Socials: Mill’s Ideology

Mill’s Ideology in a nutshell could be defined by the statement: “For the Greater Good.” Why try to make peace with your warring neighbors when you can massacre most of them quickly and efficiently?

Afternoon TALONS will understand this meme without the need for explanation, but essentially, during a class discussion on ethics with regards to ‘insert sarcasm here’ the greatest humanitarian ever, Christopher Columbus; Emma, thinking no one would hear, quietly spoke: “It’s easier to just kill everyone.”

Now, because I don’t want Emma to be investigated because of the lack of vocal inflection in the written language, I’ll make sure I clearly state that she was not serious.

In our TALONS Social Studies *cough* Philosophy *cough* class I recently came across one of the more intriguing ethical dilemmas that history can throw at you: Is the mindset of accepting atrocities as the price for greater human progress still with us today?

To answer this question, I must first separate it into chewable bites.

1) What, in clearly defined terms, is this “Mindset?”, and

2) How do we (dis)prove that we have evolved from our oftentimes, seemingly barbaric roots?

The latter is rather difficult to address, however the former can be shown very cleanly by the piece of media above: “It’s easier to just kill everyone.” This statement demonstrates the disconnect between what I, and many others regard as moral (e.g. not aimlessly murdering), and the concept of efficiency = good.

Keeping that in mind, I can now examine whether that ideology of seeing atrocities as acceptable when needed, has changed since Columbus.

I understand I will not be fully accurate, especially seeing as I live as a privileged, white male who arguably has never experienced true hardship; but I shall remain a student of perseverance.

The reason it is difficult to find out whether or not we accept atrocities as: uncool, but okay if it brings us new stuff- is mainly that history is generally dehumanized. Howard Zinn futilely attempted to ignore the effect that examining the past has on the story itself, but to no avail. Bias leaks through, and the humanity of it always, always bleeds away. Despite remaining consciously aware that it is happening, you can read about the most awful events to ever occur in human history and feel less emotion than you would if you stubbed your toe.

“Those tears, that anger, cast into the past depletes our moral energy for the present.” -Howard Zinn

The past simply does not bring up the emotion that the present does, and so it is frustrating to answer Question #2 because you cannot examine history and identify the feelings that it conjures up. So you have to look at the present. Anyone can do this, in fact, I recommend that you attempt this for yourself in a second: really think about the world, think hard about something that is happening right now, or something that you could postulate happening in the future.

For example, think about the revolutions in the Middle East: does the deposition of corrupt governments justify the thousands, or tens of thousands of people that have died and are dying?

Or what if North Korea did actually initiate war instead of only threatening it? Personally I can’t see an outcome where North Korea emerges victorious, but again: does the reintegration of a culture back into the international world actually outweigh the lives lost, the families ruined, the homes destroyed?

When I think about these questions, I get angry because my answer seems to vary depending on how empathic I feel that day, which isn’t exactly ideal for when you want to write down something concrete.

But ultimately, the answer is something personal. So if you want to find out, close your eyes, do you best to imagine those scenarios, and feel.

And then take those feelings and dissect them with cold, hard logic.

Presenting Jacob Grebrewold: Our Mentor (#2)

In my introductory post I briefly touched on the fact that after Emma and I had presented our poems at the Poetry Slam downtown, an older youth approached us and asked us a few questions.

“You guys were fantastic! You must be veterans at this, right?”

“Umm… nope. This is our first time.”

“No way! How old are you guys?”

“We are in grade 9…?”
“WHAAAAAT! That’s adorable! Ohmygoodnessgracious that is so awesome! You guys are going to go far… how would you guys like to workshop with me?” This is where Emma and I realized exactly what was actually happening. And so…

“Well, actually… blah blah blah… so the point is for our school project we are looking for a mento-”

“Sounds great! When can you guys meet up?”

And that is how we met Jacob.

