Final Reflection

This course has taught me so much!  I learned more than I ever thought I would.  When we began the nature section of our readings I had my own biased thoughts about the matter.  I was one of those people who liked nature well enough but didn’t really believe that we were destroying nature with our “technology”.  However, after reading so many testimonies by the authors of this section I began to realize the damage that we can cause the nature we inhabit, and began to gain a strong desire to protect that environment for future generations to enjoy and to protect our ecosystem.

From the religion section I learned about how religion arose.  Before this class I had never thought about why people had once created creation myths, however, I now understand that it is in an attempt to make sense of things that go on with the world around us, and to help define our places here on earth and to try and answer the question of where we are going.  I learned that each religion has its own distinct beliefs, but that many religions share some very similar beliefs and qualities, it really helped me to become more willing to accept the beliefs of others and not just discount them because they were not my own.

The romance section really made me think about love.  For some it is nothing more than a chemical reaction within the brain that causes the stages of love to begin.  However, for me I still am a believer that love is something more spiritual and requires a connection between the two people and a willingness to accept others for who they are.  I don’t think this feeling will ever change, what can I say, I am a hopeless romantic!

From the final diversity section I learned that there are privileges that are given to people of different genders and different races, even if they are unaware of those privileges.  It is hard for many people to see that they are being given special treatment, even I had never realized the many privileges that I gain just from being a man, however, after having those privileges laid out one can clearly see that the odds and benefits are skewed in the favor of the male gender.  I was also horrified to once again read about the awful discrimination that went on because of race.  I am always ashamed of that part of my countries history, despite the many things that are so great about America, we made a mistake.  I hope that this kind of discrimination will never happen again, however, no one is perfect and it is more than likely to continue to happen.

I have loved this class so much and I cannot believe that it is over.  I will miss learning all that I did from the texts and from the ideas and thoughts shared by the members of my class.  I was really given some great insight into some major human issues.  I will miss this class so much, but I will continue to read about current issues and hopefully learn to develop my own opinions and ideas of what is going on in the world around me.

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Gender Issues

THE MALE PRIVILEGE CHECKLIST

Men are far more privileged in society than women are.  This is not to say that men do not have to work hard or are completely exempt from hardship and suffering, “in the end, however, it is men and not women who make the most money; men and not women who dominate the government and the corporate boards; men and not women who dominate virtually all of the most powerful positions of society.  And it is women and not men who suffer the most from intimate violence and rape; who are the most likely to be poor; who are, on the whole, given the short end of patriarchy’s stick” (pg. 536).

Some of the privileges that men are given include the odds of being hired for a job being raised over a woman; men are praised more for work that was done equally as well by a woman; men are not scrutinized for their impact when it comes to raising their children; men aren’t judged as much for sleeping around as women are; looks are less important for a man; men are not expected to sacrifice their career for their children.  These are just to list a few of the privileges and to put it all more into perspective the biggest privilege that men have is the ability to be unaware of their privileges as a man.

I had never before realized the privileges that I personally have as a man in society; however, after having those privileges outlined I realized how many there really are and that I, just as the author suggests, am completely unaware of the privileges that I am given.

MEDIA PORTRAYALS OF MEN AND MASCULINITY

The media is constantly reinforcing our ideas of what it means to be a man, and male stereotypes.  These stereotypes include:

  • The Joker– “a negative consequence of this stereotype is the assumption that boys and men should not be serious or emotional” (pg. 539).  One example of the joker stereotype that I have seen on television is the character Dean Winchester, from the  CW series Supernatural.  Dean is constantly making jokes and never seems to take anything as seriously as it should be, and therefore perfectly fits the role of the joker.

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  • The Big Shot– “This stereotype suggests that a real man must be economically powerful and socially successful” (pg. 539).  This stereotype can be seen in the character of Benjamin Barry from How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.  He is a big-time magazine writer who is attempting to gain an even better position, and in the movie this is portrayed as part of what makes him appealing to women.

