Journalism 2 Class luis jennifer mason robert forrest casey caitlin sarah mason lia alexandra luis natalie

Sunday, February 28, 2010


I think that I take a lot of things for granted. Not on purpose, obviously, but just because I get used to having certain things. Sometimes this could be something like having my own car, a roof over my head, a family who loves me and that provides me. Sometimes it is the fact that we have running (and clean) water, indoor plumbing, television, Internet access, and freedom of speech.

One of these things that I am currently taking for granted is school. I know that I am extremely blessed to go to a school like George Fox. I am extremely blessed to come from a family who supports education and supports my quest for further knowledge in a journalism field.

But right now, at 9:55 pm on Sunday night. School. Is. Awful. I have had an extremely busy weekend and just sat down to do my homework--which I thought I didn't have too much of. Turns out that I have two exams, two blog entries, one quiz, five papers, one presentation and 10 chapters of reading to accomplish this week...most of which are due on Tuesday.

I know that I am extremely blessed to be in school and I know that this is one amazing privilege of living in America. We have so many opportunities for school and schooling. I wouldn't trade that for the world. I just do not understand why ALL my professors decided this week would be a good week to pile on the work...

Friday, February 26, 2010


I love the Olympics. It gives the world an excuse to stop for a few weeks and focus on their national pride. We sit and watch citizens of our nation compete for gold and it spurs such pride within us. It's a topic you can discuss with any person walking down the street. It gives us a common bond. I love that.

When Sept. 11 happened, something similar occurred. We all stopped worrying so much about ourselves and we were able to treat each other as neighbors and comfort one another in that tough time. Now, while the Olympics is something to be happy and excited about, it bands us together as people advocating a common cause. The Olympic competitors are our hometown celebrities, and we love to see their faces shining on the fronts of newspapers. It instills loyalty in our hearts.

When our competitors win a medal we scream and jump up and down with excitement. The great thing? You can be assured your neighbors and friends are doing the same thing. We support our nation by watching the Olympics and cheering for those competing.

During those weeks we put our worries on hold. Well maybe not completely, but the Olympics is something that helps pull us out of our rut. Our depression about the economy, finances, and depletion of the Ozone layer is eased just a bit. Our spirits are lifted up and we look forward to the next day of competition.

Maybe I am idealizing the actual situation, but this is the vibe I feel during these Olympic weeks. Support our nation by watching the Olympics and cheering our competitors on to gold.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No silly, hot dogs were not invented by the Pilgrims

My quest: Find the origin of quintessential American food

My tools: The library, Internet, and The American Café in Lafayette

The food: This is my list of American food so far, if you think of some I left out, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

  • Pot Roast
  • Hot Dogs
  • Hamburgers/Cheeseburgers
  • Pizza
  • Bacon
  • Ribs
  • Doughnuts and coffee
  • Milkshakes
  • Fried Chicken
  • French fries
  • Mac-n-cheese

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

America Bashing... Not So Happy

When I remembered that I had to blog I asked all my friends what it means to be an American, and they immediately spurted out all these negative answers! I was a little mad, because regardless of whether what they said was true or not we have too many blessings in America to immediately start complaining. This country isn't perfect, I'm not saying that. We have our fair share of issues, but we also have a lot of things to be grateful for and how can we get so caught up on the bad things that we forget to see all the great things around us. 

I've noticed that lately its been "cool" to bash the states. I can't think of a more lame thing to do. Its fine to have productive discussions about why and how American needs help, but just straight tearing up your own country is lame, especially when you're sitting pretty in the USA. Let's be honest, most people in America have houses and cars, making them richer than a significant percentage of the rest of the world! Really? Really you can't find ONE thing to be grateful for? The first thing you think of is something you think you're lacking?

I'm not saying we should pretend like America has no problems. I am saying you need to recognize your blessing before you start listing the things that bother you.

Government of the People, for the People

I have to wonder with all of the bail out moneys, why Americans who lost their 401k's aren't thought of? I'm not saying we should secure them like a checking or savings account is with the FDIC, but if a company fails or is closed by the Government, there should be something in place to guarantee the moneys invested. If the accounts are losing money it should be based on a current value of what was invested.

I have heard of people losing their retirements, but never understood the cause. In the case of a family member who lost over $120,000, this was brought closer to home and makes me question the policies in place regarding it.

Let me first thank the Government for bailing out banks, the auto makers and all of the bonuses that have been paid out with taxpayer money.

Now let me ask why pay a bonus when you take away a person's investment? How ridiculous is this? This is simply another case of the rich taking care of the rich and chopping the hands that give them their wealth. Is this really how misguided Americas Government is? A rhetorical question does not summons a response.

When a bank is closed by the FDIC, said bank pays off all it's debt. Any outstanding loans can then be purchased from the Government. I have to wonder and I am asking what happens to all the money the Government made from the sale of those loans? Surely they didn't help any of the employees with their 401k's!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Indigenous People

by: Lia

Native Americans are the only ones who can rightfully call themselves American. This was their land until the “white men” took everything from them. We took their homeland, their pride, their lives, and in return we gave them diseases, reservations, alcohol, and casinos.