So far, he seems really, really great. We’ve had one workshop with him so far, and it was incredible. He began by speaking about how eventually, workshops with him will leave poetry behind and just start to be about life… he actually founded the Port Moody Secondary Slam Poetry Team, and he gave us tips on how to start a club at Gleneagle (next year is coming soon!). After charming the librarians at the Coquitlam Public Library into giving us a room, he began by opening up John C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

“This book is my bible. My testament. It will help you with your poetry, creating a club, and it will make your life indescribably better. When we meet again in two weeks, you guys must have a copy of this. You can either get a copy from the library or, I recommend, buy it. If you have not gotten a copy, our next workshop will be very short. Do you understand?”

“…Yes sir!”

Although this may sound harsh, I was actually surprisingly happy to hear it. It showed how serious he was and how serious he expected us to be about the whole shebang.

After putting his book away, he made us create lists of our strengths & weaknesses with regards to poetry. Upon reading them:

“Oh YES. You guys are just like me when I first started out. If I put you two together and made you black, you’d be me.”

He has a curriculum for poetry, which has four pillars, and despite only getting a taste at that first session I am excited to learn the rest. So far this whole poetry experience has been amazingly surreal; he is a wonderful mentor, everything I could have asked for, and his teachings are going to improve both Emma’s and my poetry by leaps and bounds.

He is on the right: Jacob Grebewold w/ Ralph Aguila – Beautiful Homeland

Finally… he spoke to us about the provincial competition. Emma and I have formed a team! Gleneagle, for the first time ever, is going to be represented at Hullabaloo… so if you are reading this and you know someone at Gleneagle who really wants to do Slam Poetry maybe put them in touch with Emma or myself?

The poetry train is speeding up… here we go!

Reflections & Web 2.0 Tools

Lets launch straight in:

Bullying:

Bullying, looked at from an outside persective, may not always seem as detrimental to one’s health as it truly is. Yes, in the extreme cases (e.g. suicide, school shootings, etc.) it is readily apparent how harmful bullying is to the victim’s mental and physical health, however what can be easy to overlook is that bullying creates mental and physical damage no matter how small. Something as insignificant as the daily snide comment from the kid with the locker across from you about can, over time, be incredibly harmful.This is because bullying warps self-perception. Victims are often those who present or perceive themselves as weak, and bullies prey on those insecurities. This spawns more and more destruction of self-esteem and confidence in the victims, which again adds more to the fire. It is a viscous, viscous cycle, and one that is very difficult to break out of. But there are ways you can stop it. Don’t be a bystander. This is often said but often ignored. It is hard to build up the strength to approach a… volatile situation, but more often than not the victim just needs to know that there is someone that will stand up for them, and then hopefully they will be able to stand up for themselves. That is the ultimate goal.

Eating Healthy:

Eating healthy is an incredibly important aspect of living a, well, healthy life. Nutritious food is the foundation of a strong body, and as such one must never underestimate the wellness that fruits and veggies and other nutritious alternatives will bring you. Overall, eating healthy is something that you always should seek to be aware of. In our day and age, however, our culture promotes obsession with eating; healthily and unhealthily. We are bombarded with advertisements and messages that promote trash food, but paradoxically we are also constantly force fed the idea that health = fitness and eating tiny portions and consuming only soy-bran-raisin muffins. Living healthily is more than eating healthily, and never ever is it healthy to rate what food you eat over what life you live.

Healthy Relationships:

If eating healthy is the foundation of a healthy body, then forming healthy relationships is the foundation of a healthy mind. The people that we choose to surround ourselves with have a lot of influence on us, so we want to be with those who build us up, not those who tear us down. Exposure to unending negativity is very harmful to your mind, and so choose your friends, mentors, significant others, or rivals, wisely. If you feel like you are in an unhealthy relationship, get out of it. If the relationship is one-sided in commitment or power; if the relationship is manipulative; if the relationship at any point feels unsafe or detrimental to your physical or mental health, you are totally in the clear to end it. Just as you should aim to feed yourself good food, feed yourself good people.

Ya know, metaphorically.

Drugs & Alcohol:

My personal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol is limited, as I have lived a fairly sheltered life with regards to those two subjects. Nonetheless, here we go.

