My First Week With a Broken Big Toe

 

sunset at the beach; no sand in my toes

My big toe is broken, which means no morning runs and nightly walks, but this is only temporary. I spent the first night taking hydrocodone and talking to a nurse on the phone at 4am. I tried walking off the pain to get the blood flowing (the opposite of RICE — rest, ice, compression, elevation) and broke into a cold-sweat just a few houses down. I was able to sit it out, recover while I called Caleb (who didn’t answer), and then walk back home.

For those of you still wondering how this happened… Friday evening I was invited over to my neighbor’s house for s’mores and the kids invited me into the bounce house. I wasn’t in there over a minute before I came back out and iced and elevated my foot for three hours before stumbling home (not booze related). Caleb said we were going to the ER, so I used WebMD symptom checker first and it came up with turf toe (not a good diagnosis), so I agreed to go.

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more than hairline

I told the x-ray tech that it was probably a hairline fracture between the metatarsophalangeal joint (between foot and toe) and the interphalangeal joint (between mid and tip of my big toe on my left foot. He started with a full foot and we both saw the fracture immediately — from medial distal to lateral proximal, from joint to joint of my first proximal phalanx. I had done well when I landed on the side of my toe after being pulled down in the bounce house. He took two more x-rays and then it was back to the waiting room. 

Saturday we went shopping so that I could try the electric cart, but it wasn’t as fun as I had hoped. It is slow going forward and jerks to a stop unless you ease the handle. I made it past the squash before I was back up into my crutches. Again, shopping is the opposite of recovery for a broken toe, especially of the weight-bearing variety. So, while I rested Caleb went out and bought an assortment of ice packs. I’m grateful that our bed folds up on both ends — one to keep the swelling fluid out of my foot and the other to keep my sinuses drained while I continue to get over a cold.

img-20171017-wa00062115818518.jpegMonday I got a doctor’s note, after watching Sandlot and most of Monster House in the waiting room from 7 – 10am, for a handicap parking pass on campus and then went to their L – Bldg. in the afternoon with Caleb for the pink paper. It was stressful to think about all the parking and walking I would have to do, and how exhausted I might otherwise be if I wasn’t in the shape I was — balance in strength, endurance, and flexibility is important.

Tuesday was spent driving some of my classmates from City College to UCSD and back for some time in the EPARC lab (Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center). I wasn’t allowed on the equipment, but I’m welcome back when I don’t have a cast on. We were split into two groups of five and went through the protocol of a GXT (graded exercise test) on an ergometer (bike with external watt adjustment), saw how their Biodex System 4 measures isokinetic strength, and talked about the bone density that DEXA is capable of showing. We finished our time in the lab with me asking questions about a balance machine while everyone else turned in an assignment that was due (I would do this later) and then took the shortcut (stairs) to the car parked in the back and my classmates let me lead the way, which I thought was sweet at the time, but dangerous if I had fallen.

 

 

Wednesday is spent on campus from 9 am to 7 pm, which I thought would be a deal, but I spent more time in traffic than if I’d have left home at my usual time. I got to come in late for my Care & Prevention practical (assessing injury of the tendons and muscles surrounding the ankle) and got out early from Physiology. Classmates offer to carry my bag and others open the door; one while I was leaning against it. I attempt some one-legged spin in class, but the others start standing and so I move to a mat for elevated leg core moves and one-legged plank and push-ups. I do some stretches and then get back on the bike to finish with the class.

Yoga will be productive too with the instructor putting us into side-plank and floor-based poses with on-knees alternatives. She looked to see if I would do chair asana and I told her it would probably be easier to do eagle, which in hindsight makes no sense. Chair is squatting down and putting arms overhead (easy enough using the heel of my left foot) and eagle is wrapping one leg around the other, which I can’t stand on my left and with the boot on it won’t fit around my right.

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one-legged spin class

Thursday was my first day back with the little kids, grades transitional kindergarten to fifth, and they were all so curious – was it shattered, is the doctor going to use super glue, and when could I play with them again. Only one kid joked that he would kick it and I need to ask him why. I showed the kids my x-ray picture and tried to explain the importance of a knee-high boot vs just a high-top shoe. I think one kid wanted to play with my crutches.

I haven’t been handicap long, but I’ve noticed that not all doors are easily accessible, that San Diego has some rough and uneven sidewalks, that there’s always going to be one jerk in a large crowd, that the crosswalk light isn’t always long enough, and that handicap parking isn’t always the most convenient — nearest the ramp (uneven surface I could fall on) and farthest from the door (as the stairs are always closer). I need pockets or a bag at home to carry food or clothes and have to sit to dress when I used to pride myself on being able to balance while doing so.

shopping

I’m grateful to the kind, patient, and understanding people who I’ve encountered on my six-day journey, especially the ones who have given me chocolate. I’ve got many more weeks of this ahead and Caleb is stuck between making me stay in bed and leaving the hose down in the tub so I can take a shower before I cook, clean, and go to school. It used to take me 10 minutes to get ready and now can take 75 minutes of hobbling around. I didn’t realize how grateful I was for that time, but it’s another thing I’m learning and taking into consideration about my perspective in life.

I’m grateful that Caleb allows me to be stubborn and maintain a sense of freedom, but also thoroughly happy when he cooks me dinner and delivers it, feeds the dogs and lets them out, washes the dishes and puts them away, makes me do homework and brings me snacks, helps adjust the bed and swaps out my ice packs. He is willing to hop up to do the slightest thing, so that I may recover quickly and less painfully than he has had to deal with after having knee and neck surgery with constant back pain.

