Speak the Truth #3

This might possibly be my favorite quotation of all time, even though there are parts with which I don’t agree.

“Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man. And now the forces marshaled around the the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of a man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”

– John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Speak the Truth #2

“Empowerment is often made to sound as if it’s an ideal; it’s a wonderful outcome. When we talk about empowerment we often talk about giving people access to materials, giving them access to tools, but the thing is, empowerment is an emotion; it’s a feeling. The first step to empowerment is to give yourself the authority, the key to independent will.”
– Meera Vijayann

Speak the Truth #1

“The intellectual drifted to the Metropolis and our politics were childish from lack of his criticism.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

This quotation was from almost a century ago, but it still rings true to this day. I’m afraid it will always ring true, especially in America. This quotation marks the start of a new series on my blog, “Speak the Truth.” It will be a series of quotations that are both true as well as dear to my heart. I hope you all enjoy!

Entering the World of the Affluent Child | Camp Kailina

“Camp Kailina” has come and gone, and I’ve discovered something strange. Rich kids don’t like child’s play.

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There are obvious pros and cons of this. I’m a big fan of treating kids like adults because then they grow into adults, instead of big children. However, that philosophy has more to do with how you talk to children and what you expose children to. The kids I was working with were almost the opposite of this. You couldn’t talk to them like adults because they fundamentally couldn’t understand, and their exposure to anything is almost nil. However, the one thing they had been exposed to was their parents frantic behavior.

A common problem with affluent families is their tendency to think that everyone lives like them and, consequently, that their lives are incredibly important. The women I work for don’t work. Yet, they can’t find the time to do anything for their children. Laundry, cleaning, and cooking are impossible tasks to fit into their “busy” schedule. They just “can’t find the time anywhere in the week.” It baffles me because they don’t work, and when I’m there they go shopping, or out to lunch with their friends, or even take naps. So, what do they do with their time? I couldn’t tell you, honestly. What I can tell you is that this attitude is negatively rubbing off on their children.

During what has come to be called “Camp Kailina,” I tried to have days packed of fun activities. Activities that I, as a child, loved more than anything else. From swimming at the beach, to playing at the playground, to story time at the library, to baking, to flying kites, I wanted to do it all with these children because I know that they don’t get that sort of play time normally.

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Cooking homemade doughnuts.

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The finished product.

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Building fairy houses on the beach.

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Building forts in the park.

Flying kites by the sea.

Flying kites by the sea.

Yet, with each of the activities came resistance. I heard over and over during Camp Kailina that “I don’t know how to do that,” and “Trying is too hard.” Excuse me? Trying is too hard? I see this attitude with everything be it writing, drawing, fort building, kite flying, or anything else ever — if they don’t know how to do it already, they don’t want to do it. Plus, once I got them to try each of these activities, it only held their attention for at most thirty minutes.

When we would get home from our morning of activity, they had time to themselves for some independent play. What I saw was unbelievable to me. They pretended to be on iPhones and ran around like their heads were cut off yelling, “So much to do! So much to do!” But they never actually did anything. They just kept running around pretending to text. It was absurd. They were like miniature versions of their parents.

Now, I’m sure some will say that this is an issue across all classes these days, but I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. This is an issue with the Upper Middle and Upper classes. I work with lots of children who don’t fall into these subsets of society, and they are nothing like this. They will play all day building forts in the woods, play hide and seek, building fairy houses, etc. It makes it seem like the lower classes have more of an imagination as children than the upper classes. I far prefer working with lower class children because they really are eager to learn, and they’re smart. I want to cultivate that in them. Every wealthy child I’ve ever worked with has little imagination, little desire to learn, and wants everything to be done for them. This is obviously not universally true, but it’s definitely the norm.

When I work with these children, I try to get them away from this. I try to inspire something else in them, but, of course, I’m not the prevailing force in their lives. Their parents need to be more involved, less distracted, and take this precious time in a child’s life seriously. They will probably end up well-off for their whole lives regardless, but if parents don’t take advantage of their sponge-like brains, then — even with all the money and connections — their children are going to end up stupid, unable to think for themselves.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Book 10 and 11 | Impressions

9780451531513What can I say about Victor Hugo’s ending to The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Well, I could say a lot, but I’m not interested in that. I will say that I found the ending pleasant. Obviously, the ending is dark, and depressing, and even violent, but it is French literature after all. Even though the ending was overwrought and nearly a cliche, I liked it because it was cyclical. The cliche of dust to dust is remarkably overused in literature, but here it made sense. It didn’t make me feel gross or make me roll my eyes; it was the perfect closure to this story for a reason that I will need to explore further. Nonetheless, I closed the book after having read the last pages and felt satisfied. I wasn’t sad that it was ending, like I am for many books. I wasn’t upset with the ending, nor did I think the ending was boring. It truly was an ending, which I find to be rare; it’s infrequent that I finish a novel and feel that the story the author was telling came to close. So Hugo, bravo! You said what you had to say and finished it without contradicting the message of the book, without leaving the reader feeling like more is to come, and without giving up on the story. I commend you for it, and I find that this must be why you were a literary success.

Overall, even with all the ups-and-downs throughout my reading of it, I liked the book. I would not recommend this to everyone. It is not a universal must-read, but for some it will be.

Next, on my mission to read 60 classic novels by the time I’m thirty years on, I will be reading Light in August by William Faulkner. Faulkner is a favorite of my mine, so I am excited to return to his prose style for a refreshing, literary cleanse.