Social Media, Activism, Literacy

Read through some of the links to get a sense of some perspectives on social media: good, bad, otherwise and in relation to activism, literacy, and contemporary culture…

notes on readings from The Impossible will Take a Little While

“Because this is a moment in history that needs us to begin, each of us everyday at her or his own pace, slowly and surely rediscovering how to be politically active, how to organize our disparate into effective group action…” (Kushner 170). In Kushner’s piece, he discusses how extremely vital it is for citizens to become actively aware of the inequalities the upper class orchestrates. Without the working class becoming conscious of the system in which the rich continue to thrive off their aggressive labor, the scheme will continue and will only hurt the weakened majority in the process. If the middle class were to become politically aware and consistent in their beliefs as a group, who knows what we can all accomplish.
The most essential element to organizing a movement is togetherness.

“And suddenly I realized something wonderful is happening. The Israelis and the Palestinians can talk to each other…” (Starhawk 381). In Starhawk’s writing he recalls a time where he witnessed a sort of miracle. Israeli and Palestinian young adults hanging out despite their religious beliefs and past ethnic rivalries. If the two most alienated groups can learn to confide and relate to one another, then why can’t we learn to assimilate those values here in the U.S.? It just goes to show that when we all learn how to connect with one another on a more personal level, change is possible.

The new government had not removed the corpses, so that the church was like a mortuary, with the bodies lying as they had fallen the year before during the massacre (Tutu, pg.451).” Tutu describes his trip to Rwanda where he saw the remnants of a church massacre in person. This astonished him with the fact of how humans can act towards other humans if they want. People just take others lives without any second thoughts, its just an instinct for them after repetitive killings. Starhawk was in Palestine where one of the people with the movement was purposely killed by a bulldozer and two other men were shot by Israeli soldiers. People never understand how important life is to people that are just barely clinging to life on their own. When they later went to the village they saw Israeli and Palestinian men together laughing and having a good time. This shows that even if someone is considered an enemy, we are all humans and enjoy the same things, one being living our life peacefully and enjoying it as well.

“I believe our despair is a lie we are telling ourselves” and that is a very strong issue to tackle in itself. I actually compliment Kushner for saying this because it’s a harsh reality. There are many things I disagree with in his chapter but he finds my support here. People love to find a problem and deem that to be the reason for their failure. People love to judge, fear to be judged, and loath self judgement. Michael Jackson said it the best, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/ I’m asking him to change his ways/ And no message could have been any clearer/ If you want to make the world a better place/ Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”. This message of self-addressing is key for any success.

Life is so fragile and limited, but we take it for granted. We take what we got and blind ourselves of how beautiful everything is. Time is limited, growth is limited, our very existence will approach its short-lived end. Seeing someone who is having a harder time living life or a handicapped person can remind you of how much of a blessing it really is. Henri Nouwen’s piece, “Fragile and Hidden,” focuses a lot on how we don’t understand how truly deep live is and spending time with somebody disabled can open your mind. The author says, “Adam cannot speak. Adam cannot walk. Adam is what some people might call “a vegetable.””(148)

Nouwen makes a point about the handicapped young man, that “being with him gave me a sense of being closely in touch with living.”(148) Adam sees life in its sincere beauty, and he is not as able as a regular person.

We also degrade life in general with our phones and other modern technologies. Nothing social seems to be done in person anymore and the author Tony Kushner writes about the problems in society today, being a “Supreme Court that gives corporations more rights than people”(201) and that “people of the world either have no access to power or have access but have forgotten  how to get it and that’s why it is important to have it.”(201)

We all need to cut the crap and fix these world issues and “turn off the fucking computers, leave the Web and Net and show up, our bodies at meetings…”(202) All of us have to  work together on these issues to improve life and not throw it all away with our eyes glued to computer screens. We need to improve education to study more about life and make its limits become limitless. Kushner makes a brilliant point that when the “the supernova” comes, to destroy every world in its radius, “we should be able to say proudly to the supernova, that angel of death, “Hello supernova, we have been expecting you, we know all about you, because in our schools we teach science and not creationism…” Life should be learning and experiencing unknown, it is fragile and limited to what we make it.

To extrapolate on the theme of unity, Starhawk’s story of his night in the village of Mas’Ha, which is located in disputed territory controlled by Israel and Palestine, supports the idea that all people share bonds with one another. “We sit around the fire while two of the men prepare us dinner, laughing and talking.  And suddenly I realize something wonderful is happening. The Israelis and the Palestinians can talk to each other, because most of the young men speak Hebrew. They are hanging out around the fire and talking and telling stories, laughing and relaxing together. They are hanging out just like any group of young people around a fire at night, as if they weren’t bitter enemies, as if it could really be this simple to live together in peace.” Despite the fact that Israel and Palestine have been in a state of constant disputes and war for decades, the people living in the two countries are still able to treat one another with respect and dignity. I believe this supports the idea that all humans are united by common emotions, feelings, and goals; without the pressures of society, religion, or government weighing down on people, they will likely be peaceful and treat one another with respect rather than violence.