I have an appointment with a orthopedist on Tuesday to see if I need surgery.

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The Coming of the Third Reconstruction

Reconstruction political leaders

The Reconstruction Era, from 1865 to 1877, laid the foundations through political, economical, and societal struggles of what our society still contends with today. History comes with positive and negative aspects despite the perspective of the viewer and here is a brief look at some of the factors that had the most effect then and how our society is dealing with these issues in the present. The Constitution was written in the United States and used as a blueprint in other countries who shared our democratic government ideals1, but it was written over 200 years ago and has made amendments since.

The 14th Amendment in Section One gave citizenship to all persons born or naturalized and secured their rights to life, liberty, property, and due process. Section Two ensured that all males over 21 years of age, minus non-taxed Indians and rebellious criminals, were accounted for when determining the number of state representatives, giving states the choice to let negroes vote or lose seats in Congress2. This amendment would go on to aid the Supreme Court in decisions of racial segregation (Brown v. Board, 1954), abortion (Roe v. Wade, 1973), a presidential election (Bush v. Gore, 2000), and regarding same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015)3. 

The 14th Amendment is currently being debated for revision to its citizenship clause as people argue that this modification will improve the illegal immigrant situation in the States by denying their children citizenship4. In a debate, it’s important to hear from all sides of the argument. This is what makes the 15th Amendment so important as it gave the negro man a legal voice in the voting process prohibiting state and federal governments from denying this right.It was the opposition to this viewpoint, by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, that would cause Congress to pass the three Enforcement Acts within a twelve-month period allowing the militia to stop violent activities, deemed federal offenses, that stopped negroes from voting, holding office, serving on juries, and receiving equal protection from the law.6

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After these amendments were passed to overcome the Black Codes, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 passed that outlawed discrimination in hotels and theaters, the South was busy quickly making changes that would bypass these constitutional laws at the state level without attracting the attention of Congress while upholding their “southern way of life”. These laws would put an end to the Black Codes, but the Jim Crow Laws would spring up in their place ensuring separation, but ‘equality’ everywhere. Schools, toilets, restaurants, railcars, and playing fields had to be separated by different doors and not within a certain distance of each other — this way the races wouldn’t mix for marriage or equal rights.7

The Grandfather Clause, a way to exempt poor and illiterate whites from the same disenfranchisement of the negroes, along with the Jim Crow Laws, helped to strengthen the position of the Southern whites and the Midwest republicans by charging poll taxes, giving literacy tests, or demanding proof of ownership of property. The Grandfather Clause was found unconstitutional in 1915, in the case of Guinn v. United States, but sadly the Jim Crow Laws would be supported until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed all discriminatory legislation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was able to get a majority of negroes registered to vote in the South.8

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965 as a temporary measure to ensure that states with restrictions to voting, such as the Jim Crow Laws, and less than 50% of the eligible voters registered prior to November of 1964 would have to check-in with the Attorney General or District Court of DC before making changes to their election practices. This included seven states entirely and parts of four others. Section 5 will go on to be amended in 1970 to add electoral participation, in 1975 to include language minority groups that constituted more than 5% of the voting age, and in 1982 to terminate coverage under a bailout. This procedure gives the jurisdiction ten years to make improvements for minorities to vote and then the opportunity to ask the federal trial court to be released from this measure.12 Step-by-step, the federal government is bringing the States out of the first and second Reconstruction Eras and into the improvements of the present. America has seen the introduction and the body of the racist story; let’s hope for a conclusion soon.

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In 2006, Congress extended the circumstances of Section 5 for 25 more years while nine states were fully covered and seven partially effected, but the Supreme Court deemed the formula insufficient in 2013 leaving states uncovered until a replacement is passed. This ruling allows states to require photo ID, which is necessary to prevent fraud, and make changes to early voting and same-day registration. Oregon and Florida removed themselves from the Interstate Cross-Check Program, also an attempt to prevent fraud, and 20 states made online voting available.12 It is great progress when an old law is no longer needed to strictly enforce rights so easily given to others based on something as superficial as skin color, though these changes are not always timely.

The “Jim Crow Laws might produce some laughter in the twenty-first century but…”7 they shouldn’t because no one should be proud of formulating laws in such a manner as to make another human suffer for such an unneeded period of time, causing them to work so hard for such slow and painful change. It’s sad to see that President Johnson gave the States their racial rights back2 and the freedom to take their time with the segregation process. Tourgée, an idealist carpetbagger turned judge, argues in a letter to the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1867 that, “No law… can shield the poor man… bloodshed must necessarily follow.”9 And that’s exactly what happened as President Hayes gave the Democrats control of the South for a taste of the Oval Office without dispute.

I would like to think that circumstances are different today, but I can see the practices that lead Negroes to believe that Black Lives don’t Matter still being fought for fairness — and it’s a fight on both sides of the black and white coin. The Freedmen’s Bureau was able to supply medical aid to more than a million people including the elderly, children, and disabled. Congress funded this progress for five years before shutting down the “black handout”.10 People are still wary today of government assistance and welfare to those they deem undeserving, such is the ongoing debate that is Obamacare.

