rough. There wasn’t picturesque housing with white picket fences. The ninth ward projects were apartments composed of four units A through D, with only two floors, all made of red brick. One side was duplexes and a family would have to share with another. The opposite side was just single apartments. Louisiana is home to some of the biggest cockroaches in existence, and they would fester within the walls, bathrooms and underneath your refrigerator along with your occasional mouse, but those mostly ran the streets. There was a courtyard in the middle of the apartment complex; however, unlike today’s apartments there wasn’t a jungle gym, slides, swings, etc. to occupy the children so they could play. There was only one light in the middle of the courtyard, so it was very dark at night. My grandmother’s children had to make their own games. They couldn’t afford to have playing balls or toys, those were more of a luxury for them; they settled with playing with aluminum cans, rocks, and ice picks. As if migrating from Milwaukee to Louisiana as a single mother in a brown station wagon with eight kids wasn’t enough, within the first two days of living in the ninth ward my grandmother’s car was set on fire because she was the only one who had a car in that area. Back then, African Americans were extremely jealous of one another, especially down south, so if anyone had something even slightly different or better than the other it was either stolen or destroyed. Everything had to be the same. Caucasians lived on one side of the train tracks and African Americans on the other, and neither side would dare cross into the other’s. With that said, the police rarely showed up because they were on the “other side of the tracks.” Most times you had to deal with your problems yourself. Luckily for my grandmother, she had a cousin that people in the neighborhood would refer to as “Al Capone,” so rarely anyone would give her any problems. Being the “new kid” in the ninth ward, you were subjected to fighting as a type of initiation for not being born in Louisiana. My grandmother’s youngest girl had to fight a boy twice her age just because the people who lived in the neighborhood wanted to see if she were tough enough to withstand all the things that come with living in the ninth ward. That itself was a requirement. Otherwise you wouldn’t stand a chance. Hence, not very many African Americans had opportunities to make something of themselves in New Orleans. It was hard to learn anything in school without books and the job circuit was bleak, meaning jobs were very limited and didn’t pay very well. My grandmother witnessed people selling drugs, robbing banks, being falsely accused, and getting killed for the color of their skin. Moving away was the only alternative. Financial stability was one of the toughest things to maintain in New Orleans. My grandmother had to work a series of jobs just to feed and clothe her children and keep a roof over their heads. She would clean and lay down

114


The Ultimate Sacrifice

floors for this white man they called “Mr. Bud.” He owned a store called “Bud’s Floors” and he also rented out halls for wedding, parties, business purposes, etc. He was in his forties, not very tall, and had the whole western cowboy look: thick blonde whiskers, pretty fair skin, and receding hairline. He would always wear a hat and had a paunchy stomach that would hang over his big belt buckle. He was prejudiced, of course, but he would allow my grandmother to get all the leftover food from the parties that was thrown in the hall after she cleaned them because he knew her situation. Because he tried to play the role of a kindhearted old man, my grandmother didn’t know there was an ulterior motive with him. When her daughters were old enough she would send them to his house alone on the weekends to clean up so they could have some extra money. They hated going to his house because he would harass them by saying inappropriate things to them when my grandmother wasn’t around. It was the last straw when after one weekend my grandmother came to work and Mr. Bud offered her twenty five hundred dollars to buy her youngest daughter for his sexual escapades. She quit working for him and got a few other jobs doing janitorial services at different hotels. Because of this she wasn’t home too often. Her oldest kids would have to take on the responsibility of doing the shopping, washing, cleaning around the house and making sure the family stuck together. Eventually, my grandmother got promoted to head janitor, which was more like a supervisor position that paid a little more than what she was already making. Just when things started to look up for them, Hurricane Betsy hit in 1965. It was a level three hurricane, meaning that the water was deep enough to row a small boat in. Many families lost everything, but luckily my grandmother’s apartment was on the second floor so it didn’t get flooded. Everyone who lived on the ground floor had to either look for somewhere else to stay or see if their neighbors above would allow them stay with them until the water went down. Food was hard to come by during and after the hurricane and my grandmother would have to send her kids to the store while she would be at work or trying to help out from the storm. All her kids would have to go together and break into the store because no one could be left in the house alone, beside the fact that everyone had to carry something. They would have to swim to get to the store and if they couldn’t swim they would have to sit on the neck of another while they swam. They would typically get canned goods and things that were tightly sealed due them having to swim back and forth. For example, sticks of bologna were one of the things they would take from the store. Occasionally they would have syrup sandwiches or a corned beef hash concoction that my grandmother would create out of whatever she had at the time. After the hurricane, my grandmother realized that this wasn’t a life she wanted her kids to have, so she worked long shifts and saved up enough money to move to California. In the 1970’s they moved into a nice house in Los Angeles. The neighborhood was friendlier and more welcoming than what they were used to. Almost everyone had cars and you didn’t have to worry so much about jealous neighbors. It 115


