Thursday, February 25, 2010

Speaking Out

There are two politicians in this picture. One is smiling and smug. He is quite happy with the status quo. One is yelling because he is outraged. He cannot stay quiet. He has to brake the silence.
Ron Paul broke the silence when ran for President in 2008. Even though he had been saying the same thing for years, for the first time people finally heard his voice. I don’t want to put Ron Paul on a pedestal or overstate his success but, I do want to give him credit where credit is do. Ron Paul brought a message. He brought a message of liberty and peace that had been long lost in the political scene. He reminded people that they don’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils and that there are principles that we have to stand on. I think what Ron Paul challenged was the status quo directly. The three things our country was (and is still) moving towards were economic collapse, military collapse and a collapse of personal liberty.
One of Paul’s biggest concerns was an economic one. He recognized that the economic boom cycle was coming to an end. The status quo at the time was that people could keep buying houses that they could not afford, banks could keep giving out loans and easy credit and that the Federal Reserve could do pretty much whatever it wanted. He challenged these notions and when the recession hit people had to realize that he was right.
He also had a concern over America’s involvement in aggressive and pre-emptive wars. Like Martin Luther King Jr. he has a desire to see peace and brotherhood. He also had a realistic grasp of the situation in the Middle East and wasn’t afraid to speak the truth even if it was unpopular. This is a definite challenge to the status quo because both parties voted for the war and even Obama who ran as the “peace” candidate has chosen to escalate the war on terror.
At the CNN republican primary debates he gave John McCain a brief history lesson and spoke out for a foreign policy of peace and non-intervention. He broke the silence and protested the war in Iraq. This is something that took serious guts. Not only because he would be the only Republican bold enough to take an anti-war stance, but also because 5 years earlier he had to have the strength of character to vote against the war in the first place.
The final area which Paul spoke up about was personal and liberties. He made an appeal to logos and argued on constitutional grounds. He wanted to help people see through the doublespeak that was propagated towards them. He desired for people to see through the fear tactics designed to make them surrender their liberties. He spoke especially adamantly against the PATRIOT Act and against the abuse of human rights and civil liberties in regards to the war on terror.
Ron Paul spoke out boldly and began a new conversation about American policies and libertarian ideals. I believe people have already embraced the message he presented and will continue to do so. We will continue to see people like Adam Kokesh, Rand Paul and Peter Schiff run for public office. We will continue to see organizations like Campaign for Liberty and Young American’s For Liberty grow. I also think that the movement will evolve in new ways and soon be much bigger than what Ron Paul ever expected it to be.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Freedom of Literacy

Some of my finest childhood memories are about learning to read. I remember sitting down with my dad and reading a book about the founding fathers of our country. I was home-schooled for second and first grade so I learned to read and write at home. I can't really imagine learning how to read in the context of school. I guess that's why children's book author Emilie Buchwald once said; "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." I think my parent's influence set the stage for my life long love of reading and writing.

When I think back upon my life many of my memories would be completely lost without literacy. I grew up in the library. Every Saturday my mother would take my sister and me to the Little-Rock public library. We would pick out a big stack of books to take home to read that week. Having grown up that way it is hard to imagine being illiterate. So much of who I am would be lost if I could not read. I wouldn't have the same confidence and self esteem. I wouldn't have been able to survive school. I wouldn't have taken an Honors English course in 8th grade; I met one of my best friends in that class. I wouldn't have joined an after school book club in 8th grade. I wouldn't have taken AP Literature or AP Language and Composition in high school. I definitely wouldn't have taken a class about Shakespeare last semester and I definitely wouldn't be in this class.

Beyond just the effect illiteracy would have had on my course in life and English academics, all of the other areas of my personal interest and education would be nearly impossible with out literacy. I don't know how I would have graduated high school with out being able to read. I wouldn't have been able to perform in Drama without being able to read my lines. I am not only actor, but a writer and a filmmaker. I wouldn't be able to write a story or script for one of my films. I wouldn't be able to write newsletters for my production company. I wouldn't be able to read and discover new ways to make films. Without literacy my hands would essentially be tied behind my back.