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The Redeemers reduced the negro influence in the southern government and established white-supremacist regimes by defunding schools, closing hospitals, and reducing taxes for the wealthy, the plantation owning “the one percent” of the day.10 The modern one percent have the same tax breaks today and don’t require government assistance for education, medical, meals, or security because they can afford it, while at least 46 million people struggle to learn on an empty stomach in a crime-ridden area while relying on the government for food stamps, Section 8 housing, and welfare.10 

Negroes wanted to learn the ways of the white man, but were told no for a hundred years while being abandoned by the North and beaten by the South. They were given another opportunity for work on the “Big Government Plantation,”10 or the option to join their brothers in the judicial system of the American Dream. The South was stuck in the 19th century tainted by a lack of business interest, immigrant investment, and a reliable government. Their liberties were reduced then and their opportunities squandered now in inferior schools, cultural beliefs, prison gerrymandering, and black mobs.10

Now there is the “acting white” mentality that pervades negro schools and neighborhoods. Researchers have found that students will get bad grades, or lie about good grades, and avoid museums and other educational opportunities where they have the chance to be seen by peers and family who may cut them off from their communities for going against the cultural ‘norm’11 — even though there are great stories of their ancestors and achievers today, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, showing their race as beautiful and intelligent through learning and love, not ignorance. It’s not helpful when the children of doctors and lawyers want to turn out like the rappers and athletes they see on the news with a negative image. This wasn’t always the case, as freedmen strived to be more like the white man — in church, school, cafes, and jobs — regardless of the religion, education, food, or vocation.

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Is this the fault of white supremacist history rewriting the literature to show complete dominance, the old movies showing the South as a dreamy romantic bayou, or a personal agenda to maintain a status the whites felt was gifted to them by God? The literate masters used books, especially the Bible, to push their agenda — negroes weren’t human, they shouldn’t mix with whites, and they were too ignorant to be left alone.9 How were the fearful illiterate supposed to combat these prejudices without education, weapons, or land? They were told to work hard to earn God’s graces — and that’s what they did. Productivity has increased by 80% since 1979, but income for the working class has not.10

How many ex-slaves believed the laws of the white man and the opinion of God? How many accepted the unequal conditions as an improvement and dismissed the civil rights bills as impractical?9 How many hours did they need to learn, how many good deeds done, and how many dollars earned to not be able to afford the comforts of the white man? How many generations need to know the struggle and the pain that their ancestors and their grandchildren will face begging to be accepted as more than a second-class citizen? How many people must die in order for change to take place?

The Reconstruction Era was a very progressive and educational time — seen from the positive perspective. It showed the power of ambition and the amount of change a group could make when given the chance. It continues to impact current issues with laws made for equality then, changing and amending them. The courts continue to adjust laws and acts, such as section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as they adapt to a new cultural mindset. Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of not being judged by skin color but by character content can one day be so true as to deem these laws and the past they contain a stain on human history as we look back from our great pedestal of the future and all its equality.

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The Reconstruction Era seemed to give and take away rights over night with constant injustices. History, with such close ties to the present, is motivation to be educated, think critically, and always be kind; and to not let the words of one person or book entice hasty judgements. Will the second quarter of the 21st century be the beginning of the third Reconstruction? Some may say there are no equality issues or that, “… We are rushing this issue of civil rights,” but Hubert Humphrey, a Democratic mayor from Minneapolis, said to the Democratic National Convention in 1948 that, “we are 172 years late.”

*All images courtesy of Google.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Blaustein, Albert P. “Long Live the New Iraq!” Long Live the New Iraq! The Coalition Provisional Authority, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017. <http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/cpa-iraq/ democracy/blaustein.html>.

2. “Constitution Annotated.” Congress.gov. Government Publishing Office, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017. <https://www.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/&gt;.

3. Staff, LII. “14th Amendment.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2017. <https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/ amendmentxiv>.

4. Kahn, Carrie. “Republicans Push To Revise 14th Amendment.” NPR. NPR, 05 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2017. <storyId=129007120>.

5. Foner, Eric. “15/What Is Freedom?” Give Me Liberty!: An American History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. 442-73. Print.

6. Swinney, Everette. “Enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment, 1870-1877.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 28, no. 2, 1962, pp. 202–218., www.jstor.org/stable/2205188.

7. Tischauser, Leslie Vincent. “Introduction.”  Jim Crow Laws. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2012. xi-xv. Print.

8. Michael J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Economic Equality (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)

9. Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “Did Reconstruction Fail as a Result of Racism?” Taking Sides: Clashing Views in United States History. 14th ed. Vol. 2. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014. 35-55. Print.

10. Blake, John. “Parallels to Country’s Racist past Haunt Age of Obama.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 11 Mar. 2017. <http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/11/us/obama- trump-white-backlash/>.

11. Mydans, Seth. “Black Identity vs. Success and Seeming ‘White’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Apr. 1990. Web. 11 Mar. 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/ 1990/04/25/us/education-black-identity-vs-success-and-seeming-white.html>.

12. Staff. “About Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act.” The United States Department of Justice. N.p., 8 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2017. <https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-section-5- voting-rights- act>.

Posted in Books, Education, Government, History, Media, People | Leave a comment

America as an Empire

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace,” said Jimi Hendrix, an influential rock guitarist, in the mid-twentieth century.5 The world is far from realizing this utopia as children still fight over owner ship of toys as men have fought for centuries over land, religion, science, fear, racism, and women. Popular adjectives for man are: powerful, strong, educated, healthy, and rich. A man needs to be in charge of his domain — to include his home, church, office, country, and everything in between (farms, roads, and rivers) and within reach (the next mountain, the new frontier, and the closest islands). Man is a proud creature and has proven repeatedly through bloody wars and conquering efforts that he will fight for what he believes is right or his, regardless of the outcome, especially when using other people as his pawns.