The media is constantly playing images of people who, after drinking, become the life of the party; happiness and respect from others is miraculously in their grasp after downing a few pints. It is easy to never learn, or perhaps, understand the dangers that alcohol, and to a further extent, drugs, present to your well-being if misused. The belief that these two substances are the path to joy is unfortunately very limited. Drugs and Alcohol can create a temporary boost of your spirits, however, if used in excess or repetitively, can have extremely negative effects on your mental and physical health, and also irreparably damage your social standing and relationships. Because both of these substances have highly addictive qualities, be conscious and aware of your intake to avoid falling into a dangerous pattern. The school system strives to educate it’s students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but presented with a treacherous situation, it is up to the individual at hand to make the choice; and the only way to make a wisely informed decision is to simply remain aware of the consequences of your actions.

STI’s:

STI’s are something that is commonly misunderstood. It is a topic that people laugh about instead of taking seriously; a common misconception is that STI’s such HIV and AIDS are contained to Third World Countries, but this is a fallacy. STI’s are present here in North America, and all over the world. It is something that everyone should be aware of. Prevention methods involve condoms, as well as regularly checking in with your Urologist or Obstetrician. Sex is a romanticized concept in our modern society, but with everything in life, to be safe and healthy you must first become aware of the consequences.

GOALS:

Becoming a “No” Man instead of a “Yes” Man.

Wordle: Eliminate The Stigma (STI's)

 

My Goal: Fruits & Veggies!

The Poetry has been Slammed

Me and Emma went downtown to perform Slam Poetry! It felt super edgy.

 

The smoke from the cafe fills my senses. The music that keeps playing seems to be immeasurably loud – am I the only one that thinks so? Maybe I am just nervous; after all, in ten minutes or less I will be up on this stage in front of me, presenting a poem that I have poured my heart and soul into, for a bunch of strangers that may or may not be incredibly judgemental.

But as the MC takes the mike and introduces the Youth Poetry Slam, much of my anxiety fades away. The crowd is as far away from judgemental as any crowd can be or has ever been, and the poets that go up are warmly received. When my name is called… I am ready to go.

I am still freaked out enough that for most of poem, I keep my eye’s tightly shut.

However, the roar of the applause after I am finished forces me to daringly glance through my closed eyelids, and I walk back to my seat in a sort of happy daze.

I get my score, and I advance to the second round, where I placed fourth out of the ten performers. Afterwards, some of the other poets came over to congratulate me, and many were incredibly surprised to find out I was 14.

I found a mentor, in the form of Jacob Grenebwold, an experienced spoken word performer and a major component in the Youth Slam organization. I will write more about him later… but he seems pretty rad, so far.

I was introduced to some really outstanding poets, technically qualified for the National Youth Spoken Word Team (although as I joined late in the season, this is incredibly unlikely), and had a blast.

It was just an incredibly successful night. It felt surreal. It was surreal. It seems as though a whole new avenue of possibilities has just opened up, and I can see myself actually doing something with poetry for my life.

A huge, HUGE shout-out to my poetry partner-in-crime, Emma, who not only went with me to perform, but also placed FIRST PLACE in the Youth Slam, which is an incredible achievement especially as this was our first time performing and we were the youngest poets there. If this is where we start, I am so excited to dream about where we could finish.

Now, I am writing this rather late at night as I simply cannot get it out of my head, so the Youtube Videos with Emma’s and my performances will be linked as soon as they come out. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a few days… we will see!

A Poetic Introduction

So I was sitting in French class, bored out of my mind. If Madame Udell reads this, I do love French! It was just at that particular moment I was finished all of my work.

So I started writing. That morning I had been listening to Shane Koyczan’s To This Day, so I decided to try my hand at poetry.

I kept writing after the bell, though most of lunch, and then during math once I was finished the day’s questions.

It kept spinning and spinning in my head, and the next day, I realized I had found my In-Depth: Slam Poetry.

Here is a recording of me reading my first ever poem: WARNING! Intensely melodramatic. Bwa ha ha. I don’t know what I was thinking.

File coming soon (Tomorrow) when technical difficulties are resolved.

^Please drop a comment, tell me whacha thought. Feedback is really going to help me out!