The Ultimate Sacrifice

was like coming leaving the lion’s den to being in a place where people actually cared about you. For my grandmother, it was like she was a zebra without her stripes; she stuck out and everyone could tell she had been through many trials and tribulations. In California things were integrated; my grandmother noticed it was okay for whites and blacks to be seen together without the instant hatred and name-calling. The educational system was a lot better than New Orleans. They actually had books to use for every person and the teachers cared about each student and did everything they could ensure their future. All her kids went to Crenshaw High School and proceeded to go on to college. Aylicia had four kids and married the congo player from the old school band, Frankie Beverly and Maze. Yniska married and had two kids, and I am one. I am also one of the first in my generation to go to college to be a nurse practitioner. Aylicia and Yniska went on to open an interior design store that makes customized vertical blinds, upholstery, carpet, and bedding. Their business is still thriving today. Sceffers Jr. married and became a preacher. Derrick married and had children, one of whom is now in the NFL and a recipient of a Super Bowl ring. Even though my grandmother didn’t really achieve what people would call the American Dream, she did something more than that. She sacrificed her American Dream so that her children and future generations could have the opportunity to obtain a higher education, so we could all go out and live our dreams. Most importantly, for us to know that even with all the disappointments and roadblocks that we will face in life, we can do anything we set our mind to. All it takes is a little self-drive, initiative, determination and faith that God has something better in store for us all.

116


My American Dream by Julissa Villaverde

One of the Hispanic community’s most triumphant successes, Sandra Benitez, once stated, “Life gives us lessons and it’s just a circle” (Readers’, 2004). Some may assume that this is Benitez’s denotation of the “American Dream” that so many yearn to achieve in the United States. Growing up, Benitez did indeed learn the lessons life threw her way. Living in Mexico and El Salvador for much of her life, she realized that life was “frail and capricious” (Levine, 2004) without many guarantees. Later, Benitez’s parents considered the fact that their 14 year-old daughter would be attending high school and college very shortly. With Mexico containing less than 24 institutions of higher education with only about 30,000 students (Elliot, 2007), Mr. and Mrs. Benitez found it essential to send Sandra to the United States with her grandparents. Benitez moved between Latin-American and Anglo-American cultures during the summertime, and shifting between the two diverse cultures was a difficult task for her. This seemed to make her American Dream of becoming a writer grow increasingly difficult and distant. In due time, Benitez became an award-winning novelist and an inspiring bilingual motivational speaker who discusses how to overcome life’s obstacles and ensure happiness. I can relate to Sandra Benitez because I had to move and adapt to a new culture, while still striving for my American Dream to graduate from ASU as a nurse. Growing up, I was showered by the love of my mother, father, and baby sister. Our small family contained what every family desired: love, happiness, and unity. Together, my sister and I would hunt for treasure in the backyard, play secret agents, and when things got extremely serious, I would perform surgery on her with my toy instruments when we played “nurse.” We lived life optimistically and blissfully each day, and we were positive that it would only get better as the years progressed. I had my whole life mapped out; my American Dream consisted of two goals, which were to attend and graduate from ASU, and live my life as a nurse to help those in sickness or injury. Unfortunately, when I was nine years old, my parents went through a messy separation that changed my life forever. I recall the nights when my cheeks burned from the salt of my endless tears, and how scarlet my eyes were as I 117