Pythagoras, known for his theorem and the start of philosophy, said in 500BC, “Power is the near neighbour of necessity.”6 If humans were able to separate themselves from the animal kingdom by not fighting over territory, something our government makes us pay to live on, the world would have one less dangerous aspect. Living on free, unmarked and unregulated, land was seen as barbaric and something to abolish.4 Now it’s frowned upon and charged for so that all activities may be regulated — houses, cars, and jobs taxed while walking and sleeping can acquire fines depending on their location. Humans used to share their existence — farming, hunting, and wives, but over time have felt the need to distinguish between ownership, and seem to be slowly going back to sharing the burdens of existence with co-ops and community gardens. Above are the underlying reasonings behind the leaders of history trying to dominate the world, some more than others.

The following is a discussion of man’s excuses to conquer another people, push them from their land, or dominate them in their own territory for the benefit of religion, business, beliefs, and fear of the unknown. President McKinley wasn’t the first, and definitely not the last president to justify his actions with the words of the Bible and the sharp edge of a sword. His tactics were unChristian to the extent that I understand the Word and the ways it has been interpreted to me — love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)7, but only if he’s white. It’s also not fair to “civilize” someone and then deny them the rights to read or vote.

As Larry Madaras, author of Taking Sides, stated, “the acquisition of California and the subsequent  discovery of gold there spurred interest” in finding faster ways to connect the government of the East coast with the wealth of the West coast, and acquiring more places to stop for refueling and repairs along naval trade routes to grow American businesses and sell the plethora of industrialized products to a larger market.4 I agree with free trade (definition: international trade left to its natural course without tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions)8, but not with forcing another nation to open its borders or change its beliefs in order to accomplish it. Similarly, as if a vacuüm cleaner salesman was to come to my door I’m not going to let him in to kill my son and teach my daughter a new religion.

Racism has played a large role in the public and private sectors throughout history and did not disappoint as the United States strove to win the race to be next leading empire. Walter LaFeber, author of Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, agrees that the racial attitudes of the nineteenth-century “considered all races other than white to be inferior,” which made it easier for people like William Walker, American soldier turned Nicaraguan president, to attempt “to impose Anglo-Saxon values on the unwilling.” This feeling of power was instilled in ‘white males’ since their proclamation of personal freedom in the Declaration of Independence.4

I believe in the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” but only so far as being fair will allow. Life is full of competition and it keeps nature and economics healthy, but demoralizing and killing other humans deemed inferior due to skin color is heartless. The legacies of fighting Indians for the frontier and Blacks over slavery were even carried over to other Europeans that had different cultural beliefs.4 These standards are still prevalent today as citizens agree to ban Muslims on planes and to build a longer, taller, and wider wall to keep out Mexicans, as if their country is the only one that can have a corrupt government and unfair policies towards ownership, religion, and personal pursuits — sexual, educational, or recreational.

The United States invested “a highly disproportionate amount” of time, money, and military into the five Central American nations, a region that covers “only a little more than one-hundredth of the Western Hemisphere’s land area.”4 I applaud their effort that every little piece and person counts and helps to make up the whole of the planet, but America was more interested in the amount of profits they saw in the new wealth-based soil frontier that was Central America — Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras; and the Caribbean — Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, and keeping out the British, Germans, and Soviets. Most of the invested millions in 15 years, about $93 million by the eve of WWI, went towards plantations of bananas, sugar, coffee, and tobacco, and the railroads to transport it all.4

sugar plantation in Cuba

America’s goal in gaining the Caribbean and the Philippines was to have better access for “economic penetration” into China and have a large new market of buyers. This goal was worth the investment and loans given to Latin American countries, repeatedly, even after their government defaulted on payments and used the funds for other purposes until “the whole process of contracting such debts became a vicious game without rules,” claimed David Healy4. America went south, in Nicaragua for 21 years, to ensure foreigner’s debts were repaid, giving those other countries no reason to tread on the States’ property, but increasingly had to agree on only a fraction of the loan to be repaid.4 I understand how this would lead to another world war as nations are going broke and their citizens hungry and dying of disease while they fight battles for their leaders that are overseas. The war in the Middle East is still an issue today as America battles with the growing debt now in the teen-trillions10.

W. T. Stead, newspaper editor, predicted that America would “emerge as the greatest of world-powers” through their “pursuit of wealth.”3 Such is the case now, where America chooses how much to pay for oil, bananas, and coffee; much like the government chose to do with the crops of Central America. The United States chose cash crops to take up land the locals could’ve used to feed themselves.4 This also relates to corn and grain farms today — valuable land that should be used to grow food for human consumption is grown and given to cows to feed those more wealthy or dependent on the government for food allotment when more people would benefit from fruits and vegetables instead11. It’s terrible how greed can make people treat each other with disdain for the color of their skin, deeming them unworthy of a meal and leading to “malnutrition, even starvation,”4 while the rich prosper from the land of the poor.