Oooooookay…

So. Why/how/when/where am I doing this? Well, I was really inspired by Shane Koyczan (go watch his video linked up there if you haven’t already. He’s amazing) and I always thought Slam Poetry was kind of cool. It was this sort of off-beat talent with words that some people seemed to possess, and it’s really impressive when you hear a good one. Slam is also really good at expressing thoughts/emotions/experiences that you couldn’t otherwise; much of modern slam is about some personal or global issue.

Emma (in afternoon) is also doing Slam Poetry, and we are going to do a lot of it together. In fact we will actually be performing at the Youth Slam Poetry House, every month, which is far more terrifying than I thought it would be when I agreed to do it, but at the same time I am really excited to get quality feedback and critique from 100 or so people.

Emma’s Blog <– Handy Link

 

Night of the Notables Reflection

Hard to put this into words.

First, a school day of intense stress. Block 1, 2, 3, 4… they all felt the same. Me tuning out the teacher because inwardly I was shrieking at the top of my lungs OHHHHHHHHH GOOOODNEEEESSSS IT’S TONIGHT I WONDER IF I COULD JUST DITCH MY LEARNING CENTER…

You get the point.

Then, in the prep time before dinner, it felt like the calm before the storm. I was surprisingly tranquil in this period. I felt as if I was floating –no matter what happens after this, you are done- and I was already set up, so I got to use the time to help out the people around me and preview their learning centers.

This was an incredibly idiotic idea.

I was so ashamed of my learning center after seeing everyone else’s, especially the grade 10’s. I hated that I wasn’t creative or surprising or fun in my learning center. Instead of a nice prep time, that revelation turned my thoughts back inward where flames of disappointment were roaring skyward. But I did my best to ignore it,and just kept working. A great distraction soon arose in the form of – dinner!

Dinner was delicious, and I tip my incredibly awesome metaphorical hat to the food crew. You guys did a great job. Pasta was a great choice, there were options for vegetarians, it was well organized… well done.

After dinner, I had a few more minutes to despair that no one would visit, and then the night began. Speeches were up first.

And they were incredibly. Grade 10’s, y’all were amazing. I saw a lot of wide eyes in the audience. I think it was a good choice overall to do the speeches at the beginning, as later that evening everyone just seemed more engaged.

After the fabulous speeches, we moved to the learning center portion of the evening. At first, no one visited me. I was between three excellent grade 10 learning centers, and everyone was trying to complete the game.

However, about 15 minutes in, this nice old lady came by. She saw the title of my poster board, which said ‘Live with Compassion’, and she asked “So what does it mean to live with compassion?”

I should have expected that question honestly, as it was the title of my center, but I was completely and utterly thrown by that. A bunch of thoughts whizzed through my head, and for a second I was afraid I was going to answer ‘I don’t know.’ But instead, I told her that living with compassion is something that is different for everyone, and for me it is about valuing happiness for myself and others. After that, we had this amazing conversation that I am still shocked I had. We talked about western societal patterns, and personal happiness, and how people in their community can actually build a peaceful culture. As we spoke, a little crowd formed around my table, and for much of the night I had a good 8 or 9 people listening and contributing to this great back-and-forth about the Dalai Lama’s beliefs. A few TALONS alumni came by to ask me rapid fire questions and tried to make me uncomfortable (thanks you guys!), and although they partially succeeded, I was just feeling good and I just kept talking.

Overall it was just a great night. Yeah. That about sums it up.

Annotated Biblography

No commentary on this one, folks.

Kindness, Clarity and Insight – The fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso 

Google Books Link

This was an interesting read, as it was not about the Dalai Lama at all, instead painting a picture of what it takes to live happily and build a culture of peace. I recommend this book, because of it’s short length (230 pages) and the insight that it offers into the Dalai Lama’s perspective. If you are impersonating him, it’s invaluable. 8/10.

The Path to Freedom – His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

Google Books Link

Great book, as it is a collection of two of his works. Part one focuses on his childhood, and later exile, and part two focuses on his hopes for the future. Part one was my main area of focus, but part two was very inspirational. Quite a bit longer than his previous book, at 500 pages, but definitely worth the read. 8/10.