Native American substance abuse levels are higher than those of any other group and
the death of Native Americans due to alcohol is three times higher than everyone else.

Their propensity to alcohol, that we introduced them to, along with their lack of pride, we stole from them, has lead to a great amount of physical and sexual abuse.

Native American women experience the highest levels of sexual and domestic abuse of any group in the United States.

According to Amnesty International, "Many experts in the movement believe that Native women are raped more often simply because there is very little done to stop it. Tribal courts and tribal law enforcement agencies have not been provided with the resources necessary to provide sufficient protection from sexual assault."

What are we doing to change this?

In a monologue a Native American woman tells her story of abuse, ending with, “They took our land. They took our ways. They took our men. We want them back.”


In·de·pend·ent [ ìndə péndənt ]

by Sarah

Today, we are called to remember not only the day our country was born – we are also called to remember the indomitable spirit of the first American citizens who made that day possible.

We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it. And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall two hundred and thirty-three years ago today.
- Obama's Independence Day Address

Dictionary Definition:

1. not controlled by another: in politics, free from the authority, control, or domination of somebody or something else, especially not controlled by another state or organization and able to self-govern
2. able to function by self: able to operate alone because not dependent on somebody or something else
Each wheel has an independent suspension system.
3. self-supporting: not forced to rely on another for money or support
financially independent
4. showing confidence in self: capable of thinking or acting without consultation with or guidance from others
an independent thinker
5. done without obstruction: carried out or operating without interference or influence from interested parties
an independent investigation
6. sufficient to live on: providing the means on which to live without having to work
independent means
7. politics not affiliated to political party: not belonging to, representing, or supporting any political party
8. mathematics not solvable using solution to another: describes a system of equations in which no single equation is necessarily solved using a solution to the others
9. statistics not affecting other variables: in statistics, distributed in such a way that the value taken on by one variable leaves all others unaffected
10. logic not dependent on axiom or proposition: not proved from another logical axiom or proposition

noun (plural in·de·pend·ents)

1. somebody or something unaffected by others: somebody or something that is free from control, dependence, or interference
2. politics somebody politically unaffiliated: a politician or voter who is not a member, representative, or supporter of any political party

Advertise your Independence with Urban dictionary definitions on:
- Mugs
- T-shirts
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- And more!

Soccer Therapy

So I've decided that I need to develop my soccer skills. Most of the world is crazy about soccer, and the US seems to be one of the only countries that somehow missed the bug. Soccer builds bridges. When you are in a foreign country and have no idea what to talk to people about, soccer is a pretty safe bet. An even better bet would be to find a ball and start kicking it around. Soccer transcends language, culture, and even race.

The other day I was reading in a park on the "wrong side" of town. I don't know who labeled that side of town the "wrong side," but I rather enjoy it over there. There were about 12 Hispanic guys in their 30s and 40s who were kicking a soccer ball nearby. I decided to set my book down and watch them play for awhile. After a few minutes they finished warming up and started setting up goalposts. One of the guys kept looking in my direction. Finally he turned to one of his friends and asked "Invitamos este? Pienso que quiere jugar." His friend shrugged. A few seconds later the guy turned to me and yelled "Hey you! Wanna play?"

It was a great game. And probably the most fun I've had in a long time. I really suck at soccer, but I tried hard, and the guys were forgiving. At the end of the match, we parted ways with smiles on our hearts, and I walked off in the bright sunshine laughing to myself. Maybe I can be a part of healing the racial divide.... one soccer game at a time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Time goes too fast.

That is something I am definitely starting to learn.

With the school year coming to a close in 9 weeks, and my fiancé and I planning our wedding in 2 months (a week after school is out), I am realizing just how fast time seems to go.

But then I look around and see how dependent our country is on time. FAST food, INSTANT messaging, EXPRESS line, FAST lane...

When do we have time to just stop and enjoy the world around us?

We get impatient if we have to wait more than a couple minutes for our food to cook, our gas tank to be filled, the elevator doors to open or the cashier to ring up our merchandise.

Why can't we stop and just enjoy the scenery?

When did life become in the fast lane? When did we decide that EVERYTHING needs to be faster than fast?

I love that school is coming to and end and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I am getting married in 75 days.

But I challenge everyone to stop every now and then and enjoy life. Enjoy our surroundings. Enjoy the beautiful creations that are around us everyday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

America is made up of immigrants.

by Natalie Gould

The United States is made up of immigrants. No one is through and through American, unless of course that person is Native American. We all come from different countries and backgrounds. But that is what makes us American: we represent a variety of cultures. I spent time talking with Roman Kolyvanov, a George Fox student who came to the United States when he was 5. And though he doesn't remember much of his homeland, Russia, he certainly has a unique perspective on America and what it means to call oneself an American. He has learned how to balance his Russian family with his American assimilation.