Control of the market and food deprivation are ways to maintain power as is passing laws making the actions legal or making amendments to bills already passed that approve of the behavior. Roosevelt did this with his Corollary of the Monroe Doctrine, a warning to European nations that an attempt to colonize the Americas further would be met with aggressive interposition, but not “for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny.” President Monroe hoped “to leave the parties to themselves, in hope that other powers will pursue the same course,”9 so it’s easy to understand while under the fear of another world power intervening, the United States would force the islands into a state of dependency under military control.

The “principles that made the United States the globe’s greatest power: … a fear of foreign influence, and a dread of revolutionary instability” were the opposite tactics they used in Central America as a way to maintain power — fueling revolutions to bring about change, at least in the short-term of keeping citizens focused on the upheaval of their lifestyle while the leaders formulate methods to bring about more longterm stability with an outside control from a foreign power.4 It was also for these reasons “to ensure investments, secure the canal, act as a ‘natural protector’” that Roosevelt felt it was necessary to preserve the position of world police4, to keep order in a place with so much of America invested.

The United States believes that just as “England and France and Germany have stood”4 that they too will have their time as the leader of power, especially as they lead the way in the industrial enterprise that continues to grow in the world. This power comes with the obligation to sustain control and to “have the right to knock their heads together until they should maintain peace between them,” as President Taft believed was necessary between the governments of Central America.4 The United States was a country built on the dreams of freedom from government, religion, and persecution, but that was worth fighting bloody battles for and instilling those beliefs on others as “The first taste of power is always the sweetest”4 and the young nation wasn’t ready to let go of what they felt was in their grasp.

The United States has influenced other countries through the Declaration of Independence and grass-roots movements towards equality of race, sex, and gender. America has lead the way in new technology, science discoveries, and military presence which helped them maintain power in the past, but I question how it will work moving forward as other countries lead in children’s education, green technologies, and equality among genders. What aspects of society are the most important to focus on to keep citizens motivated to defend it? America’s answer is fear of the unknown, hate of the other, and a belief that anything or anyone not like us is wrong and bad and should be done away with. That is not a way of life I want to defend. I believe Americans have a lot of false freedoms, negative ideologies, and an ignorance of the world around them.

The governing people use their followers’ lack of knowledge, and the fears previously instilled through history and stories shared around the campfire, to inspire a sense of American pride and nationalism to keep a herd mentality alive. In moments of despair new rituals are introduced. In 1893, it was the Pledge of Allegiance and standing for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”2 In 2001, it was the sight of the flag on every home, car, and person, and the start of TSA and phone tapping for the sake of the nation’s security. The United States even went as far as to spy on other nations, ones that are supposed to be their friends and allies — not how I treat my friends or believe they should be.

Humans are big on acting on their beliefs from fear, religion, and media. Josiah Strong, a published minister, believed that all social problems could be solved with God because whites were superior, Christians the only rightful missionaries, and the Anglo-Saxons were to wipe out or assimilate their inferiors for a worldwide game of survival of the fittest.1 Americans still assume this role today, of going to countries deemed less fortunate and trying to supply them with water or birth control or free enterprise. Some of these goals are honorary, but others are pointless when juxtaposed with the other countries religion, government, and historical beliefs. Those who want to change are told they can’t because women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia and men can’t be gay in Russia and those who don’t want to change are forced out of their businesses in Africa or into the streets in India.

Critics believed that, “some races were destined to dominate over others”1 making it easier for the American public to believe in the inferiority of non-white people who were “ignorant, lazy, backward” and obviously in need of a Christ intervention to save them from “dreaming the years away.”4 These colored people were ‘incapable of self-government and economic development’ so America went in to improve these countries in such decay by pushing them onto reservations, forcing their sons into battle, and making them second class citizens. Europeans saw non-whites as obstructing the possibilities for whites to improving their society with the raw materials and agricultural production available to the barbarians of the world if they would act more civilized. Today, Marines are taught about the extremists of the Middle East and not the Muslim’s inshallah, God-willing, lifestyle before they are sent into battle against a religion they know nothing about.12 No one goes above God.

Except maybe a religious extremist group that chooses to walk beside their faith and reinterpret it dramatically to fit their own outlook. This process happens naturally, but what doesn’t help is when one group begins to assume that all people of the same skin tone, dress type, or religious scripture follow those same beliefs. These accusations can lead to violence and misunderstanding as people are kicked off planes and tackled outside of hospitals. These beliefs can cause unnecessary laws to be passed, even if temporary, and can destroy future business relations or children’s outlooks on their future as they are raised in hate, but can’t understand why.

The United States, though consisting of millions of people, sometimes has the personality of a macho man trying to prove his masculinity. America pretends to sit on the sidelines for only so long before giving all its resources towards a battle so that it can claim the all-powerful trophy. This behavior is seen in the treatment of the Caribbean, the Philippines, and WWI and II. We supply the enemy with weapons to defend themselves in their revolutions and when it’s not working at the American pace or in a way seen fit to civilized standards, America steps in to clear the battlefield to maintain hegemony of the Western Hemisphere and the globe which may seem useless and expensive to some, but which is just the almighty dollar diplomacy at work.

Assumptions make navies grow to stay alert, prep for war, and retain a presence where a threat is felt. This fear causes people to be on edge, to be judgmental, and to act out of accordance of the law and their religious beliefs. These are problems that only an empire should have — Ottoman, Russian, and British as they unjustly command a people they know nothing about from a land far away without any representation in government dealings. A democracy, which America sits on the edge of, shouldn’t be the parent setting the children straight with violence, but the parent of peaceful protests setting the example for how a fair government should deal with its citizens.