Going through life illiterate must be much like singing in a choir without being able to read music. I was in high school choir and now I am in my church choir, and I don't read music. I have to listen to a song over and over again to learn it. One day I hope to learn to read music and open my eyes to another language. I desire music literacy. And just as I must inconvenience the music teacher to essentially spoon feed the music to me in only an auditory manner, an illiterate person must have to likewise inconvenience the world around him.

Literacy is essential to having a full life. It is necessary to efficiently gain knowledge. Being illiterate would essentially handicap you in a modern society. That is why during the age of slavery slave masters would not allow their slaves to learn how to read or write. The former slave Frederick Douglass put it this way; "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." I am thankful for my literacy because it is my strength and my freedom.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Portrait of a Critical Thinker

Benjamin Andrews
Prof. Gross
English 103
14 February 2010
Portrait of a Critical Thinker
A critical thinker puts thought into everything. Critical thinking is essentially the application of more thought into the understanding of a subject than what we can understand from a first impression. The difference between static observation and dynamic critiquing is like examining a movie scene by scene, line by line and shot by shot as opposed to simply watching one. When we think critically we must examine everything including, but not limited to, context, syntax, metaphors, alliteration, religion, philosophy, science and politics. Critical thinking is a holistic act of examining and understanding a subject in a certain context.
One of the most important things to examine through critical thinking is the context in which the subject exists. For example, a pastor must study the historical context in which the author Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to be able to properly communicate the message and meaning of the passage to his congregation. A pastor must also consider the meaning of the of the original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic text as well as the writer’s choice of vocabulary. Examining a passage of scripture out of context can have severe negative theological consequences.
A critical thinker must take into consideration the thinker’s general knowledge. A mature critical thinker is a well-rounded individual that can process complex information. For example, a citizen must be able to listen to the speech of a politician and discern fact from fiction. This requires the citizen to be alert and knowledgeable in several areas. He (or she) must have a concrete understanding of history and an awareness of current events. The concerned citizen must also have basic knowledge of fundamental concepts such as the role of government, economic theory, foreign policy and civil rights to name a few. Without critical thinking, a democracy cannot function.
A critical thinker needs a healthy dose of skepticism. He also needs a balanced portion of faith and doubt. We need to measure what is presented to us against what we can observe through scientific inquiry, reason and logic. However, we must accept some things as mysteries that we cannot personally comprehend and can only test as truth through deductive reasoning. For example, the average person does not understand binary code but can observe the smooth operation of an Apple computer and realize a computer engineer designed it to work that way. Likewise, we apply deductive reasoning in the practice of theology and Christian doctrine. The theologian deducts from observation of the natural world that there is a Creator. He studies multiple belief systems and concludes although all religious systems have different doctrines and rituals they can be divided into two groups: religions that teach people that they must work to be reconciled with their god(s) and Christianity which states God works to reconcile humans to Himself.
Without critical thinking, we cannot make intelligent observations or develop complex social structures and technology. It enables us to make art, devise policies, solve problems and study the transcendent nature of divinity. Critical thinking is absolutely vital to our existence. Through the application of critical thinking in the above examples of theology and democracy I will be able to better understand the world I live in.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow Capped Mt. over Tehachipi





Sometimes, you have to stop and take some pictures.
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A New Direction

Attention Dear readers:
My blog is going to go in a little bit of a new direction. On this blog, I will also be posting a reading journal for my Critical Thinking and Research online course at Antelope Valley College. Which simply means this blog will become more populated with writing and intelligent thoughts.

Also since I haven"t posted a blog since, well exactly a month ago, I'd like to give you an update of my life.
1. I almost took 21 units this semester but decided to drop 3 classes and now I am taking 12.
2. I can't go to CSUN in the fall.
3. If I get into USC i can go!
4. I am working for the 3rd day this year today and have work on monday as well as a written exam for a library job in Palmdale on Tuesday! YAY!
5. The website will be undergoing some changes as my sister has agreed to help out with web design. (Thank you Naomi!)
6. I will be auditioning for a role of a homeless man in a local independent film soon. Hence the growth of my facial hair.
7. DragonCow Productions will be on tv again in a couple of weeks.
8. I am rolling along in pre-production of a tv-pilot. Looking for cast and crew. Actors email: Crew email:
9. I am still madly in love with my girlfriend.
10. I have also recently fallen deeper in love with making lists.
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