My family is from Germany, and while I never lived in Germany, I was raised very German. We ate German food, I was disciplined in German, my grandmother told me proverbs in German, I learned how to cook German, we shopped at the German grocery store, and the list goes on. Just because I didn't live in Germany doesn't mean I don't have a sense of what it means to be German. When I travel to Germany it feels like I am surrounded by people similar to me. But at the same time, I am an American because I bring my unique experiences to my peer group. I say the pledge of allegiance with pride and tear up hearing our national anthem.

With Roman and I, we know we are loyal to America and our families love this land so dearly. But we do not forget our roots and we embrace our unique upbringings. We can discuss our cultures and find differences and similarities. These are the sorts of discussions everyone should be having. Be proud of immigrants in your family and recognize the courage it took to leave their homeland and bring you to the land of freedom and opportunity.

Reaching out

My life is an open book. I am willing to share my story, my walk through life. I dream about tomorrow, I hope for a better day.

Life is never quite what we plan. We make choices and take sides in hopes of finding the right path. Some variables are far out of our control. Accidents require surgery, medication to help with healing and recovery. All of my scars, the surgeries, the pain, nothing compares to the headaches and the lingering affects of numerous concussions.

Some days I can wake up ready to go, others I wake up in a fog. Groggy from what feels like too much beer from the night before. But this doesn't get better through the day, I can't sleep it off, that only makes it worse. My vitamin D levels are extremely low which also contributes to my lack of energy.

My body is aged beyond my years from playing hard growing up. In the last few years I've made attempts to fix some of the damage. Two shoulder surgeries, two hand surgeries and injections to relieve bulging discs in my neck. If I were in better shape, the recovery would likely be quicker. But my left shoulder is still loose, my right rotator cuff has a small tear, and the pain in my neck and back is often overwhelming.

I struggle with my weight, it bothers me. A part of me hides behind it, maybe it's a wall of defense. If I choose to run, the weight literally flies off, I've done it and it feels great. I have more energy, my confidence grows as I check the scale every morning. But I find myself wishing I had the energy and the drive to get up and run.

I had stomach surgery in 2001 to repair a Hiatal Hernia. My heartburn was so bad, golfing was uncomfortable. I couldn't go anywhere without my purple pills. Two weeks after that, I couldn't see. Sitting at the eye doctor for almost 3 hours, he finally checked my eye pressures. My left eye was at 52! No wonder it was blood red and half closed. I've been on various eye drops since and have had Glaucoma in both eyes for several years.

I could choose to have more surgery, which of course means more medication. For the better part of 3 years I have been on some sort of pain pill. I take enough as it is with my headaches. But I have decided to wake up. Even so, it’s a slow process. Addiction is difficult to overcome, change is a difficult challenge. I’m on an honor system with myself. Life is here and now, who knows what tomorrow holds.

I’ve never asked for a hand out, but a hand up is greatly appreciated. God’s hands are big, strong and gentle. My faith is undying, His love is never ending.

Monday, February 15, 2010


So I'd like to know...
When did "Immigrant" become a dirty word in this country?
So often I hear the word used in conjunction with complaints about crime that I fear future generations will assume it is synonymous with convict. Modern immigrants are the scapegoats for a variety of ailments concerning our country, from economic crisis to urbanization.

Good ol' boys preach that the minorities of this country will take over with a swift flourish of the sombrero because of the option to press 2 for spanish. Those who make these arguments are sunk in the depths of racist paranoia. According to them, their Mexican co-worker is on the verge of offering a blanket covered in smallpox scabs (hindsight's a bitch, ain't it?). I know that I can't demean someone for trying to make a better life for them self or their loved ones.

We champion the story of Ellis island, but chastise the migrant worker who sends money to his family instead of spending it on a brand new Thunderbird. Very few Americans today can say their family originated in this country. Let us not forget that this land was not God-given, but taken in the name of God.


by: Lia

As a whole Americans seem to be pro-war when it comes to fighting for freedom and that type of thing. After 9/11 when the Iraqi war began you would see people not only flying their American flags, but bumper stickers, t-shirts, and more with “Support the Troops” were everywhere.

The United States government has gotten us into a lot of wars with, and sometimes without, the support of the American people. With a government and a nation being pro-war and about the troops, why are veterans just disregarded?

Let’s get this straight, I’d be hard pressed to think of an instance that war and killing another human being was necessary or appropriate.

I am saying that regardless if you support war, the people fighting it are human beings that come back with great needs. If you do support the troops, then you should support them even after they have fought the war.

Why are there so many veterans (WWII, Vietnam, Iraq) out on the street, drug addicted, and/or with mental illnesses? If we were treating them with half the respect we gave them while they were fighting, perhaps this wouldn’t be the case.

I don’t support war, but I do support the people that have to fight them, even when the fighting has ceased.