America jumps in to benefit itself, develop other countries, and to scare off foreign powers, but what about the immigrants living in the United States that feel threatened by the countries leaders and their beliefs? If America isn’t leading the way on bombing children and withholding funds till its goals are achieved which country will take its place to do the “practical, right, legally justified, and even necessary” things to keep the economy of the world in trillions of debt while its own people starve? Who will want to take on that burden of responsibility or will China or Germany focus on a different set of beliefs? Fears are meant to keep you safe, but ignorance is more dangerous than any falsehood.

*all images courtesy of Google

1. Foner, Eric. “17.” Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. 66-72. Print.

2. Foner, Eric. “17.” Give Me Liberty!: An American History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. 529-42. Print.

3. Foner, Eric. “19.” Give Me Liberty!: An American History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. 575-80. Print.

4. Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “Issue 7.” Taking Sides: Clashing Views in United States History. 12th ed. Vol. 2. Boston: McGraw-Hill Education Create, 2017. 157-80. Print.

5. “Jimi Hendrix.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 06 May 2017. <http:// http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/jimi-hendrix-jimi-hendrix-biography/2743/>.

6. Harbottle, Thomas Benfield. Dictionary of Quotations (classical), with Author and Subject Indexes. 3rd ed. N.p.: Swan Sonnenschein; Macmillan, 1906. 356. Print.

7. “Mark 12:31.” The Bible: King James Version. Glasgow: Collins, 2008. N. pag. Print.

8. Abate, Frank, and Elizabeth J. Jewell. “F.” The New Oxford American Dictionary. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. N. pag. Print.

9. Monroe, James. “Monroe Doctrine.” Welcome to OurDocuments.gov. Avalon Project at Yale Law School, n.d. Web. 06 May 2017.

10. Hubbard, Ben, and Michael R. Gordon. “U.S. War Footprint Grows in Middle East, With No Endgame in Sight.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.

11. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). 2013. Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050. Issue Paper 53. CAST, Ames, Iowa.

12. Fuentes, Gidget. “UPDATED: Marines with 11th MEU Join the Ground Fight in Syria.” USNI News. U.S. Naval Institute, 09 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.

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Sociological Homework

SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON SOCIETY

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Jane Elliott

As seen in “Eye of the Storm,” it only takes one person with a dominant character to control a room of people. Jane Elliott goes on to prove her theory, using Hitler’s methods, from third graders in California to college students in New York to working adults in Britain, of segregation. This same process is still seen in schools today and is identified as bullying; kids who lash out at other students and even their teachers. The teachers can have this prejudice too against students who are slower to learn due to dyslexia, color blindness, or autism.

These disadvantaged students do not see themselves represented in media or toys they may play with. There is not a number of them to stand up for their rights in each classroom. It’s usually 1 for every 30 students that will struggle for a reason beyond financial, relational, or personal control. The student might want to learn, but the parent isn’t educated enough or is too distracted working to support their other kids to pay attention. The teacher doesn’t appreciate the distraction that child brings to the classroom and the time they take away from other students. The children without these learning disadvantages see that it is ok to single these kids out and harass them.

The reality for these slow learners is that they are not as important to their families, peers, teachers, and the media — four out of five agents of socialization. This is a sad realization for these young people and it will go on to influence everything they do in their daily lives. They will feel less important, less needed, and less intelligent. Their families will fight more over the time, finances, and behaviors of the individual. Their peers will tease them and leave them to sit in the corner in class and alone in the lunch room.

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The teachers will get flustered because they don’t know how to handle the situation, the lack of education in society about it, and the lack of staff to help give that student a chance to learn and thrive at their ability level. Cartoons aimed at children don’t show kids like them, so they must not be normal. Other animals in nature prey on the weak, so they must be like a broken zebra in a field of lions — and that’s what it feels like to them. This is their reality as they have come to know it based on the consequences put upon them externally leading to internal conflict.

Learning disabilities are not the fault of their owner. These students are human and they want their basic needs to be met too. They want to feel warm, safe, and capable — of completing the paragraph to read aloud, to color by numbers correctly, and to make it through lunch without a disturbance that further plays on their anti-social behavior. Not everyone on the autism spectrum is a savant and not every other student in the class will grow up to be astronauts and doctors, but the competition is there — it need be more equal.

By more equal I mean, it shouldn’t be the colorblind against those with glasses or 20/20 vision competing for a job as an electrician, but the person more able to do the job correctly. Society has made it easier on those unable to see or hear as clear as others by providing glasses and hearing aids, but what about those students who can’t differentiate between colors. They are not even given the chance to compete because they, and those around them, know they will lose. This is an unfair advantage, but perhaps that provides the power differential necessary to maintain competition in the education and work force realms.

bully

People might like to think that they work better as individuals, and that might have some truth to it, but it has been proven how well we can use that individualism together to achieve greatness — the idea, the builder, the moderator, the inspector — of planes, skyscrapers, and cell phones. These students shouldn’t be singled out for a disability beyond their control, only for their lack of trying in any individual’s case. People like to help those that see them helping themselves. People in power, the students without learning disabilities, shouldn’t have to put other children in a lower social position in order to achieve their goals. The teachers shouldn’t allow this behavior to happen as it lowers the self-esteem of those picked on and the morale of the class by leaving the shy kids as a quiet witness to these brutalities.

Everyone struggles with issues — personal flaws, public persona, financial obligations, family issues, and finding themselves — whatever that means to them. Jane Elliott should be more of an influence in classes everywhere along with another good film, based on real life, called “Freedom Writers” which is about the methods used to stop the pain of segregation. The teacher had the students write to Miep Gies, the woman who saved Anne Frank from the Hitler regime, and she flew from Amsterdam to visit their class in Long Beach, California.

It might be easier to judge someone based on the color of their skin rather than the less obvious internal differences, but that doesn’t make either acceptable. From a functionalist point of view, these students serve as motivation for classrooms and society. Don’t be the student who can’t read quickly, color correctly, or go to sleep at night without banging their head on the wall. Don’t be the student that can’t get certain jobs when the problem to add shape recognition to the colors is easily fixable; or the student who can’t coordinate their business attire for the office, and accept that they may only work in black-and-white fashion industries.

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These seemingly unforeseen inabilities can also pose a health risk to those that suffer and those around them. Only by knowing which light, red or green, goes on top or to the left of a traffic light can someone who is colorblind tell the difference at an intersection. Someone with dyslexia is likely to say the number wrong, but type it correctly, or vice versa which affects them in class, at work, and on vacation. These people don’t need the added stigma to this ordeal.

Someone with autism might be sweet in the classroom, but a teacher’s nightmare on the playground. They can be nice during lunch, but hold food in their cheeks at dinner posing a choking hazard and a lack of eating. These situations can be difficult, and not something just anyone is capable of dealing with. Some autistic kids don’t portray this behavior, but society needs to get rid of the stigma and replace it with understanding.

This system stabilizes society right now, giving people without these issues something negative outside themselves to focus on. This builds the non-issue people’s self-esteem and maintains a balance in society so that people can continue to feel an unneeded struggle and feel right about the position in life that they live. People may feel that they have earned this situation or that they don’t deserve these difficulties. This puts more strain on an issue that if worked on together could have less of a negative impact, so people are free to focus on more purposeful things in their lives.

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People feel this system works, but having states opt out of the No Child Left Behind act because the schools, teachers, parents, and community can’t keep up with the demands that advancements in evolution and technology demand of us is not a working system. It is dysfunctional and gives purpose to those who struggle to change the way things work. They fight in the political system, they fight for civil rights, and they fight for a better tomorrow. A day that will bring a bit of change and a bit more sunshine into the dim looking futures of those that are bullied for seeming to appear less worthy in the eyes of society.

A famous quote by Bert Lance, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this instance, if it serves a function and society is continuing on, then people shouldn’t interfere with the process. Lance also states, “… The trouble with government:…not fixing things that are broken.”  C. Wright Mills argues that as a social product, the human mind might be deteriorating in quality and culture. Some might argue his tumultuous lifestyle conflicted with his theory. Society thrives on conflict to drive motivation and innovation. This means that giving these kids a chance could lead to more positive social interaction and change.

“We don’t need a melting pot…We need a salad bowl…You want the vegetables…to                             maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.” – Jane Elliott

*all images collected from Google

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Volcanoes and Rain

King Kamahameha

King Kamehameha statue

Caleb got up before my alarm and we were both in the kitchen when ours rang together. I cut up the two abui from yesterday into quarters and the edges are quick to brown. The inside is as soft as ripe persimmon and tastes like mushy honeydew to Caleb and a flan-like dessert to me – easy to scoop too. We shared a plate and I grabbed two spoons. I tried eating the waxy peel, but it will go into the trash bin along with the grape-sized seed. I washed our dishes while Caleb packed us up and we dropped the bag to the car before walking into Bear’s Cafe for more food.

Caleb ordered waffles and sausage. I ordered biscuits and gravy with eggs and reminded him that we had four hours of spelunking ahead – we’re going to need the calories. I got half of my cold brew coffee to-go so we could leave by 8am. This would get us from Hilo to middle-of-nowhere just in time, 8:45. On the way, we managed to pass the third King Kamehameha statue dedicated in 1997. The original was thought to be lost at sea in 1880 and a replacement was erected in Honolulu. When the original was found in 1912 it was put up in Kapaau, near the King’s birthplace, also on Big Island.

through the cave

through the cave

We got gas at $2.75 before leaving town, stopped at the ATM some miles from the house, before the roads went from paved and lined with trees to pitted and lined with shorter plants too. We parked behind the two cars in the driveway. There is another couple, Marshall and Allison from Salem, Oregon, standing there as Harry, our cave guide, walks up. We grab hard hat, gloves, and flashlight before making our way through the trees, but not before going over the rules – don’t touch anything!

We’re reminded that we may bring water, a small bag (so it doesn’t touch anything), and our long sleeves/pants with good shoes on are approved. I get to use a flush toilet outhouse, complete with crescent moon and full acoustics, before we descend. Harry unlocks the door and stepping inside I realized this was no ordinary lava tube – this was Kazamura Cave. I could’ve read reviews before coming, or have checked their website, but that would’ve ruined the surprise. We will use a few ladders and one rope to assist in navigation of this beautiful, dark, wet tunnel cut through the earth.

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up and up

Harry is knowledgeable, not just about this cave, but Mammoth and Carlsbad (that we’ve been to) and about a hundred that we haven’t. He asked what we do and the employed, engineer and lawyers, made the top ten list of common guests; others were doctors, biologists, and programmers. I enjoy small tour groups so much, max of six allowed, because of the amount of time and details shared. We helped each other see different holes, shapes, and bones. There are roots, other biological matter, and anomalies of 1800*C elements cooling at impressive speeds and leaving their history for us to admire.

We saw a mile of the cave and about 500 feet of height explored. I found the total darkness unnerving and then very relaxing as we all stood there listening to the cave rain and I spun around unable to see myself but I could feel the wind movement. Turning on our flashlights again after at least five minutes of complete blackness hitting the corneas was an adjustment period. The walk back seemed too soon, but the girls had started asking about food. Harry explained other things to see/do and why and then gave some restaurant recommendations.

Kīlueae Caldera

Kīlauea Caldera

I let the others head back quickly after we see sunlight again so I can focus on the details. I enjoyed the torch tour, less light damage in the cave, but it limited my photo opportunities. I watched the rain drop on the leaves, photographed the colors through the trees, and captured (digitally) one gecko before he ran for cover. It felt good to get the wet gloves off that I used to protect my camera from cave droplets. I tried scraping some of the mud off my shoes from the path that tried to get me to stay – it wouldn’t be hard.

I started popping macaroons in my mouth as we backed away. We were hungry, but couldn’t let a silly restaurant stand between us and lava, so on we went to Volcanoes National Park through the varying stages of rain on the road. We stopped at the steam vents and a Chinese guide was using hand signals for my benefit. Then he lit a napkin on fire and stuck it over the vent to draw more smoke out – “monkey see, monkey do” he said. As we walked to get a better look at the caldera we passed people, some wearing booty shorts and others coats, as the weather was 15*C. From there it’s 1.5 miles to the Jaggar Museum and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the Uwekahuna Bluff on the rim of Kīlauea Caldera.

basalt landscape

basalt landscape

We stared into the caldera in the distance – to gauge, a ranger told us lava was shooting up 30ft and we could see blasts of orange among the, barely visible with the naked eye, pool. A family was there and had brought binoculars – what a difference. I used zoom on my camera and Caleb used the GoPro. The hole is massive and one woman claimed to feel the heat from it. Someone told her to back off the wacky tabacky – we had to be a mile away.

We stopped or hung out the window intermittently when seeing dried lava flows from the 80s, growth on the rocks, and the sky beyond. The drive down Chain of Craters road towards the water was fantastic and the car behind didn’t seem to mind our tourist mode – slow. We parked at the end of the road. To get to the third volcano, located underwater, on the park you have to walk five miles one-way with snacks, water, and a flashlight. Sadly we had none. A kid was trying to convince his mom that they could make it if they ran.

walking to the

walking to the petroglyphs

Within walking distance is Hōlei Sea Arch, named after the native Ochrosia compta plant that is part of the milkweed family. Just over some dried lava and bright green plants to an edge protected by stacked black rocks and some copper cable between wooden posts, to a frothy sea below lit by the bright sun, stands an arch carved a few hundred years ago into the basalt cliffs standing at 90ft.

We pass the ranger playing ukulele and drive to the Pu’u Loa petroglyph trail, 0.7 mile one-way walking. There are cairns to guide us and a boardwalk to protect the kapu (keep out/sacred) where families come to leave the piko (umbilical cord) of their child in the large hill to connect their spirit to the ancestors and give them a long life. There are over 16,000 pukas (holes), some shallow, some deep, but all unique to the family they bond.

feet, shadows, petroglyphs - GoPro

feet, shadows, petroglyphs – GoPro

The weather is perfect and the sunset phenomenal as we leave the park and make it to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. There are dirty ducks, cross-eyed cats, and kids practicing their ninja gymnastics barefoot. There are also eight Green Sea turtles, either sleeping or moving extremely slow, in their protected rock circle. We enjoy the sound of the waves, the feel of the gravelly sand, and the colorful clouds streaming across the sky.

It’s finally time to eat and we stop at the next place on our left – Hana Hou, meaning “encore”, and it’s the southernmost restaurant in the U.S. They sell pork burritos and chicken salad in papaya. I grabbed a lilikou bar and caramel brownie for back up rations. This meal will give us the energy needed to drive the next hour of winding roads to our stop for the night – Pineapple Park. It’s calm and quiet when we arrive at 7:30. We do some exploring and I was hoping for a social evening, but the crowd doesn’t arrive till Friday from Australia.

pond at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

pond at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

I grab my phone to use the light. I want to find the source of the sound in the tree – the tiny Coqui frog. I’m checking the branches and leaves. Our hostess assures we won’t find them as they’re as tiny as dimes or the tip of this woman’s finger, similar to Caroline’s pinky, whichever is smaller. I think knowing what I’m looking for will make it easier, but the light only helps to quiet the tiny creatures. It’s time for a shower.

Caleb’s not ready for bed at 8:30 so we walk to the market across the street so he can get a six-pack of Castaway and I can grab a pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream. He reads while I think about the stories of Columbus, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Gold Rush, and how Hawaii has a very different and unique history. Caleb has two beers and I don’t start reading till I finish what’s left of the melted banana ice cream in the bottom of my pint – the flavor name is fitting.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach - GoPro

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach – GoPro

We will sit, till after 11pm with a Hawaiian station playing, on a couch with a lamp on one side and stairs on the other leading up to where another couple enjoyed their dinner and are now enjoying the evening as well. I miss the feel of country nights – stars, critters, quiet or rambunctious relaxation, but we have to sleep at some point to be ready for tomorrow.

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