The 14th Dalai Lama, A Manga Biography – Tetsu Saiwai

Google Books Link

This book was fabulous. It was the first thing I read, and it took me about ten minutes to read. It condensed all the important dates, facts, and people into this tiny book that was very entertaining. Perfect introduction book. 150 pages, all illustrated. 9/10.

Vancouver Dialogues, Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education

The Talks can be found here

Fun, short read, and very inspiring, but not useful for this project. This book is the Dalai Lama speaking to topics such as world peace, seeking compassion, etc. This book talks little about the Dalai Lama himself, and what he has done, and far more about where we can go for the future. 6/10.

The Story of Tibet, Conversations with the Dalai Lama – Thomas Laird

Google Books Link

This book caps out and 450 pages. It is a series of interview from the Dalai Lama to Thomas Laird about the culture, spirituality, and traditions of Tibet. This is not the book that will help you with this project. After reading it, I had a more thorough understanding of Tibet. Which is great. That is not what I was looking for. 4/10.

The Official Dalai Lama Website

http://dalailama.com/

I used this website a lot. The biography is not very extensive, but it has loads of great pictures. Of his exile, meeting world leaders, giving talks to schools all over the world… the pictures on this website are incredibly numerous. 9/10.

 

Library Blog Post

Hi. It’s been a while.

I often wonder: what is the motivation for procrastinating? I think to myself, maybe, if I put things off, then they won’t be my best, so if something isn’t good I can always say “I can do better.” If this is true, then a reason you may find it hard to be organized is simply that you are not comfortable enough/happy enough with who you are. Really, everything in life seems to return to those simple questions. Who am I? Am I good enough for me? Will I ever be good enough for me? When I ask myself these questions, the answer seems to vary.

But that’s okay. I’ll worry about those questions later…

So, the Library trip. I took notes during the event, so I will try my best to explain what it was to me.

Part one: the skytrain

  • Rushing, always rushing to get to the train
  • An uncomfortable realization that I should have brought a camera
  • It was a very peaceful ride, for the most part

Part two: the book store

  • Unbridled awe. How anyone can fit that many books into a store that small is beyond me. And we didn’t even get to see the basement!
  • Frustration. The sorting system was not always helpful, and the owner was in great demand for help.
  • Extreme joy upon finding books on the Dalai Lama.
  • Surprise, when I realized that half of those books were written by the Dalai Lama.
  • Upon leaving the store, I was very satisfied. The books I bought there were my main resource for the Eminent Person project, so I consider that store to have been the probably the most helpful resource for the project.

Part three: lunch

  • The moment of silence before lunch was quite nice. As I sat there, wrapped in my blanket, I had an interesting personal realization. Consider yourself, fourteen years old. What have you accomplished? What have you done that you thought you could never do? Because when the Dalai Lama was fourteen years old, he was getting pressured into taking the political, and spiritual leadership of Tibet so that he could defend his country. For me, that moment solidified my desire to study this man.
  • As always, Flying Wedge has delicious pizza. The soup, on the other hand… one could liken it’s appeal to the screeching wail of a banshee. I do not endorse that particular part of their menu.

Part four: the library

  • I have gone to the Vancouver Library many times before. Every time, I leave with a armful of books. This time, however, I already had an armful of books from the store, and so I did not end up taking out any books. So I was feeling quite disappointed with… myself? The library? I’m not sure.
  • Appreciation is always in my heart when I am in the library.
  • Near the end of our time there, I left myself fifteen minutes to go get bubble tea. Upon paying, Fiona, Eric and I waited for our drinks for fifteen minutes. Then we had to go, without our drinks. That left me feeling a little annoyed.

Part five: the skytrain home

  • Rushing. Sometimes walking, sometimes running, always rushing to get to the train.
  • Peaceful reflection, except that this time around the train was rather crowded. Much jostling and bumping around occured.

Overall, the trip was wonderful. This trip is one that I whole-heartedly recommend to all those that do Eminent Person. I found myself walking away with far more than I thought I would.