Another idea represented in the readings is the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Specifically, Tutu brings this point up in “No Future Without Forgiveness.” In the text, Tutu describes his encounter with Rwandans after the genocide that devastated their country. “I told them that the cycle of reprisal and counter reprisal that had characterized their national history had to be broken and that the only way to do this was to go beyond retributive justice to restorative justice, to move on to forgiveness, because without it there was no future.” Tutu’s argument is that harsh punishments for past crimes is not always the best way to resolve a dispute. In fact, it can make a situation worse by spreading feelings of resentment and expanding the crisis, both in terms of how long it lasts and how many people it affects. In my opinion, the idea of restorative justice seems much more effective than seeking punishments. By rebuilding connections between different groups of people and seeking punishments only for those who truly deserve it, a crisis can be resolved much faster and with less resistance from all parties.

On the other hand, Alice Walker and Starhawk seem to focus on inequality between different groups. As shown through the title of Alice Walker’s essay, Only Justice Can Stop a Curse, she talks a lot about how protecting your home will ultimately protect mankind. She continues to discuss different crimes that have occurred against all kinds of different groups and ways that this can be stopped over time. Ultimately, she tries to remain positive and believe that the world, and the people within it, is good. “I have learned to accept the fact that we risk disappointment, disillusionment, even despair, every time we act. Every time we decide to believe the world can be better. Every time we decide to trust others to be as noble as we think they are. And that there might be years during which out grief is equal to, or even greater than, our hope. The alternative, however, not to act, and therefore to miss experiencing other people at their best, reaching toward their fullness, has never appealed to me” (Walker 429). This quote really stood out to me. Although she may face times when she is disappointed or upset, Alice Walker refuses to not act and fight for change.

“I believe our despair is a lie we tell ourselves” (Loeb, 170). I interpret this as a philosophical way of viewing one’s tyrannized independence. You’re only really deprived from your freedom if you decide to accept the fact that you are. Living in such a detriment society, the only choice people have is to fight their way to take their purloined humanity rights.
“Not any single one of us has to, or possibly can save the world, but together in some sort of concert …. the world will change” (Loeb, 170). By this statement, Kushner stresses on how we are strong individuals that can make a change, but to CHANGE THE WORLD, we must come together. United, we can indeed vanquish all of the unelaborated authoritarian rules. Sitting around and no making an effort to refine the domesticated population.
Changing the nation around you makes your population look stronger as a whole. It doesn’t disappoint when you look back at it. “Maintain the world by changing the world” (Loeb, 170). In order to keep humanity liberal, we must constantly change it because over time the rules people have on others change. I believe that in order to become a powerful and amalgamated nation, people must first come to conclusion that they do deserve freedom and liberty just like everyone else. Once they accept the fact, they must turn to each other and unite their capabilities and share their positive energy towards equality.

Kushner doesn’t make a clear stand on how he feels about people’s attempts or affairs of political reason. He says that “since I was a little kid I’ve been told I have choices, the right to make a choice.” But then goes on to say that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice”. Don’t get me wrong, he supports justice, rights for people, and all the other clichés of a good leader. He just doesn’t seem to care about who or what’s going on, long as it’s done. Only speaking vaguely about vague issues, arguments through emotion. To say the first quote listed implies that we have a choice, that we have control of the world around us. Then Kushner runs from this implication by saying the second quote. If the universe only bends toward justice, why try? I care for the standpoint of the need to take action, I agree with Kushner in that regard. People need this type of push, but they need guidance beyond the start.

quotes and ideas from Bhutto

“The religion of Islam is not the root of the problem; however the exploitation of religion by extremist remains very significant and ongoing problems (Bhutto,180). I believe that is trying to state that a religion cannot be a problem, it’s the people that believe they must purify the world by extermination. For instance, Hitler thought that he had to cleanse the world from Jews and anyone that didn’t have the features he thought would create a pure race. Another example, is slavery, due to the color of someone’s skin they were either deemed a slave or free person. Additional, I believe women’s rights strongly ties to this statement because women where considered property due to their sex. I think she’s trying to stress that religion has nothing to do with extremist acts against humanity. I believe this quote hit close to home because of my religion orientation. This quote perfectly captures that anyone could be capable of radical unjust acts and practicing a religion has nothing to do with it. Another quote I was drawn to was, “I am told that the terrorists who made the bombs and conspired to kill me took a fatwa, or religions edict, to sanctify the terrorist attacks (Bhutto,181). I think there is no hidden meaning for this quote, Bhutto is trying to say that people that are doing violent acts are to give themselves a peace of mind by saying that this part of their religion and they are religiously allowed to commit such terrible crime. I believe that even if acts like murder were accepted religious that it violates our basic morals. If we didn’t have morals we wouldn’t be a civilized nation. Bhutto is trying to vocalize that people that perpetrate such acts have to tell themselves lies so they can feel as if they still have some basic morals; they twisting religions so it can fulfill such demoralizing acts and gave themselves tranquility. “Democracies do not spring up fully develop overnight, nor is there necessarily a bright line between democratic governance and autocracy(Bhutto,191).” Bhutto proclaims that change can happen its not going to happen as soon as you wake up the next day but it’s going to happen in little waves, so don’t expect a democracy form. This quote enticed me because change is important for us a society to evolve and to become more moral set. If we still lived like cavemen we would still be lured by the aspect of creating fire and be more accept violence as a norm.