  • The Action Hero– “[he] is strong, but not necessarily silent.  He is often angry.  Above all, he is aggressive in the extreme and, increasingly over the past several decades, he engages in violent behavior” (pg. 539).  An example of this sterotype in the media is Clark Kent, from the CW series Smallville.  Clark is the television representation of superman, and he is extremely quiet but constantly engages in violent acts, usually to prevent crime and protect others, and is very prone to aggression.

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LOOKING FOR MY PRINCE CHARMING

Every woman looks for certain aspects in a man that they feel they would like to have as a future spouse.  These qualities and characteristics are all derived from how a woman is raised as well as her cultural and religious background.  This means that for many women the classic stereotypical types of men are what they look for.  In America it is common for women to go after the big shot, because of the lifestyle that many Americans wish to have that requires large amounts of money to be maintained.  In other cultures there are different stereotypes that women are more likely to look for.

Reflection Week 17

Graduation by Maya Angelou is an excerpt from her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  It is the representation of the devastation that was caused by racism and segregation in her own life.  After hearing a speech where she is told that role models for black people are merely male athletes she realizes that there is almost no hope at all for her to become anything of importance because the only roles of importance that can be played by African Americans, according to the white people of her time, were athletes and the only way to be an athlete was to be male.  In her mind, Angelou had no hope of becoming anything and it was a devastating thing to think as a young girl in the eight grade.  However, despite her many trials Angelou was able to overcome them and has made great triumphs in her time and has became extremely successful and holds a very important role as a contemporary American writer.  It just goes to show that people are capable of exceeding expectations.

Graduation

Graduation by Maya Angelou is an excellent representation of the separation between races that took place during much of United States history during the 1900’s.  It shows the strong division between the lifestyles and beliefs of the “whites” and the “blacks”, as well as the power the white people seemed to have over the beliefs and attitudes of the black people who they felt were so below them.  I was appalled while reading this to hear about the condition of the local black high school, described as “having neither lawn, nor hedges, nor tennis court, nor climbing ivy…Rusty hoops on swaying poles represented the permanent recreational equipment” (page 612).  It was an absolute devastation to me to visualize the school and its squalor appearance.

Another prominent theme shown through this piece of writing was the power that the white people held over those they felt were lower than themselves.  The town is getting all ready for graduation and everyone is getting excited and looking forward to the success of their graduates.  At the graduation ceremony they have a special speaker deliver the commencement address, his name is Edward Donleavy.  He begins the speech by mentioning the improvement that will be made to the local “central high school”, meaning the white high school.  He then goes on to mention Lafayette County Training School, and how some of the best black athletes have come from this school, highlighting the differences of the white students who would become scientists and mathematicians.  “The accomplishment was nothing.  The meticulous maps, drawn in three colors of in, learning and spelling decasyllabic words, memorizing the whole of The Rape of Lucrece—it was for nothing.  Donleavy had exposed us.  We were maids and farmers, handymen and washerwomen, and anything higher that we aspired to was farcical and presumptuous” (page 616).

It was amazing to see how easily Donleavy was able to harm the hopes and dreams of the young Maya Angelou through a simple speech in which he pointed out the discriminatory differences between black and white people, and I was absolutely shocked by her immediate loss of pride in the accomplishment of her diploma.  However, the work was summed up by a representation of the spirit of the African American people as they sang a song they called the “Negro national anthem”.  “The tears that slipped down many faces were not wiped away in shame.  We were on top again.  As always, again.  We survived.  The depths had been icy and dark, but now a bright sun spoke to our souls.  I was no longer simply a member of the proud graduation class of 1940; I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race” (page 617).  This quote shows the ability and strength of the African American people to withstand nearly everything thrown at them and come out on top.  They were able to overcome the dreadful bonds of involuntary servitude, and eventually overcome the devastation caused by the constant racism that was accepted and promoted in the United States; a testament to the everlasting statement of Martin Luther King Jr.  “YES WE CAN”.