Eminent Introduction: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

One of my IEP interests is religion. When I was younger, I had a good friend, who one day realized I was an atheist. Because of my lacking faith in God he named me the devil child and tried to convert me/shield himself from me.

Haters gonna hate.

Anyways, since then a topic that has fascinated me has been how powerful someone’s faith can be, especially in cases where there may or may not be visible or quantifiable proof. Because of my curiosity concerning religion I chose to look for a religious leader for Eminent. The one that got my attention the most, was the 14th Dalai Lama. It’s hard, because this guy has a lot of names, so for all further appearances I will refer to him as Tenzin. Tenzin is, and always will be, an inspirational figure to me. In the face of great personal danger as well as inhumane cruelty against his people, Tenzin has always believed in compassion and love. He continues to be one of the greatest advocates for human rights, and his love of life and belief of goodness in everyone is incredible.

What follows is a short biography in which my initial research is presented. I tried to make it as concise as possible.

Tenzin was born Llhamo Dondrub, in a peasant family located in Qinghai, China. On December 17th, 1933, in Lhasa, Tibet, the 13th Dalai Lama died. The regent in Tibet at the time, Jamphel Yeshe Gyaltsen, had a vision where he determined the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama to be in the Amdo province in China. Gyaltsen then sent out a search party to locate the successor to the spiritual throne. What the party found was a two year old boy who immediately recognized the religious tools used by the previous Dalai Lama.

He was pretty cute. I gotta say, I like his hat.

The search party decided that Tenzin was the new reincarnation, and so they returned to Lhasa where Tenzin met Gyaltsen. After further tests, Tenzin was recognized as the new spiritual leader of Tibet, and was reborn as Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. From there, he was sent off to various temples for monastic training, where Tenzin learned how to win the hearts of the people of Tibet.

blah

You can really tell he’s winning the hearts of the people… I mean, who could resist that face?

In 1940, Gyaltsen, who was a mentor and father-figure to Tenzin, resigned because he broke his vow of celibacy. Tenzin appointed a new regent in Tathag Ripoche, another of his teachers. Six years later, in 1947 Gyaltsen attacked Tathag Ripoche, in an attempt to regain political power. In the attempt, the Ripoche monastery was destroyed. This betrayal was an important turning point for Tenzin, as from then on he made many more public appearances, making vows to teach happiness and enlightenment through a pacifistic path. For another three years, Tenzin learned and taught in Lhasa.

In 1950, a shocking change happened in China. The civil war had ended, and Chairman Mao had risen to the role of leadership. China began to threaten Tibet, claiming “Tibet is just a part of the People’s Republic of China… The Liberation Army will march on and emancipate it’s Tibetan People from the hands of the foreign Imperialists!”

Tibet immediately launched a demonstration and issued a press release, denying the need for emancipation because there was no foreign imperialists… but they were too late. On October 7th of 1950, the Chinese army invaded from the eastern side of Tibet, launching a full scale assault on the eastern capital Chamdo. The fast moving invaders caused the political elements in Tibet to convene, and they decided that they were out of options. Their last hope lay in His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. When Tenzin was 15 years of age, he ascended to the full throne of Tibet.

Tenzin fled Lhasa, going to southern Tibet. The Chinese pursued him, and Tenzin was then forced to flee to India, or risk all out war with the Chinese. In 1959, the Chinese shelled Lhasa, reducing much of the great city to rubble, and killing tens of thousands.

lhasa destoryed

I have nothing to say on this one.

The Panchen Lama (the second to Dalai Lama) remained in Tibet. The Chinese allowed him to make a speech, and promised to let him live on the condition that he renounced the Dalai Lama, still in exile. In 1989, the Panchen Lama made a speech where he criticized the Chinese and reiterated that the Dalai Lama was the true leader of Tibet. He died shortly after.

In 1989 Tenzin received a Nobel Peace Prize.  Upon his acceptance, he addressed the audience, saying “Individually, this prize does not mean much to me. However, for the entire Tibetan population it means so much. The true recipient of this prize for peace is none other than the Tibetan people.”

djfka

“Yeah, just got a nobel peace prize… thanks y’all, imma go sleep now.” -At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.