September 11: Forgiveness is not Part of the Lessons Learned
Parapharistic Reading Method
This article was written on the first anniversary of the September 11 World Trade Centre attacks against the United States. Instead of reflecting on how US citizens are coping with the worst international attack against the US since the Pearl Harbour attack that started the Second World War, this article focuses on President Bush’s decision to go to war against Iraq. The text insists that instead of going to war, The Bush administration and all of the citizens of the United States should have forgiven the people who committed the attack. It claims that the United States has no moral ethics when it comes to innocent lives being lost in battle, both historically, and in future attacks on Iraq and Saddam Hussein. This article is not nearly as objective as it should be, and only shows one side to the issue of the US going to war. It fails to point out that historically, the US has helped to overcome many evil dictators and oppressive governments in the hope that the citizens of that country can be free, at the cost of many US lives with little gain. To stand by and let a ruler destroy his or her citizens is not in the United States’ nature, especially when that ruler attacked the United States.
The radical truth is, it is revenge that President Bush craves. Retribution: a body for a body. Now the seemingly high moral standards of Bush and his acolytes are exposed. The haste with which he is pursuing Iraq for not plausible reason other than to complete the unfinished assignment of his father exposes Bush’s dubious standards. Those standards of restraint, peaceful means, using the law, making a case through international legal systems, working with international organizations. . . not doing to others as they would do – or have done – unto you are thrown to out the window when “American interests” are affected.
This paraphrased excerpt from the article was chosen because although it does provide alternate paths to which the United States could have taken instead of directly going to war with Iraq, the options are clouded due to unsupported claims about why President Bush jumped into war in the first place. While the alternative that the US could have taken are valid, the remainder of the paragraph is based only on opinion and not on facts, making the entire article less influential.
One of the most recurred to themes I have learned throughout this semester is the idea of debunking. Debunking, according to the lectures, is the idea of looking at both the obvious or surface-level and the less obvious or deeper explanations for social behavior in the aim of challenging conventional truths. While that definition provides an adequate understanding of the term, the process of debunking does not become clear until it is actually practiced. Throughout this semester, we have used debunking in a variety of ways to unveil the truth about concepts or social realities. The following gives some thought as to why I chose to use the recurring theme of debunking as part of my reflective essay.
In the most recent classes, we have discussed the idea that race is a social construct and not a biological inheritance. Prior to taking this course, I had no reason to question the concept of race being used to describe someone. I did not think twice to classify someone based on their skin colour or hair texture. Those with “mixed” racial features were always harder to place in a certain race. It never occurred to me that I was using a socially created idea to judge these people. Once Mr. Quist-Adade began to debunk race through his lectures and of supplemental material, it became quite clear that there is not scientific basis for the concept of race. As a science student, I like to have some sort of proof backing up my ideas or claims. After debunking, I was confused as to why I had just assumed for so long that race existed. I suppose it is engrained in children, whether obviously or subtly, that race is real, and I had never challenged it. Now, I see the unfamiliar in the familiar in race, which is an outcome of debunking.
Debunking has helped me to unlearn many aspects of conventional truths in everyday life. I now ask myself questions such as “Why do men have to be the breadwinners of a family?” or “Why are young girls taught to play with Barbies and not imaginative toys such as Lego”? Of course I do not have all the answers to these questions, but I like the way I now have a capacity to ask them, whereas before I was ignorant. I thought coming into this course that I would learn these different theories but never actually apply them. However, my behavior has been changed by the idea of debunking, and that is why I chose this recurring theme as the most important.
Ghana Field School Students Colloquium
The November 10th student colloquium held at Kwantlen`s Conference Hall was both inspiring and informative. The Ghana Field School Students Colloquium showcased the trip to Ghana through each student`s eyes, giving multiple perspectives to the experience. Because almost every student that I was able to listen to had a different placement once they were established in Ghana, it allowed me to get a better understanding of how the field school is operated, and what sorts of opportunities I would be able to have if I chose to get involved with the field school.
One of the main positive points in each of the student’s presentations was that the trip to Ghana was a one-in-a-lifetime experience. Many of them tried but were not very successful at articulating the overall feelings they had towards the trip. This told me two things: one, that the trip was such a whirlwind of activities that the students had a tough time absorbing everything; and two, that because the sorts of things that each of the students saw and did in Ghana were so different to the customs in Canada, it was hard for them to explain the experience in a way that people who had not been there would understand.
One of the perhaps not so positive comments about the field school trip to Ghana was that the students felt like they didn’t have a big enough say in the work they were assigned to do. Many of them would have liked more responsibilities, or at least some clarity in what their duties were as field students. The first student to speak had a placement in an elementary school, and said that she felt like she was capable of more responsibility in the classroom but was unsure of what her role was supposed to be while there. Other students, like one who had a placement in a women’s rights office, had quite a bit of responsibility. She was responsible for creating a draft of a newsletter that would be passed around to women in villages to inform them of important issues such as birth control.