My American Dream

awakened the next morning. Many of my true feelings were concealed because I felt I needed to be strong for both my sister and myself. I could not focus on anything except for how I would hopefully mend my broken family. Despite my thought-out tactics of trying to stop the terrible bickering between my parents, I was forced to relocate to the city of Apache Junction, Arizona with my mother and sister and to enroll at a new school. Along with the geographical changes, I had to mentally prepare myself for this new lifestyle. Compared to Mesa, Apache Junction differed immensely. I had never been exposed to racism in my entire life, and here it was almost a daily ritual. In class, I was one of the only Hispanics; I felt like I was the enemy inside my own classroom due to the mistreatment. Many days I did not want to go to school to avoid the frequently asked questions, overhearing obscene jokes, and getting selected last to play kickball. As the years passed, things became less targeted towards me and expanded towards the Hispanic community in general. Turmoil unraveled when the American flag was ignited by Hispanics one morning in 2006. High school had then become a warzone, with students wearing and embracing cultural flags as capes, usually leading to multiple, disturbing fights. The school was like a checkerboard with obvious segregation that made everyone feel extremely uncomfortable. I soon began to believe I was what some Caucasians said I’d amount to be: nothing. Up until this particular point in my life, I felt like I had failed both my sister and myself. There were things that I just simply could not fix. More than anything, I strived for acceptance and security at school and home. Going into high school is never an easy task for adolescents; however, I felt that I was alone in the process because I did not have many friends who understood the effects of racism, and the fact that I had no guidance or comfort from my mother. As she focused on her marriage, I concentrated on bettering my life and my sister’s life as well. I needed her to see that although life throws curveballs our way, we cannot strike out. At first we may need to take a bunting approach, then in due time we can hit a grand slam to achieve our goals. Freshman year was extremely tough, but I believed in hope and felt that a vast change for Apache Junction High School was soon underway. By my sophomore year, drastic action for AJHS was clearly required. The school board began to bring motivational speakers to address students about peace and acceptance. During this year, I was one of twelve students chosen to attend Anytown Camp in Prescott, Arizona. This camp focuses on diversity, love, acceptance, and peace. It was only a three day camp, but it taught me lifelong lessons I will never forget. I was moved to tears by how much this camp had opened my eyes. Eleven others and I felt it was our duty to share the teachings of this haven with the school and strive for change. With Anytown spreading like wildfire, it truly seemed like the school was healing; this motivated me to become involved in school even more. Within three years, I went from walking

118


My American Dream

around campus in fear to marching with pride for who I had become. I was the lead counselor for Anytown, an active member of National Honor Society, Varsity tennis player, and an honor roll student with reliable friends. I knew I was capable of anything, including once again grasping my American Dream. Since I was little, I attended numerous ASU sporting events. As I observed from the upper deck of Sun Devil Stadium, I fondly remember wanting to sit in sections 30-36, also known as the chaotic, golden student section. Based off those memories, I always knew I wanted to be a Sun Devil. In the fall of 2009, I was accepted to ASU and its nursing program at the Downtown Phoenix campus. My senior year I worked exceptionally hard to earn every scholarship possible, maintain my grades, be as involved as I could ever be, and have a social life. On the night of May 27, 2010, all my hard work had finally paid off. I sat in the front row of my graduating class and shared ten minutes in the spotlight with the others who were also in the top five percent for the class of 2010. We each recited an admired quote by someone famous. I quoted heavily respected Coach John Wooden, stating, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” I felt like this quote represented me because it affirms being true to yourself and still pushing onward. I had achieved all I could hope for in high school and I was rewarded with a guarantee of enrolling in ASU’s nursing program with the assistance of an academic scholarship. The American Dream is not only a vision, but it is also a story that conveys a moral message. Each person with a dream needs to solely strive to make this dream become real. The inner drive to achieve such a goal cannot be handed out; instead it is a never-ending perseverance that never ceases in a person. Now that I am a Sun Devil at ASU, the work finally begins. I am aware that I should be prepared for an intense work overload, countless sleepless nights, and an addiction to caffeine. In spite of these challenges, college is where I want to be. I want to receive an education at Arizona State University and become the first in my family to graduate from a university. Out of everyone in my huge family, nobody is more important to me than my sister, and I firmly believe that it is my duty to love her unconditionally, guide her, and lead by example for her. Those childhood “nurse” days when I wasted all the bandages for my sister’s “fatal wounds” will no longer be a childish pastime; it soon will evolve into a reality once I finally accomplish my American Dream.

119


My American Dream

References

Levine, E. (2004). About Sandra. Sandra Benitez. Retrieved September 9, 2010 from http://sandrabenitez.com/about.html Readers’ Advisory Retreat 2004. (2004). Retrieved September 9, 2010 from http://mnlibraryassociation.org/ Rodríguez-Gómez, R. (2007). Higher education decentralizes. Forum of Federations: The Global Network of Federalism. Retrieved September 9, 2010 from http://www.forumfed.org/en/products/magazine/vol6_num2/special_mexico.php

120


Profile for College of Integrative Sciences and Arts

Write On, Downtown issue 5, 2011  

A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus

Write On, Downtown issue 5, 2011  

A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus

Profile for writeon
Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded