What if Money Didn’t Matter

We live in a society, check that, a WORLD where money is the be all, end all. It’s not about what you do, but rather how much you make doing what you do. Monetary value is more important than the social value of the job itself. We grow up inoculated and manipulated by what kind of life is worth living; that a life of wealth is better than a life in middle or lower class America. The ideal that our lives will not be memorable unless we leave a lasting imprint; an imprint lined with beautiful jewels and 100 dollar bills. We are indoctrinated from a young age that those who have acquired wealth are somehow superior to those who have not acquired vast reserves of wealth. It was never taken into perspective how that wealth came about. Did they do it in such a way that their basic values and morals were compromised? Has it helped foster an idea or product that is for the overall benefit of society? Last, and most importantly, is the path they took to become so wealthy what they dreamed of when they were young? We dream of being firefighters, police officers and doctors, not Wall Street moguls or CEO’s of companies that you never even heard of growing up. Maybe it is in the pursuit of the American dream that we lose our sense of doing what we love. American’s value stories of people going from, “Rags to Riches.” What is often forgotten is how the wealthy  go from being poor to wealthy. Was it about doing what you love or doing what had the highest likelihood of making you wealthiest? So as you watched this video, are you on the right path to doing what you love, or do you find yourself in the pursuit of wealth, going after the money rather than your own happiness? What if money didn’t matter?

 

Here We Go, Again

So for some, syllabus week has already come and gone — destined to be a fond memory or maybe even a painful nightmare of the past. For others, syllabus week is  now underway and the allure of excitement and maybe even a bit of anxiety are filling their most inner thoughts. Wherever you may currently find yourself, however, there is no denying that it’s time to get back into this. Shake the cobwebs off from that winter break that is too short for some and an eternity to those impatiently waiting to get back to the relative freedom that college offers. So brew your coffee, unpack your books and catch up on that sleep that you did not quite get enough of over break despite the promises you may have made to yourself prior to returning home. It’s time to get back to where we left off. All students now have a semester of college under their belt; some may even say were used to this now. We know what to expect — or maybe not quite. Whatever happens though, we are getting back into the swing of things. So competitors, take your places. On your mark, get set, go!… or should I say, here we go again.

(This music video is so cool by the way)

 

 

The Forgotten War

IMG_1222It is often the over-looked war. Forgotten. It is that dusty photo stowed away in that dusty box in the attic – sentimental for a short time and then forgotten just as quickly. This is the Korean War. Often overlooked, but never forgotten. The Korean War Memorial captures the fear that few young men ever understand. A gut-wrenching anxiety from knowing that your next step could be your last, and your next breath, your final.

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Poverty: America’s Undiagnosed Disease

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It was the end of my trip to Washington D.C. With my suitcase packed and mind occupied with the memories of  10 days spent in the nation’s capital, I set out for what would be my last trip on the D.C. Metro. It was about 5:30 in the morning, a time when most teenagers are still sleeping and most parents are either preparing for the day ahead or already on their way to work. 5:30 is also one of the cooler times of the day. This morning was different though. As I ventured out into the street, I was enveloped by frigid air and greeted by an unfriendly gusting wind.I could feel my nose stinging, and my ears burning. As the wind whipped my face I could feel the stinging of my eyes as tears began to form in the corner of my eyes and gently slide down my face. It was bitterly cold.

While lugging my over-stuffed suitcase to the train stop, I became enamored by something that I saw. In the ungodly cold morning air, there was a man standing in front of a small door that was set into a concrete wall. It offered some shelter, but not very much, from the constant wind. As I walked past, him I saw he was rubbing the thin jacket that was wrapped around his frail, thin body. He looked at me and with a gentle smile coming to his face he said, “good morning.” He was the face of American poverty.

This small concrete doorway was his home. This was where he lived. He did not have the luxury or the convenience of sitting inside a temperature regulated apartment. For whatever reason, something happened to this man that brought him to live without the comforts offered to many in America. It could have been one bad decision, a string of bad luck. Whatever it was, this is where he now found himself. Cold, homeless and all alone in a world inhabited by about 7 billion people. No one to turn to. No one to help. The world was harsh to him, and maybe some people were even harsher. He had so little, but he still had enough to say good morning to someone who probably would have never said, “good morning” to him.

While on the train heading back to the comforts of suburbia and the commodities that home offers, I was struck by what had just transpired. It was in the capital of the world’s richest nation where I met the all-too common face of poverty. It could be a mother, a father, a sister or a brother. It can be an entire family. The point is that poverty still exists. It’s easy to forget while we become enticed by the idea that more is better. More clothes and better cars. More, More, More. Me, Me, Me.We look to get more while others look to have some. Some place to call home. Some hot meals to eat on a consistent basis. Some hope that someone will give them the help they need to get back on their feet and start heading in the right direction. It is easy to tell ourselves that someone must be unfit, an alcoholic or disturbed when they are homeless and living on the streets. Sometimes this is not the case though; maybe they just need some help.

From the hills of West Virginia to the streets of our biggest cities, to the quaint streets of quiet suburbia, poverty is alive, and it is thriving. So as you sit inside today with your favorite sweatpants, largest sweater and favorite slippers listening to the wind howl outside, remember there are people out there taking on that howling wind. As you curl up in your bed, someone is curling up on a bench in the local park. As you ask for another new gadget, someone out there is asking for a warm meal, a warm bed and most importantly, someone is asking for someone to care. Anybody who cares enough to do something about this undiagnosed disease.

America the Beautiful

IMG_1325Only a few days ago, I attended a moment of American history. I watched as President Barack Obama was sworn into the highest public office in America. In the early morning hours before the inauguration began I saw the sun raising over a Capitol Building that was still shrouded in the evenings darkness. While watching I noticed that this was symbolic of new hope for the next four years. It was a day of hope, hope that the next four years will be better. Hope that the problems of today will be the victories of yesterday. The basic ideas that brighter days are on the horizon and the American people will continue moving forward. It was symbolic that although our political views sometimes divide us, we all still strive for the same goal; a better America and a better future. It was a day that did not matter whether you were Democratic or Republican, Conservative or Liberal. We were all Americans. All people with the common belief that as bad as things may be sometimes, we are part of the most magnificent country in the world. We are part of something beautiful. A country as beautiful as all the men, women and children who inhabit it; we are part of America the beautiful.

Maybe this too is home

So there’s something remarkable that happens over the course of your first semester. The place that at one time you were so anxious to come to becomes the place that you cannot wait to get back to. Your dorm becomes a home-away-from-home to some and for others, it just becomes home. The freedom, the friendships and the renewed sense of togetherness is felt upon entering your dorm room after a long break. Good friends, long nights and more importantly good times. It is where memories are made and everlasting friendships are ignited. It may not be exactly like home, but I like to think that it still is home. So welcome home everybody, I hope you feel welcomed, comfortable and excited for what this semester may, or may not, have in store for you.

 

Hope is Blooming

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Among a row of otherwise barren bushes bloomed one flower. Just one. A single speck of color in a dreary winter world. Holding onto hope that warmer days will be ahead, that not all is lost. Alone, but not overlooked, down but never out. A flower not so different from the American people. Times look bad, the odds look poor and hope is fleeting. But like a mid-January flower, we will bloom.When the times seem hopeless, we will forever blossom despite poor weather. Like a lone flower in the depths of winter, America will continue to add a touch of color among a palate of grayness.