Presentation = Success

by Sarah

This week I was working on a website for my parent's church. I found, a church website building program, to be quite the frustrating experience.

After loudly expressing my feelings on the matter to a roommate, I got to thinking about a) What exactly I didn't like about it and b) What a website needs to be successful and c) How presentation in America is everything.

So then,

a) The program is not intuitive or easy to navigate. There are invisible buttons, that do not appear until you scroll over them. Cool effect if you have an artsy website, but not helpful for the technically challenged church goer who was elected manager of the website.

b) In order for a website to be successful it has to have (at least):
- The facts - when, where, what
- Identity - who are these people and what are they about
- Professionalism - is the website clean, well organized, and interesting

c) Today, if you are a company, church or individual wanting business, advertisement, or just to get information out there - Presentation is EVERYTHING. Especially web presentation.

As I was explaining this to my mother, it hit me that this is an American thing. Our culture is driven by presentation. Why else do we have designer brands? Ridiculously priced sports cars? Jewelry stores up the wazoo? And web-building programs (however unintuitive they are) for churches?

But it's not just presentation. You could have a pretty terrible website that presents your business, church or yourself and still not get anymore business or attendants than before. Quality is important.

I would even go so far to say that the quality of the presentation determines the success. It is not longer satisfactory to just have a website - now it has to be cutting-edge, well-done, classy even.

All this to say, all you web designers out there, buff up on your skills, because the presentation of websites is taking the stage in American success.

Democrats And Republican Play Telephone

There once was a game of telephone between 30 people. What started as "Ice Cream" ended as "Beach Ball." This sort of miscommunication is very popular in the political world. For example Props 66 & 67 in Oregon. Watching the public announcements for each side was pointless. They were not even talking about the same thing. My little sister even said that to me. She asked what they were about because one side was yelling "Down with ice cream" and the other was yelling "Up with the beach ball!"

I think what we need to realize is there is not one evil party. Like if you join the Democrats/Republicans you're wicked! No. We need to understand where the other is coming from before we start some march against them. What we of one party are upset about is actually what the other party sees as a justifying means to an end, and getting mad at someone for doing something they believe is right will get you nowhere. They will not want to hear any of what you have to say, you'll embarrass your entire party, and become part of their confirmation bias that everyone in your party is wicked/ignorant.

One would think grown adults could have respectful, peaceful, discussion about change and priorities, but no. They act condescending, gripping their sarcastic remarks to the world through television, magazines, and the internet. No wonder no one wants to switch parties! The other side is just yelling at them telling them they are stupid and ignorant. Positive results are not being found because productive discussion is NOT happening. 

Start seeing things from the other side's perspective and you'll find they are not evil, and you can more effectively talk with them about why your opinion differs on the subject. You'll both learn something, even if that something is just how to talk with a member of the opposite party.

Roots of Racism

Remember your high school cafeteria? Most of the kids who didn't speak English very well sat together, away from everyone else. It was probably the easiest thing for them to do. It takes a lot of courage to interact with people in a language other than your own. Sometimes it's nice to just hang out with people who understand you for awhile.

It was also very easy for the rest of us, who were born into this culture, to let those kids be isolated. It takes a lot of effort to try to understand someone who is so different from you.

So... both groups failed to initiate interactions with the "other," and continued to perpetuate segregation. We all knew in our heads that racism is wrong. In fact, we most likely never thought of ourselves as racist. We were just taking the easy road of non-interaction.

Thinking back, I wish we had done things differently. You see, it is that innocent separation that allows the fear of the "other" to sprout. Why is it so easy to create stereotypes? Why is it so easy to blame the "other" for societal problems that we are all responsible for? If we were to make an effort to engage; if we were to learn to care, we would soon see that all our fears are unfounded. People are people, no matter what the differences. Dare we be different? Dare we step outside of ourselves and extend our hands toward the "other?"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Angry American

Flashbulb memories. I learned about them in Psychology last year. These are the types of memories that are photographic. The ones that you can picture what you were doing, where you were, who you were around, maybe what you were wearing, what you smelt but most importantly, what you saw.

This was one of those memories.

It was my first week at H.B. Lee Middle school. As a new sixth grader I was ready to face the challenges and adventures that middle school brought with it. Maybe this would mean I would meet new cute boys. I would FINALLY get to wear makeup and I chose classes that interested me, not that I was necessarily forced to take.

Because I was new to school, and although my middle school could be seen from almost every location in my house (aka, I walked to school with my sister and my best friend Rachel everyday during middle school. Even in the rain and snow), I insisted upon arriving to school fifteen or twenty minutes to socialize, put things in my awesome blue locker or settle into my seat and wait for Mr. Cosby’s homeroom class to begin.

This day was supposed to be like any other day. Rachel would meet us at our house and the three of us would walk to school together.

Little did we know this day would change America forever.

For today, was September 11, 2001.

I remember standing in my parent’s room next to TV. My dad was in the process of getting ready for work and my mom was sitting on their bed. I had heard their gasps of surprise shock and their hurried conversations and I knew something was wrong.

