Tuesday, November 16, 2010

N for No Thanks!

I received a letter from Community College last week. Since I wasn’t expecting anything from them, I immediately tore it open and my eyes quickly began to devour the words. As a result of my outstanding GPA and superior academic achievement, I was being offered the special opportunity to enroll in an upcoming honors level English course.

Since I don’t need another English class, at least not another research writing course, and the class is at a time that won’t work for me, I’m gonna pass. However, I finished reading the letter anyway. I was informed that I can ask any instructor of any class to give me honors level work. Apparently all that’s required is a special form from the registration office and the instructor’s permission. Interesting.

You might be thinking, as was I, why would I willingly ask instructors to give me more work? Except, of course, to pad my transcript with honors classes, which I assume are supposed to somehow look better. The thing is I’m only seven classes away from finishing my associate’s degree. Had they caught me a few semesters ago, I might have considered a few honors classes. But, now? Well. Now I’m just a little too smart to ask for more work and/or harder work just for the sake of making me look a tad bit better on paper. Apparently that is not the only reason one takes honors classes though…

The letter went on to say that taking honors level courses would provide me with more of a challenge. Oh, okay. I see it now. I’m apparently too smart for Community College, lovely reader. I wonder what tipped them off. Is it the fact that my GPA has been a solid 4.0 for over a year? It took them long enough to notice. And while I am a perfectionist, apparently I am not an overachiever, because I’m not buying into the “honor” bestowed on those who abuse challenge themselves with honors level courses. Perhaps in a bachelor’s or master’s degree setting, sure, but for an associate’s degree? Really? I don’t think so.

Community College doesn’t seem to understand that they are just a means to an end for me. I need to get my associate’s degree done efficiently (and cheaply) and they meet that need. Once I have what I want from them, I’m done. On to bigger and better things.

Community College has either seriously overestimated my motivation or underestimated my common sense. Why would I put my flawless GPA on the line just to have the words “honors level” appear a few times on my transcript? I can’t imagine that it would give me that much of an edge when applying for a bachelor’s program. I’d think a high cumulative GPA is good enough.

But, perhaps that’s the problem; I’m fine with just good enough. At least for right now, where my associate’s degree is concerned. I mean, really, is the college I transfer to going to look at a 3.6 GPA where the transcript notes some honors courses and think it’s that much better than my 4.0 GPA without honors courses? Is there that much of a difference? I really don’t think so.

As far as being challenged? I think I have been, and continue to be, challenged just enough. Thankyouverymuch! And, because I just recently registered for spring semester classes, I can say with confidence that next semester will be a challenge. Sure there have been some courses along the way that haven’t been very challenging, or riveting, or really felt worth my time at all, but I viewed them as a necessary evil. I don’t think taking them as honors level courses would’ve made them any better.

With only two regular courses—statistics and creative writing—left to take after spring semester, assuming all of the classes I’ve registered for work out this spring (more on that later), I won’t be asking for permission to take honors courses anytime soon. I guess that ship has sailed. I’ll have to be satisfied with the fact that Community College apparently thinks I’m too smart for them.

I know that sounds incredibly arrogant, but that’s really all I can take away from the letter. I mean; I’ve taken four semesters of classes, and they just now caught on to the fact that I could maybe use a challenge?! Seriously?! I can say with confidence that I’ve definitely felt challenged, even if the only challenge presented with certain classes was the shear amount of work assigned. And as I try to fit seven classes (well, five classes and two competencies) into the next two semesters in order to be finished with my associate’s degree on time to start the bachelor’s program in the fall, I have a feeling that there will be no lack of challenge or frustration.

Thanks, but no thanks, Community College. You can take your honors courses and shove them. I’ll keep my 4.0 GPA (or as close to it as I can manage)!

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Friday, November 5, 2010

I for I believe...

GAH! I am so frustrated lately, lovely reader. The recent election has me all in a tizzy. Now decency and politeness dictate that one should never discuss politics or religion if she wants to keep friends, but I’m going to throw caution to the wind today and focus on politics for a moment.

I seriously cannot believe the close-mindedness that exists in the world today. Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Liberal, I really don’t care. I can find viewpoints I understand and/or agree with from either party. I personally think we need to get away from the two-party system and back to “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I tend to fall more Democrat/Independent/Liberal. What I can’t stand, and what scares me the most, is the Tea Party. Some Conservatives/Republicans even say that the Tea Party is bat shit crazy! To me, that is definitely cause for concern.

So you can imagine my disgust and outright sadness over the fact that my state nominated a tea partier, Michele Bachman, to represent us in Congress. Yes. People actually went out and voted for a woman, who’s said out loud:

"Little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and perhaps they should try it."
( Interview with Jan Markell, Olive Tree Ministries.)