Reflection Week 16

The authors that wrote these stories about discrimination were growing up in the early to mid 1900’s.  This was a time when segregation ran rampant through the United States, upheld by several Supreme Court decisions that stated that if the separate facilities were equal in all aspects they did not violate the rights given to American citizens by the constitution.  Segregation stood fast for decades with this belief of “separate but equal”.  It was only in the court case Brown v. Board of Education that this rule was overturned by the Supreme Court and it was set forth that “separate but equal” facilities in the schooling system violated the equal protection given to each citizen under the law.  This was the first step in a process that eventually became known as the Civil Rights Movement, in which equal rights were fought for and gained for everyone.

The Tragedy of Clayson Manner

Jared Clayson was a very isolated man, he lived alone in a vast mansion on a property of over 2 acres.  The mansion was an excellent representation of classic Victorian style building, with a slight gothic influence.  The land surrounding the mansion was filled with greenery and flowers; in the front of the home was a road that circles around the front of the home, and in the center of this circle was a large flowerbed filled with all types of flowers, maintained by the gardeners that were paid to care for the property.  In back of the house there was a yard with a gazebo where Jared would sit and read; and after the expanse of his yard there was a forested area that led off through the rest of the property; the place was called Clayson Manor.

Jared was content to live alone and revel in the spoils of his riches, which he had not worked a day in his life to build, being born into wealth.  He rarely left his home, he would send his servants to do any shopping needed and to take care of any of his business, in actuality, his only real contact with the world was with his paid servants who attended to the manor.  But all this was about to change.  One Sunday evening Jared decided to take a walk along the trail that traveled through the forest behind Clayson Manor.  As he walked along the beautiful trail, filled on both sides by trees and other forest greenery, he stumbled upon a young woman who appeared to be in some sort of distress.

He found it in him to ask the young woman if there was anything he could do to help.  She said she was out looking for her nephew who had gone out into the woods earlier that day and had not returned.  Jared, despite his usual attitude of selfishness decided to help the young woman and they began their search for the boy.  After hours of trekking through the forest they found the young boy stuck in a tree he had been climbing and was too afraid to come down from.  Jared climbed the tree and helped the boy to safely navigate his way to the stable ground below.

After returning the boy to his home, the young woman introduced herself as Chloe Archibald.  She lived little more than a mile away from Clayson Manor in a very humble home.  She invited Mr. Clayson in for dinner, saying that it was the least she could do for all the help he had given in rescuing her nephew.  Jared agreed to the meal begrudgingly and spent around an hour just talking with Chloe and her family.

The next morning, Jared woke up with a feeling of emptiness in his stomach.  It was a feeling that he had never felt before because he had never been in want of anything.  He tried everything he could think of to make himself feel better, eating, reading a book, walking the property, but nothing seemed to help.  Eventually, Jared realized that what he was longing for wasn’t something he owned, he could not seem to stop thinking about the young Chloe Archibald.  He kept seeing the image of her beautiful face running through his mind, her kind smile, and the gratitude that she had shown him after the help he had given.  He began to realize that the only way to feel the emptiness would be to see this woman again.

He took his leave of the manor and headed off the Archibald home.  When he arrived he asked Ms. Archibald if she would join him in a walk through the woods, and she enthusiastically agreed.  As they walked through the woods she discovered that he was one of the richest men in the city and was the owner of Clayson Manor.  She remembered all of the stories she had heard about the man who owned that manor being a cruel man with no thought or care for anyone but himself, but she could not imagine that Jared could possibly be that man that she had heard such things about.  After hours of walking they stumbled upon an old man who was in need of food and shelter, he stopped them as they passed and asked if they could do anything to help him.

Chloe, knowing who Mr. Clayson was, felt that he was capable of providing some service to this man, however, rather  than even to look at the man Jared stuck his nose into the air strode away very proudly.  Chloe was shocked by Jared’s lack of respect and left to her home in the other direction, by the time Jared realized she was gone it was too late to go after her.

The next day Jared once again went to the Archibald home and asked for Chloe.  He was told that she was busy at the moment and would not be able to come to the door to speak with him.  He was taken aback and returned home disappointed that Chloe had ignored him so easily.  The rest of that day was spent in agony as he thought of Chloe and realized how much he missed her.  He was determined that he would win her back somehow.