Overall, all the students that I was able to listen to said they had a fantastic time on the field school trip, and would recommend the trip to anyone who is remotely interested in going. Most of their recommendations to the teachers who sponsored the trip were to make the trip longer, as well as allow the students to have more say in their trip, including such things as even booking a flight to Ghana that was at a more reasonable time. After hearing all the presentations about the field school to Ghana, I would agree that a trip such as this would be very worthwhile. I would not, however, be inclined to go on this trip in the near future, for the reason that this trip is quite expensive and all the details regarding students’ positions once there are not really smoothed all the way out yet. Later, once the details of the Ghana field school trip have been established, this trip will be a great success.
What are the consequences of the current world population of 7 billion in terms of global social justice?
For as long as the functions of society have been recorded, there has always been an unequal sharing of resources. Back then, it was not a prevalent issue in society, because there were fewer people to share those resources. However, now that the world population has reached 7 billion people, the sharing of resources has become a major concern for many, with the fear that the greed of the wealthy will force the underprivileged to go without sufficient water or starve. And although money is not necessarily a resource, it still holds an enormous amount of power in terms of who gets access to the resources available.
The main problem in overcoming unequal sharing of resources and achieving global social justice is the fact that for millions of people living in first-world countries have been brought up with the idea that because they live in a place that has an abundance of resources available, they are entitled to use as much of those resources as they wish. Along with that sense of entitlement comes greed, where resources are sold for large amounts of money, and only those with enough can obtain them. This leaves many third-world countries unable to receive sufficient resources to meet the needs of all of their citizens.
In order to achieve global social justice in terms of equal sharing of resources, hundreds of millions of people must change their way of life as well as their thought process about resources. Money must also be intensely downsized as a use of power. That way, all people can share the same luxuries and resources that only some are enjoying now.
Negotiation, Not Retribution
This article is about putting the September 11, 2001 attack, and the subsequent response by the United States, into perspective. It indicates that history has continued to show that retaliation and retribution are not effective ways of dealing with terrorism, but negotiation is. The article points out that political figures continually change their views to benefit themselves, read maintain support from their people to stay in power. Instead of hastily deciding to go to war after the September 11 World Trade Centre attack, the writer insists that negotiations are the best way to proceed.
After completing the article, I feel that jumping directly into the war against terror was a mistake made by the United States. More information should have been gathered before sending troops overseas.
I think part of the reason President Bush decided to rush into the war against terror was because there was pressure from his citizens as well as his staff to retaliate. They expected an aggressive response from the president, and to propose a negotiation with the terrorists who committed the attack would not have made President Bush as popular as he became after he announced the United States would be going to war.
I believe that if more US citizens knew about where their government lends its “help” to, they would be less inclined to continue to support it. People are not as involved in their government’s affairs and dealings as they can and should be.
I know that the war against terror will eventually come to a conclusion, but I don’t know that going to war was in the best interest of the United States. I know that President Bush is no longer a popular person to many US citizens, showing how quickly opinions can change about political figures.
Issues in Social Justice
Chapter 12 focuses on race and racism. Race, as the text points out, is not real in a biological sense, but is very real in the social context. The consequences of race, indicating racism, are also unfortunately real in the social world. The chapter explains the meaning and proof behind these concepts. The term race is thrown around in casual conversation every day, without people stopping to think about what the word actually describes. People will classify someone as a certain race based on their skin colour, hair texture, and facial features. The problem with this is that depending on where that person lives can alter the race of the person they are judging. This inconsistency helps to prove that race is certainly not a biological trait, but rather a made-up social tool used to classify people into a hierarchical system. Racism spawns from the hierarchical system of humans, allowing people from the so-called superior race to discriminate and look down upon those with a lower race status. Racism will never cease to exist until society stops teaching children about the race system they are born into, and rather teach them to view all other people as individuals, without judging them based on their skin colour or hair texture.
The Ibo man did not refer to himself as “Black” until others defined him as that. This suggests that race is socially constructed. It was those who called the Ibo man “Black” and the Englishman “White” who gave birth to the idea of racism: the systematic means of excluding access to resources and opportunities to a group of people based on their skin colour or ethnic background. In other words, people created the concept of race at some point in history, and produced ideas to support the concept. Race and racism are modern inventions.
The five sentences above were paraphrased from this chapter. They were chosen because they give some thought-provoking points to consider, such as why we call African-Americans “Black”, or call Europeans “White”. This paraphrase also points out what can result from using race to describe people: racism. Finally, it supports the idea that race and racism are socially created.