“Normalization (of gayness) through desensitization. Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is to take a picture of ‘The Lion King’ for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?’ The message is: I’m better at what I do because I’m gay.”
(Speaking at EdWatch National Education Conference, November 6, 2004.)

"That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress, and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions."
(As a pro-lifer, she completely missed the irony of using the same slogan as the pro-choice movement in arguing against health care reform.)

She’s also said, “not all cultures are equal,” and, “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." She urged her supporters to vote for her so that, together, they “can take back our freedom!” But, her definition of freedom is quite skewed. Freedom to Michele Bachman means freedom from government control (funny that she’d even want to be a part of the government she hates so much) and taxes, but it does not include the freedom to decide who you will marry. If you’re a woman, Michele Bachman’s version of freedom also doesn’t allow you to make decisions regarding your own body as she wants to ban abortion.

Women who voted for Michele Bachman, or any other tea partier for that matter, are an affront to all women. I realize that saying you’ve betrayed your gender is using strong language, and that it might sound a bit harsh, but that’s how strongly I feel about a woman’s right to choose. I am completely and totally appalled that another woman would even conceive of denying such an important right to other women, and I cannot believe that women would so willingly vote to give up that right. Whether or not you have or would have an abortion isn’t the issue, the issue is that it is an individual woman’s right to choose—not the government’s, not the religious right’s, not the fetus’—it is a woman’s right to choose. We must never allow that right to be taken away.

I fear for the future of our country if the tea party does in fact take it over. I am not at all joking when I say that I will leave this country if that happens. I realize that nowhere is perfect, and that I’ll likely have my fair share of complaints and problems in Germany, Australia, Canada, or any number of other places, but I refuse to live under the tea party’s fascist regime.

I don’t want to live in a country surrounded by heavily reinforced, tightly guarded walls simply because my country’s leaders believe we need to protect ourselves and our country from evil immigrants. We seem to forget that this country was founded on immigration. And let’s not forget that walls don’t only serve to keep people out; they also keep people in. I refuse to be trapped; forced to live under totalitarian rule, under the guise that it’s for my own protection. I don’t want to live in a country in which the government denies basic civil rights to certain citizens simply because they were born to love a person of the same sex as themselves. And I most certainly don’t want to live in a country in which governing law is based upon Christianity, which of course dictates that life is life, and as such, my uterus and its contents are subject to their “protection” instead of my choice.

Instead of railing on about how much I hate the tea party, and fear for my country’s future, perhaps it would just be easier if I tell you what I do believe.

I believe that this country was not founded on Christianity, and as such, should not be run based on Christian principles and values. Our forefathers came to America to escape religious persecution, and as such, our government isn’t, and should never be, based upon one singular religion. There is a reason that separation of church and state exists, and we need to keep it that way. I’m all for religious freedom. You practice whatever religion you want in whatever way you want to, but keep your religion out of my government and away from my body.

I believe that marriage, and all of the rights and protections it affords, is a basic civil right. Two consenting adults, of appropriate age and sound mind, should be allowed to unite in a legally binding marriage regardless of their sexual orientation. If you want to keep those marriages out of your church, that’s fine. You still cannot stop the government from denying basic civil rights to its citizens. Again, you are entitled to your beliefs, but you are not allowed to force them upon others. Don’t like or want gay marriage? Don’t have one!

I believe that we are all responsible for paying our fair share in taxes, and that it is the government’s responsibility to allocate those funds appropriately. I don’t particularly enjoy paying the portion of taxes that goes towards funding public schools. I don’t have children, nor do I plan to, so I don’t get my money’s worth out of those services. However, I realize that educating our children is important to our future, so I’m okay with some of my taxes going towards education.

I would like to know what services Republicans/Conservatives are willing to give up in order to lower our taxes. Should we give up the paving of roads? Police and emergency medical services? Fire departments? Oh, I know! We should cut social services, because that is the one thing that doesn’t personally impact you; am I right?

I believe that people are generally good, honest, and want to be contributing members of society. Contrary to the disgusting belief that poor people live off the government by choice, because they’re just worthless and lazy, I understand that some people need a little help now and then. Call me na├»ve, but I don’t think most people are content to just laze around, living off of others. Most people who utilize social services do so as a means of bettering themselves and their lives; they in no way intend it to be a permanent solution.

I’m okay with my taxes going towards providing food, shelter, and medical services to those who need it. I’m thankful that those services were available to my twenty-four-year old mother when she found herself unable to feed her three young children on her own because the little money she made at her retail job went towards daycare and rent. Many people seem to think that the government shouldn’t spend our tax money on social programs, because charities can meet the needs of the unfortunate. That simply isn’t true. My youngest sister contacted a few charities to try to get help feeding her and her toddler and paying for housing while she was temporarily jobless, and she was denied services because she didn’t fit the criteria; she apparently wasn’t poor/needy enough. If being a jobless single mom isn’t poor enough, I don’t care to know what is.