For each day of the next two months Jared would return to Chloe’s home and ask for here company as he walked through the forest, and each day he would be refused without even being able to see her.  He finally decided that the time had come for them to talk, and as she would not come to the door he would write her a letter.  Paper and pen were brought to Jared by his servants and he began to compose a letter, in which he mentioned how his thoughts could not drift from the young woman and how he so desired to spend time with her.  He then hand delivered the letter on the stoop of the Archibald home and left.

After three days of waiting Jared finally received a letter.  Inside, in Chloe’s hand, was written that she too missed his company, but that she was outraged by his blatant disrespect towards the man who had needed help.  Jared was shocked, he had never been told that there was something wrong with him and was for a while very offended by Chloe’s reply.  However, he still could not get the image of the beautiful Chloe out of his mind, and he began to read the letter, over and over, contemplating what he could do.  He finally came to the conclusion that the only way to win back Chloe’s love was to prove he was not the man she thought he was.

Jared set out into the woods to find the man they had come across on their first walk together.  He eventually found the man and told him he would give him food and a meal if he agreed to go and tell Ms. Chloe Archibald of the generosity that Jared had shown him.  The man willingly agreed and was compensated and directed to Chloe’s home.  The next day, Jared set off to the Archibald home sure that he would receive Chloe’s company on a walk.  When he arrived he received the same response he always had, that Ms. Archibald was indisposed.  After returning home he found he had received another letter from Chloe, in which she told him that she was not impressed by his false attempts at proving that he was a good person.  Jared decided that he would truly have to change to win Chloe back.

Over the course of the next month he began to spend time away from his home, he went into the city quite a bit and spent time speaking with all the people he had never met before.  He discovered that many people were in desperate need of help, however, it was only when he saw the condition of the orphanage that so many were huddled into that he was truly touched.  He realized that his actions to that point had been completely disgraceful, and Chloe had been right he did not deserve her.  He set to work immediately to right all of his wrongs.

Six months later and Jared had built a completely new orphanage after selling off half of his own property to afford it, he had also opened several goodwill programs that provided food and temporary shelter to those in dire need.  He truly became a different person and had really began to care about other, but the emptiness he felt remained because he was away from the one he loved.  However, Chloe had watched Jared’s transformation and was convinced that he truly was a changed man.  She decided that when he next called on her that she would go out and walk the woods with him.  Jared never returned to her home.

Jared had decided that Chloe simply did not want to spend time with him, and he understood her feelings now that he realized the man he had been before.  At the same time, Chloe felt that Jared had moved on and did not care for her any more, and neither party wanted to hurt the other by forcing them to spend time together.

Years passed and neither Jared nor Chloe saw one another.  One day while walking through the city Jared heard of the recent engagement of Ms. Chloe Archibald to the bachelor of the city Jason Rogers.  He was devastated and returned to his home where he spent hours walking the grounds feeling sorry for himself.  Jared remained at Clayson Manor for the next two weeks until the wedding he could not bring himself to go to.  Two days after the wedding he ran into Chloe in the city diner.  He was able to bring himself to ask her why she had married Jason, her response was that she knew he no longer cared for her and she needed to move on.  Jared explained to her that he had never stopped caring for her, but rather felt that she did not care for him.

It was too late for their love to flourish, Chloe was already wedded to another man and she was not able to leave him.  They both were lost for hope as they realized they could never be together.  Months passed as they went their separate ways, and one day Jared once again went for a walk in the forest.  Along the trail he met with Chloe and they began to walk together.  They spent nearly the entire day just talking to one another and enjoying the company of the person they loved.  Despite their tragic separation they had found a way to in some way be together.

They walked together in the woods each day for several hours at a time and they  fell more and more in love and “they shared a single heart” (pg. 303).

Event Critique-Music

1.      What musical event did you attend?

I attended the “Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’” concert performed by the Utah Symphony at the Abravanel Hall.  The songs performed by the symphony were Concerto No. 26 in D Major “Coronation” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat “Eroica” by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

2.      Give a summary or description of the work(s) you heard.

The music I heard at this particular symphony was very moving.  I enjoyed how each piece had different tempos at different times in the music.  I was able to sense the energy in the music as it built from a rather calm and steady pace to one of extreme speed and volume.  It made me think of the ability of the human body to begin from rest and excel to the point of maximum exertion for a short burst of energy that allows them to sprint 100 yards.

I also enjoyed how the music flowed from one movement into the next.  Everything fit together extremely well, just like the pieces of a puzzle, it was almost impossible to tell where one movement ended and another began.  The orchestra was able to stay together so well and never seemed to lose timing.  It was just an overall really amazing musical experience.

3.      Would you say that this was a poor/fair/good/high quality performance?  Why?  Justify your answer.  Did you notice any mistakes or other problems that detracted from the performance?

This was an extremely high quality performance, as one would expect to be given by the Utah Symphony which is a professional orchestra that has many concerts each season.  The musicians were all excellently in sync with one another and they all kept time with the conductor that the music seemed to enchant the mind as it effortlessly flowed from the instruments in the orchestra.  And although there are inevitably, as with any performance, a few mistakes any that were made were covered extremely well and went practically unnoticed.

The music just kept the ears absolutely pleased with sounds that would make any person melt into their seat as they listened to the melodious works of two such famous composers of music, Mozart and Beethoven.  The two contrasting styles of music helped add flare to the performance by giving the audience two types of music to listen to that were both different and similar at the same time allowing for an excellent exploration of the wonders of music.

4.      What did you find out about the background of the works, composers, artists, or others connected with this production?

I learned that the Mozart piece was one of his final three pieces that were written in the year 1788.  The Concerto No. 26 by Mozart was first performed in Dresden in 1789, however it was the Frankfurt performance that was conducted in the year of 1790 that gave the work the nickname of “coronation”, when it was performed at the coronation of King Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor.

What I learned about Symphony No. 3 by Beethoven was that it was originally named “Bonaparte” after Napoleon who was at that point in time nothing more than the First Consul of France.  However, after Napoleon declared himself the Emperor of France in 1804 Beethoven, enraged by Bonaparte’s clear act of tyranny on the French political system, un-dedicated his song to Bonaparte and by the time it was first published in 1806 the symphony was named “Eroica” and was dedicated to Beethoven’s patron Prince Lobokowitz.

5.      What was your personal reaction to this performance?

Overall, this was an extremely well done performance.  The music was an extremely great combination that allowed the ears to simply enjoy the music while being able to notice the slight differences in the different movements of the pieces as well as being able to notice the similarities and differences between the two pieces of works.

The orchestra was kept together extremely well by their conductor, and they seemed to keep time with the music, even when they were involved in a duet with musician Ronald Brautigam, playing the piano.  There were no clear mistakes and any that were made, as it is practically impossible to have a completely mistake free performance were covered extremely well so that the audience was not bothered at all by the problems.

I enjoyed reading about the different pieces in the playbill.  I found it interesting that when Beethoven heard of Bonaparte’s self-appointment as Emperor of France he was enraged enough to un-dedicate the song to him.  In fact, it is often said that he tore the cover page of the score in half and throwing it down in disgust.  I wish it had mention why Beethoven had dedicated the symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte in the first place, but perhaps that is just unknown.

I was also very impressed by the detailed information that was put into the playbill, that really helped me as an audience member to better understand the stories behind the music and to have a greater respect for the composers and their individual works.  It was really a very high quality performance.

6.      Would you recommend this performance or musical group to others?  Why or why not?

I would definitely recommend going to see the Utah Symphony to others.  I absolutely loved my experience with the event, and even with it being my first time at a symphony I was able to understand what music was being played and how the harmonies of the different instruments created an excellent atmosphere that allowed the audience to drift off on a cloud losing track of time and simply enjoying the music.  So I would definitely tell anyone who asked me if they should go see a Utah Symphony performance that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life that allowed me to gain some cultural experience and basically enjoy myself to the highest degree.

7.      Would you enjoy attending this type of event again?  Why or why not?

I would definitely attend another performance by the Utah Symphony.  When I first decided that I was going to go to this event for my assignment I felt almost completely assured that I would be absolutely bored out of my mind, and lost in what was being played.  However, when I actually was taking part in listening to the beautiful music played by the magnificent orchestra I realized that I was actually enjoying myself and listening for the subtle delicacies that the music provided in the slight changes in tempo, volume, and sound, and before I knew it the symphony was over and I was left wanting more.

Selected Poems by Langston Hughes

The general point made by Langston Hughes in his works Dinner Guest: Me; Harlem; Cross; I, Too and Ghandi Fasting is that just because someone is different doesn’t mean that they are worth any less than you are, everyone is equal.  More specifically, Hughes argues that blacks were used as workhorses at one point, and then were hidden away when company came over because they were viewed as an “embarrassment” by those that they worked for.  He writes, “I am the darker brother, they send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong.  Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table.”  (page 594).  In this passage, Hughes is suggesting that while people who are different and oppressed are kept away from everyone else they grow strong in their belief of their equality, and when the time comes they will revolt and turn on their oppressors and everyone will be too afraid to make them stop.  In conclusion, it is Hughes belief that everyone should be treated equally no matter who they are, what they look like, or what they believe in.

            In my view, Hughes is right because we need to be willing to accept those who are different from us, when we oppress them they prepare to turn against us and we will be ashamed of our actions.  For example, in American history as the African Americans were oppressed and forced into slavery and servitude they began to grow tired of the oppression and eventually helped in the effort to create an escape route for slaves and eventually to end slavery.  Even after slavery ended the oppression continued with segregation, and those of other races began to once again grow tired of the hatred they were being subjected to and revolted and helped forward the movement of Civil Rights, which eventually abolished segregation and gave everyone equal rights.  Therefore, I conclude that if we continue to look down upon people because they different than us, even for reasons other than race, we will eventually be forced to realize our mistake and will be completely ashamed for the actions that we have taken against those who are not exactly like ourselves.

The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi

The general point made by William Bradford Huie in his work The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi is that people approve of things that would disapproved being done as long as they are done to people that are different than they are.  More specifically, Huie suggests that because Emmett Till was a black boy and therefore was different than “everyone else” that it was accepted as just and correct that he was killed for simply making a pass at a white woman.  He writes, “Once Roy Bryant knew, in his environment, in the opinion of most white people around him, for him to have done nothing would have marked him for a coward and a fool”  (page 604).  In this passage, Huie is suggesting that because of the culture that Roy Bryant lived in, in which blacks were looked down upon as a lower class of people, that him not going after Emmett for making a pass at his wife would have been seen as inappropriate.  In conclusion, it is Huie’s belief that when people are different than we are we do not give them the same rights that we would give to people that are similar in appearance and behavior to ourselves.

            In my view, Huie is right because we are constantly confronted by people who are different from ourselves, whether in appearance or in beliefs, and we often treat them differently based upon those differences.  For example, for much of our own American history we have shown our intolerance of those who are different from ourselves by looking down upon those people and refusing them many of the rights we give to those like ourselves.  Although Huie might object that this is not true for all cultures throughout the world, I maintain that we are very similar in our biases as humans and we all treat those who our different than we are often rather intolerantly.  Therefore, I conclude that we should all attempt to set aside our cultural and personal biases towards those who are different than ourselves and try to become more willing to accept those differences and realize the benefits of the diversity we have in society.

Reflection Week 15

The story ofTristan really reminded me of the story of Romeo and Juliet.  Two lovers destined to fall in love but unable to be together for reasons beyond their control.  It is the classic tragic tale of lovers who were separated from one another before they even met.  I found myself surprised however, by the fact that unlike Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde did not leave everything they knew behind in a futile attempt to be together, rather, they decided to stay where they were and accept their lives for what they were, choosing honor over love because they felt it was the right thing to do.  Although to many of us this may seem rather strange, it seems to make sense to me that they would choose honor over their love.  It makes sense that they would choose to stay behind with everyone they know, and despite being required to hide their love Tristan and Isolde were able to find time to spend with one another.