I looked at the television screen and saw the first tower of World Trade Center in New York City burning. The news stations kept repeating terrorists and a plane hitting the tower.

I remember standing there watching my parents faces but not fully grasping what was happening. I kept thinking to myself “c’mon Ali and Rachel, we have to go or we’ll be late.” Even then I was an overachiever of sorts.

But then I saw the second plane hit and both towers were smoldering, flames lapping at the air.

My parents made us leave for school.

While there, people were crying. Everyone was distracted. Parents were coming to pick their kids up and my classmates were complaining that they should not have to be in school that day.

We watched the towers collapse in class. We saw the people running with covered faces, people crying and bleeding in the streets, begging for help. We heard that a plane had hit the pentagon and another landed in a field somewhere. We heard that America had been attacked.

I was 11 years old.

Nine years later and this tragedy still affects the country deeply. It has led us to war. It has led us to, thank God, stricter measures taken at airports, and a stronger defense in our branches of military.

But what I love about America is that we stand up to opposition. We fight for the fallen. We fight for our freedom. And we don’t lie down and wait for people to roll over the top of us. We are strong nation. We may not always agree with decisions our government makes or injustices we witness, but we are a strong country. A strong FREE country.

Toby Keith sang a song after the tragedy of September 11 called the Angry American.

Some of the most memorable lyrics of this song read,

And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way

So now I ask you...What were YOU doing on 9/11? What are your thoughts on Toby Keith's song?

Do you agree that freedom is not free?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't forget about kids

Because of financial responsibilities and necessity, mom's work outside of the home and dad's work long hours. That may not be the case for some, but for many kids growing up they come home to an empty house. Some have two homes because their parents are separated or divorced. I am part of that as well, having gone through a divorce and trying to maintain a strong relationship with my kids.

I grew up confused because my parents weren't together anymore. I watched my own children go through this same struggle. From my own experiences, I relate to their feelings and recognize what they are going through. Considering what we have gone through, I don't think I could build a stronger relationship with them. They are my best friends, each of them. In their own way, I am touched and blessed to be surrounded by such a good group. I am thankful for them.

My story is all too familiar with how we relate to America. I came from a broken home and repeated the cycle with my own children. It was and is at times heartbreaking. Saying goodbye or not seeing them for a few days. I have already made them lose a part of their childhood, forcing them to think and react to adult problems. I am sad for that, it hurts when I think about it. If I could do anything to help them, it would be to show them and guide them from my own mistakes.

I look at the younger generation of kids growing up and see too many of them growing up too soon. Kids deserve to be kids, to grow up naturally by experimenting, playing and making friends through sports and other activities. If I had the magical answer, I would share it. But I don't, so instead I am asking; how do we let kids grow up in freedom? How can we ensure each child gets the opportunity to grow up and live a happy childhood?

I know for me and my kids, it starts with me.

The Mystery of Vijontest

by: Mason

Howie Mandel. My parents remember him from St Elsewhere, and I remember him from reruns of Bobby's World. You might remember him from NBC's version of Deal or No Deal too. He also did some voice acting for Muppet Babies, which re-ran on Cartoon Network against stiff opposition from Rugrats. No offense Howie, but the production values on Muppet Babies were just too off-putting compared to Rugrats in all its lump-headed glory.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. At 7:37 AM on February 6th, 2010, Mr. Mandel (via Twitter) gave us this description of America: Vijontest. Howie, what does this mean?
I've tried saying it repeatedly with different accents etc, like Mad Gab, spelling it backwards, tsetnojiv, even rearranging the letters (vest joint?). No luck. So I'm going into this blind.

Now I shall endeavor to find a definition of this word.

Possibility #1: A Canadian insult.
As we all know, via Wikipedia, Howie Mandel is Canadian. He currently lives in Los Angeles, but that's only because that's where the show business is. There are tons of Canadians who have made it big in America, and we love them! But I have a sneaking suspicion that they aren't as fond of us as we are of them.

Possibility #2: A Dutch insult.
As we all know, via Wikipedia, Howie Mandel hosted the American and Canadian versions of Deal or No Deal. And, according to Wikipedia, Deal or No Deal is of Dutch origin. The Netherlands is an extremely progressive area, and Vijontest is obviously a Dutch insult, criticizing us for being so conservative. Or at least slow on the uptake.

That's all I have. What do you think Vijontest means?


by: Lia

I don’t know, maybe I see all that the American government lacks and all the negative things that come along with it, because I’m just spoiled.

Like a child that has grown up in privilege, being given almost anything they wanted, and lacking practically nothing, they focus their attention on what little they don’t have…A spoiled brat.

Perhaps I have lived with so much freedom and opportunity that I just take it for granted. Instead of looking at the wonderful things about being an American, and all the freedoms we have, that so many countries in the world only dream of having, I instead choose to look at what is still lacking.