  • “Thus humans must seek and apply knowledge, must use reason, must consult and build a consensus for a just society on earth on which they will be judged in the hereafter. They must not sin by taking innocent life, for God alone has the right to give and take life. Anyone who interferes in God’s work by taking a life commits the most heinous crime in Islam.”

This quote, made by Bhutto at the beginning of her essay, is a reflection of her personal interpretation of Islam. By reading this excerpt, you can clearly see that she has a positive view of her religion and believes God has the potential to guide humanity to where it should go. I find this quote important because it establishes a frame of reference for what Bhutto is talking about; she continually points out that extremists do not represent what she believes Islam should be.

  • “It is quite easy (and typical) for Muslim extremists to blame the Americans for the sectarian civil war that rages in Iraq today, when actually it is a long-standing tension between Muslim communities that has been exacerbated and militarized to create the chaos under which extremists thrive.”

Bhutto explains with the above quote that she believes many of the Muslim world’s problems are internal. Although external problems like invasion or Western influence play a part, the quote implies there has always been disagreements and issues within Muslim communities, and according to her, Western influences stoked the fire and allowed Islamic extremism to rise. I find this quote to be interesting since Bhutto is acknowledging multiple causes to the current instability in the Middle East; it proves she has a wider view of issues rather than focusing in on one root cause.

  • “The actions of the West in the second half of the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth century often deliberately blocked any reasonable chance for democratic development in Muslim-majority countries. It is so discouraging to me that the actions of the West in the pursuit of its various short-term strategic goals have been counterproductive, often backfiring. Western policies have often preserved authoritarianism and contained the growth of nascent democratic movements in the developing world, specifically in the Islamic world.”

For my third quote, I chose a quote from a section of the essay in which Bhutto is openly criticizing Western countries for their involvement in the developing world. I agree with her that the West, historically, has established and supported oppressive regimes across the globe, especially during the age of European colonialism. These actions have had direct impacts on the problems facing the Middle East today, but many Western nations are working to reverse the negative effects they had on the region (decolonization, military/economic support, taking on the burden of millions of refugees).

Benazir Bhutto attended Harvard University and Oxford University, where her studies were focused on political science.  She was the first prime minister of Pakistan.  With this title she was essentially the first woman leader of an Islamic country.

1.  “They must not sin by taking innocent life, for God alone has the right to give and take life.” (Page 178)

This quote describes how the destruction of innocent lives matters deeply to Bhutto. I chose this quote because it stood out to me.  It truly bothers me to see the hatred that goes on in the world around us, to take an innocent life is mind blowing and horrible to even think of.  The fact that cruel actions such as this take place in the very world we live in is heartbreaking.

2. “I am told that the terrorists who made the bombs and conspire to kill me took a fatwa, or a religious edict, to sanctify the terrorist attacks.  However, on the Day of Judgement, such an edict will be of no help.  God has ordained that each individual will have to account individually for his actions without intercession from any other individual.” (Page 181)

In this quote, Bhutto explained the current situation, and then later ties it down to the religion of Islam.  She explains how in the religion of Islam, those who commit sin or acts of injustice are said to later be punished by a greater being (God).  I am a follower of the religion of Islam.  I agree with all that Bhutto explained here, and the reason it stood out to me is because Islam is a religion of peace.  Many people do not see it for what it truly is due to the evil acts of a few corrupt people who claim to be followers of this religion.  In reality, Islam does not promote violence in any way, it frowns upon any acts of violence or hatred.  True followers of this religion will agree with Bhutto’s quote.  These people will bring the realization that violence is wrong, and those who commit sin, are believed to be punished on the Day of Judgement.

3. “True democracy is defined not only by elections but by the democratic governance that should follow.  The most critical elements of democratic governance go beyond just free and fair elections to the protection of political rights for those in political opposition, the open function of a civil society and free press, and an independent judiciary.” (Page 191)

In this quote, Bhutto is explaining how there is more to a democracy than elections.  While people have the voice to vote, a true democracy boils down to how the elected officials go about pressing issues.  I agree with this statement in the sense that elected officials must be the voice for the people, and stand by what majority wants.  This would then be a true democracy.