Thursday, October 30, 2008

Growing Up

At a family dinner the other day, I spent some time conversing with my grandparents. As always, I got another "back in the day" story followed by a "you don't know how lucky you are". It's crazy to think about the differences in growing up now and growing up back when my grandparents did. It seems to me that as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier to get older, and people take longer and longer to grow up (mentally).

When my grandpa was slightly older than I am now, he was back in Russia, at war. He lost his sister and his father in the war, and his mother died soon after from disease. I realized that he was forced to grow up and become entirely independent at the age my brother had gone off to college to party and prepare for his adult life. It really makes me think about the "you don't know how lucky you are" statement. My problems and stressers as a kid now are nothing compared to the obstacles my grandparents and even my parents had to overcome. They were Jews in Europe during World War II. They had to fight to survive, which is significantly more strenuous than getting a bad grade on a test. Obviously, some of their problems I can relate to because they're human nature, and they carry on generation after generation. As I'm growing up, I realize that it's necessary to keep an open mind and look at the world from a variety of perspectives. As I learned in brain studies, every individual perceives information differently, so stepping into their shoes isn't the worst idea to try to understand where they're coming from.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Somber Topic

Poverty. It's a topic so often discussed, yet never really understood. In almost all parts of Africa, there is ongoing poverty and living conditions are brutal. Of course, it exists almost in all other places as well, but it seems to be the worst there. When I see a homeless person on the streets in America, my heart extends out to them, but watching movies such as Hotel Rwanda or Last King Of Scotland really makes me wonder if American poverty can truly be considered poverty. Yes, life is difficult for all poor people, but do the people in America live anywhere near the level of poverty seen in Kenya or Ghana?

Both sides of the argument have valid support, but I believe that if one is educated about Africa, they will soon realize that American poverty is nothing compared to that. In America, the percentage of unemployment and homelessness are minuscule compared to Africa's. People there have no choice, their government is corrupt, and any aid we may send them will get intercepted and taken away by the "African Big Men". Here, those individuals suffering from poverty have the choice of applying for a job, even if it's minimum wage. Most of the people we see on the streets are either dropouts who chose not to receive a minimal education, or people that already don't have much money, and spend all he/she has drinking or smoking his/her lives away. Especially now, with the American economy, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, it's going to be difficult for these people to find jobs, but it seems to me that they are the ones responsible for their even greater oncoming troubles.

Obviously, I think poverty needs to be looked into more than it already is, because there are people all over the world, living on the dirty, unsanitary streets. In the past year, my high school has gotten a new fitness center, new wings added onto the school, plasma TV's in the student center, a much more modernized cafeteria, etc. while some high schools in the inner city of Chicago don't have simple items such as books or desks. Isn't there something wrong with this picture? The government isn't playing its part in distributing money evenly to provide a decent education for students everywhere. The more educated we make our young people, the more efficient of a generation they will become. Poverty in America, I believe, could easily be resolved if those experiencing it would be willing to put in some effort. Africa, on the other hand, will take much longer to stabilize.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Soldier beating

I was looking through Yahoo! news stories as I always do, and I came across this article. It was such an eye-opener because people seem to think racism is gone, but here's solid proof that it isn't. It's not even surprising that it happened in the southern states, where American racism originated and was always strongest.

I can connect to this especially because this soldier was beaten because of his religion, Judaism. First of all, that's politically incorrect. Second, I'm Jewish myself, so I'd go as far as saying that this is really frightening to me, because there are still people in this world that want to discriminate against people just like me. Judaism is a sensitive topic for me because I believe strongly in it, and when I hear anything against it, I get really offended. People don't realize the extent of the hardships the Jews have had to face, and it's amazing how we've pulled through and kept our faith alive.

Although religious conflicts occur every day all over the world, I still think there's hope that one day, people will be able to look past these differences. I'm no hippie but having peace doesn't sound all too bad at the moment. Our world would be in a much better state, overall.