I can’t even comprehend what citizens in other countries go through with a dictatorship and/or no real rights to speak of. There’s obviously a reason why people from other nations flock to America.

We might have a lot of issues we need to overcome, but when I really think about it, we are pretty blessed to have all that we do have.

I think both sides need to be able to look at the merits of each others arguments.
Some people are gung ho about America and believe that what America stands for and what it offers is amazing. That shouldn’t mean you don’t analyze our government and it’s ideals and point out ways in which change needs to occur.

On the other hand, those who disagree with American policy and corruption, need to take a second and see all the amazing things that America has to offer, and realize how fortunate we are to be living in a country that offers freedom and a chance for the people to make decisions.

When I say this, I am talking to myself as much as to anyone else. It’s easy to get stuck on the negative and notice what you don’t have, instead of stepping back and being grateful for what you do have.

A Land of Immigrants

Today's USA has been shaped primarily by Immigrants from Europe. The country's government, constitution, and economic structure all stem from European ideas and ideals. The previous inhabitants of the land had absolutely no say in the country's foundational decisions. Instead, they were systematically killed, or forced to leave. The treatment of Native Americans by European settlers fully conforms to the current UN definition of genocide. They were not given citizenship and voting rights until 1924, and those rights were not fully enforced until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

With this history of immigration in mind, today's immigration issues take on a rather different light. As kids we were taught to be proud of our immigrant past, and the atrocities that our forefathers committed were not dwelt on. We were told that we live in a land of opportunity, where anybody can make it big... especially poor penniless immigrants. We were told that we live in a melting pot of cultures (though many today prefer to call it a salad or a stew), with all the world represented by our one single nation. We were told we live in the greatest country on earth. So... what's with all the hysteria these days about immigration? In recent years, this has become one of the most heated debates in the nation. There is a lot of anger surrounding this issue, particularly towards Mexican immigrants. Why are we who are so proud to be the descendants of pioneers so adamant about refusing to allow any more people in to our country? Isn't our stance a tiny bit hypocritical?

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring the issue of immigration a little more in depth, examining questions about racism, fear, nationalism, etc. I will also be interviewing several people with differing points of view on the subject.

It's not always as happy as we make it seem.

by: Natalie

**This is a generalized statement and does not apply to each and every American.

While being an American comes with endless advantages (um freedom anyone?), they sometimes seem to get overwhelmed by our greed and selfishness.

This country was founded on the hard work, diligence, and perseverance of many men and women; many of whom are not even in our history books. They sacrificed and risked their lives and liberty to protect ours. But do we think about this as we sit comfortably in our recliner watching the Super Bowl in our warm, safe homes? Why does it often take an American flag and the national anthem to get us to stop and think about our freedom?

I have traveled to many countries across the world, and the general consensus is that Americans are fat, greedy, and very ego-centric. How did this stereotype come to be? Why do citizens of other countries put up a guard when Americans visit their towns? How did we impress them so negatively that they harbor hurt and even anger toward us? We feel entitled that what's yours is ours, and we are better than you because we don't live under an oppressive government. This may not be our conscious attitude, but this is the impression we have made on the world.

We expect things immediately and cannot be bothered with inconveniences. We have things to do and could not be inhibited by helping someone out on the street. Our tasks are the most important things in the world today. No need to worry about hungry nations, contaminated water, or kids who go to school without shoes. We just read the headlines, give a quick flinch of a sad emotion, and continue on to Starbucks to buy our $4 latte. This is America, this is how we demonstrate our privileged citizenship day after day.


by: Casey

We need to speak up! Stand up for what we believe in! Speak out against them!

I’ve been urged to do all of the following since I can remember. History curriculum urges the young, budding American to exercise their guaranteed right of expression. I am given examples of forefathers who deliberately wrote this freedom into the cement of this country’s foundation.

The government cannot condemn me for what I choose to say. This is great.

But when it comes to other citizens…well…

When I refuse to unite behind a war I deem unjust, I am accused of being unpatriotic.

When I ask why incarceration rates amongst black males are much higher than any other race, I am diagnosed with white guilt.

When I support universal health care, I am a socialist.

When I affirm my religious beliefs, I am a misguided fundamentalist.

You get the picture.

I ask: what good is freedom of speech when citizens are frothing at the mouth to condemn?

America: Love It Or Leave It

by: Alexandra

Why do people love to say this, and other people hate the very thought of it? (Stereo)Typically the difference between people who love it and people who hate it are divided between Republicans (who love it) and Democrats (who hate it.)

Forgive the fact that I am grouping large peoples together. As my disclaimer I will say that these groups are not always accurate. There are always exception, in fact I am one. That being said:

Democrats. They (stereo)typically hate this phrase. The way they see it is an attitude of "Why do I have to leave? Why can't I live in American but admit that we have our issues. If everyone that did not love every bit of America left it, and moved elsewhere, where would our hope of growth be? How would we change what isn't perfect? And nothing, including America, is perfect."