I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. It is shameful that the richest country in the world doesn’t make sure that all of its citizens have access to basic medical care. It’s deplorable that the health care industry focuses more on the almighty dollar than on taking care of people. The system needs to change.

I believe that hate speech/crime, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination legislation wouldn’t be necessary if people would accept that we’re all different, and that’s okay. No one is better than anyone else simply because their privilege afforded them the opportunity to be born white, or male, or middle class, or rich, or in the good old U S of A. People who had the “misfortune” of being born gay, or black, or female, or to low income or uneducated parents are not lesser people, and we shouldn’t treat them like second class citizens. We are all people regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation, and as such, we deserve certain rights under the constitution. No one should have to suffer chronic discrimination or hatred or torture simply because they are deemed by someone else to be different.

I believe that rational and logical thought, scientific evidence and facts, and education are key to making informed decisions. Voters carry a big responsibility, and you do yourself and others a great disservice by voting purely based on emotions or on what your church or others tell you to believe. Knowledge is power! Educate yourself on the issues, and make informed decisions based on your principles and morals. Morality and God do not go hand-in-hand; nonbelievers know and understand right from wrong too, and most of us are generally good no matter where our morals and principles came from.  If your morals and principles happen to match your religion or church’s, well I guess that’s pretty convenient; however, your way is not the only way and your beliefs are no more right or valid than anyone else’s.

I believe that abortion is a woman’s health issue, and it is a woman’s right to choose what is best for her. A small amount of women making poor choices (i.e. using abortion as birth control) does not mean we should take the right to choose away from all women. Women get abortions regardless of whether or not it’s legal, regardless of the risk to their lives or health, regardless of the morality of abortion, and regardless of what the fetus may or may not be. When abortion wasn’t legal, women still found ways to end their pregnancies, and unfortunately some of those methods were dangerous and ended in women dying. That is not okay, and we can never go back to that.

The life of a fetus is a subjective matter. One must first get life—i.e. be born—to have a right to life. Fetuses are different from born human beings in prefunds ways; the most fundamental of which is that a fetus is totally dependent on a woman’s body to survive. She is the only one who can keep it alive; therefore, she is the one who gets to make the choice on whether or not to carry her pregnancy to term. A fetus doesn’t have the right to use the woman’s body against her will. Can we force people to donate organs to keep others alive? No; we can’t, because only living, breathing, viable human beings have rights.

Many times, the decision to abort isn’t made from the perspective of not wanting the child, but rather knowing that one cannot provide a decent life for that child. I know women who’ve had abortions and women who’ve given their children up for adoption, and the women in the latter group are far more psychologically troubled over their decision than women in the former group, because there is more finality and closure to abortion than there is for adoption. I am sadder for all of the unwanted children living in orphanages in this world, wishing to be adopted into families, than I am for the potential children that were lost to abortion.

That’s right; I said potential children. That’s what a fetus is: a potential human life. Just as a 16 year old boy can’t walk into a bar and legally be served alcohol simply because he’s a “potential 21 year old,” we don’t extend rights, including the right to life, to a fetus simply because the potential for life exists.

Yes, I understand that it is oftentimes partially the woman’s fault for becoming pregnant, but in cases of rape it is not. For those who believe that abortion is a viable alternative only in cases where the victim was raped, I’d ask why it’s only in those cases that the mother’s life and choice is more important than a fetus’.  What gives you the right to decide that abortion is only appropriate in certain situations? Again, I say that this very private choice belongs in the hands of women.

I’d also argue that keeping our women uneducated, by not allowing comprehensive sex education in schools, further decreases her fault in accidentally getting pregnant. If she didn’t know how to prevent it, she can hardly take all of the blame for it. It is a proven fact that comprehensive sex education decreases pregnancy—especially teenage pregnancy—and does not increase the likelihood that a teenager will have sex. If we want to decrease abortions, we could start with teaching comprehensive sex education in our schools, but we cannot completely remove abortion as an option. Once again, if your religion, principles, or morals dictate that abortion is wrong, don’t get one, but you cannot take that choice away from women who do not hold the same beliefs as you.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, I’m spent! If you’ve hung in there and read this whole post, you’re awesome and I thank you for indulging me. I am open to your thoughts and opinions, even if you don’t agree with me. As I said before, knowledge is power. I am open to hearing points of view that differ from my own, because you never know when you just might learn something. Don’t be afraid to start the dialogue by commenting below. I’m a big girl; I can take whatever it is you have to say to me. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

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