Republicans. They (stereo)typically love this phrase. Their attitude is "Why sit around and complain all day about something you can fix? No one is forcing you to stay here, and no one wants to hear you complain, especially when you have so much. Thanks in much part to the country you live in."

Unfortunately those are two separate arguments and (hypothetically) when members of these two parties try and solve this matter they wind up just waiting for the other to shut up so they can say their half. Neither is really listening, and neither is really responding. Both are just talking at walls.

So let me see if I can unfold the miscommunication.

Republicans (stereo)typically have a family-tie to the United States. You talk bad about it, that is like talking bad about their mother. America is recognized by many Republicans as having given them nearly everything they enjoy at no small price. The "Love it or leave" attitude is provoked when someone sits down at their kitchen table and starts badmouthing their mother. "You don't like my mom? Why would I tolerate you sitting here, in my house, saying stuff like that? Get out."

Its that family tie. You can talk to your brother about how annoying your mom can be. That is just fine, but if your neighbor tries to join in, they have crossed a line, if a sibling only has bad things to say about mom then they are annoying and ungrateful, and if a sibling runs to a neighbor and starts talking trash they have betrayed the family.

There are extremes on both ends. Some Republicans really do not want to hear about any of America's negative aspects, and some Democrats really do hate America, but I think those extremes need special help and should not be taken seriously, or as a representation of an entire party.

So you, non-extremist, open to correction, and open to listen person. I am talking to you. Try and see where the members of the opposing party are coming from whenever you discuss something with them. If a mutual respect is not had then a discussion is not had. All you have is two people talking at each other and that leads nowhere.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do we NEED it? or WANT it?

by: Jenny

There are many things I love in life. I love God. I love country music, stepping on pine cones and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I have a fiancé who I love very much, and the best friends and family a girl could ask for.

I love that I am free. I love that in America, we are free. I love the privileges that we have here and the ability to be or become whoever we would like. I love the opportunities of America.

Sadly, I think a lot of people (myself included) can take these freedoms and privileges for granted. Maybe not all the time, but at least occasionally.

One example is our (Americans) use of media.

First, can you imagine this? Ask yourself, "How many times have I checked my cell phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Myspace today? This week? This month?"

Now imagine living life without those forms of media, like in some countries.

As whole, America revolves around media and Americans seemingly, are obsessed with media consumption.

But that isn't the only thing some Americans take for granted.

What about clean water or water at all?
What about food?
What about clothes?
A roof over our heads?
A bike?
A car?
A new wardrobe?

There are so many people in the world that do not have any of these things.

As an RA I had to spend a week backpacking in Sisters, Oregon. With no cell phone. No Internet. No TV. No bathroom. Over the week, I learned to really appreciate these things.

Especially indoor plumbing.

We are so blessed in America to have so much, but this is something so many people seem to take for granted. What if we were a country with barely any clean water? What if we were in a country that we were only able to live off a dollar a day? Could we do this? Could we give up these luxuries? Could we possibly imagine passing up the daily coffee or not buying those jeans that you already have three pairs of?

I challenge you, Americans, to think of this next time you are at the store. Next time you see something that you absolutely "CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!" Because honestly, you can.

Give to others.
Serve others.
We have the power and the resources to do so.

It just takes one to cause a change that has the power to affect millions worldwide.

Use the freedoms and privileges guaranteed to us through the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.

Stand up for what you believe in.
Stand up for things you deem as unfair or unjust.
Stand up and speak for those without a voice.

America, we have so much--sometimes too much. It is time to give a little back both domestically and internationally.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Would America still be America without War?

by: Sarah

I'm driving through town and I see an American flag at half mast. Why? The word on the street is that a soldier died today. Someone local. There is a sense of mourning and heaviness in those words. Even if I didn't know him, I feel this loss.

How many bumper stickers have you seen on the topic of war. Cafepress has 38,800 war related bumper stickers for sale. When was the last time you bought a newspaper that didn't have at least one article on the topic of war? Google "Support our troops merchandise" This is making money. One website even has a "Patriotic Gazebo Decorating Kit"

What would happen if ever our country wasn't at war? There is so much time and money spent on war endeavors from the national level to little jelly bracelets saying, "Support our Troops". Where would all that money go? What would we do with all that time and energy? Is war at the heart of America?

John Lennon sang "All we are saying, is give peace a chance" . But what if we actually did? Brush aside all those doubts of if that could ever happen and think about it for a moment. We have such a momentum on the topic of war. What if that topic no longer existed. What would we talk about? Write about? Make bracelets and gazebo decorating kits about?

Would we need to redefine "America"? What would you say?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Is America Lost? * needs links put back in *

by: Robert

I often wonder what it would have been like to grow up in America prior to World War II. Our country seems to have lost a lot of its swagger and national pride in the last few decades. To blame the fallout and social changes on the Vietnam War seems a little far-fetched. Was there a rush to volunteer for the Korean War? Not like our country witnessed in every other time of conflict in our nation's history.

I vividly remember watching the news as I got ready to go to work on September 11th. "Breaking News, a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center." I watched in disbelief, asking myself "How could this happen?" Then, another plane crashed, and my thoughts instantly went to Terrorism!

Did we as a nation come together as America did after Pearl Harbor? Possibly, but it didn't last long. Why? President Bush did what we all hope to do, he made a plan and stayed true to his beliefs. He never waffled in his stance and looked forward; always keeping the end clear in his mind (I will side with him on many issues, regardless of how unpopular they are). But somehow, he became the focus of the country's anger.

Our nation has lost sight of why America engaged in a war - two wars, for that matter. Many of us seem to have forgotten about the Twin Towers falling and the loss of so many innocent lives. We have forgotten that Osama Bin Laden has been a thorn in our side for many years, and that this was not his first attack on America.

Men and Women of our country have bravely paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives in the spirit of Freedom while the rest of us sit back and take it for granted. What will it take to unite our country? I hope we don't have to witness another attack on Pearl Harbor.

Thinking of "America" *

by: Sarah

Say the word, "America". What comes to mind? Perhaps the age old symbols; the American flag, the White House, Uncle Sam, or Abraham Lincoln. Do you think of colors? Red, white and blue; the new "green" America? What about the current "hot topics" in politics? Fast food? Fashion? The President? Whatever it is, we all have some definition of America. Here's mine:

My immediate reaction is a pain in my heart and a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. This likely stems from the first word I associate with "America": Politics. To be quite frank with you, I cringe every time I hear that word. Politics. At some point, I will expound on these feelings, but for now, just note that it is not a welcome subject.

Next, I think of the beginnings of America. Stories of great leaders, freedom, and cowboys. I remember stories from my childhood of Indians, bravery, and new beginnings. My heart gets all warm and fuzzy.

Finally the thought that comes to me is the state of America today, and how that defines the future. What does America look like? What have we done right? Wrong? Previous decisions and choices have dictated the present America; what choices are we making now that will shape the story for our children and grandchildren? Many questions come to mind; the biggest of them being: Is America today what it was meant to be at the beginning; a place of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?

Or has America gone out to sea?


by: Forrest

Perhaps I should begin by admitting to the fact that I fully benefit from all of the good things America has to offer its citizens (especially its white citizens). I have received a quality education, a drivers license, health benefits, food stamps, police protection, etc. etc. I will not deny that there are some awesome things about this country, and that I am glad to live it. It is a place where people can believe pretty much whatever they want to. I can go to my little Quaker church as much as I want with no fear of being arrested. I can criticize the government with no fear of losing my head. Since I am a white male from a comfortable family, I can be pretty much whatever I want to be in this country.

However, I cannot and will not claim that America is a country without fault, or that it is better than other countries, or even that it is better than most. There is no arguing the fact that America is the dominant superpower in today's world, both economically and militarily. What is arguable, is whether or not that is a positive thing. Our concept of Manifest Destiny has allowed us to justify our current status of world domination, but the truth is, we are no better than anybody else.

There are two ways of being an American. You can be patriotic, or you can be nationalistic. Patriotism is the love of one's country and the people in it. Nationalism is the concept that one's own country is the best in the world and that everyone else should either bow to it, join it, or get out of the way. I am a patriot. I am not a nationalist. Nationalism has been the cause of way too much bloodshed to be a good thing. This blog is about challenging it.

What Does It Mean to be an American Today?*

by: Alexandra

You can do whatever you like. American dream. If you like making doughnuts, you can open a doughnut shop and live happily ever after. Impractical? Extremely. But the American mentality will tell you that anything is attainable, and all you need is the willingness to work hard. I do not want to be the one to crush this dream, but in reality, it is far-fetched. But maybe that is what America is; a country of open doors, a million opportunities... Maybe that is why all of the other countries tend to think America is so bratty. We have so much opportunity it's ridiculous. Although we might feel lost and hopeless at times, we never REALLY feel the impending fear that so many who live in poverty do. A sense of security makes people lazy.

I recently decided to count all my blessing, as a way of thanking God and keeping myself from being selfish. I have since realized that I am disgustingly rich. My roommate moved out, so now I can use her closet, and I have 3 closets full of clothes. I have two beds in my dorm room and two beds in my bedroom at home. I have 4 beds that I can sleep in anytime I feel like it. I have two places to live; a dorm and a house. I have the opportunity to use makeup to make myself look "extra" good, whereas many people in other countries do not even have enough clothes. The Bible says God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or think, and I have that, much thanks to America and to God. And what did I do all of high-school? I whined that people didn't treat me the way I wanted, whined that I couldn't buy everything I wanted, whined that I wasn't pretty enough, and whined that my cellphone didn't hook up to the internet fast enough. The fact that I even spent time thinking about those things makes me a whole lot richer than a very significant percent of the world.

So what does it mean to be American? Or at least, an average American teenager?
To have much... and expect more.