trying to follow

Friday, October 28

bennett, miller and their detractors (the background)

some time ago (perhaps it was last week) fliers were posted on campus. the brightly colored 8 1/2 x 11's sported a quote from bill bennett, a conservative radio talk show host and former u.s. secretary of education, in which he spoke of how aborting all black males (or was it just children?) would lower the crime rate. there was a protest that day which, at least to the best of my memory, expressed contempt for self-segregation and the comments made by bennett.

earlier this week (monday, i think) stephen miller, a columnist for our paper, the chronicle, used his editorial space to put bennett's quote in context and express contempt for the actions of the students of the black student alliance, whom he assumed sponsored the protest. (apparently this was an incorrect assumption, but i'm pretty sure they posted the fliers. i could be wrong.)

(bennett was using the statement hypothetically and hyperbolically to demonstrate the irrationale behind an extremist pro-life position advocated by one of his callers.)

needless to say, there has been a wave of letters to the editor condemning both bennett and miller.

well, this is the beginning. i need to go, but i'll continue this later. actually, i'm still trying to collect my thoughts. perhaps they will be more cohesive than if i quickly typed them now.

what's a [Christian] boy to do?

i got on the bus today. there was a fellow passenger who appeared to be down on his luck, to apply a trite euphemism. i'll say it: he looked and smelled homeless. my first reaction was, "i wonder why he's on a campus bus." he certainly would be out of place at any duke bus stop. anyway, my second reaction was, "do i help this guy? how do i go about it? what do i offer him? will i offend him?" anyway, i pondered this and, of course, did not act. i had myself convinced that i would have helped him had he asked. i would have given him the four dollars on my person if he wanted money. i thought about offering him the opportunity to take a shower at my apartment, some clothes and some food. but i didn't. i thought that it'd be a great opportunity to share love and, incidentally, to lend creedence to my claim of being a compassionate conservative. but i left him alone. maybe that's the way he wanted it. maybe not.

Wednesday, October 19

thoughts on pacifism

so over the past couple of months i have become somewhat of a pacifist. i say "somewhat" because i part with pacificists on some issues. more specifically, i support the death penalty, i do not bemoan our government's involvement in iraq (while i do disagree with it), and my reason for opposing war in the modern era is different than pacifists (it's not simply "war is wrong.")

over the past couple of days, however, i've been asking questions to myself about whether it is justifiable. i suppose it's necessary to divulge my main opposition to war. that's easy enough. i object because there's no directive from on high as i believe there was in the old testament. furthermore, it seems to me that a general principle of the new testament is submission as opposed to retaliation. (i am aware of the difference between an individual Christian and the secular state.) an issue that is not completely clear to me, on a personal level, is the issue of violence for the protection of others. that is, i believe that i would act in a violent manner, if necessary, to protect someone from another person. while it is my decision to not retaliate if someone attacks me, it is not my decision to deny others that choice. it was in thinking about this that i wondered again about war. was it not the case (or could it at least be argued) that the united states' actions in iraq were to prevent one group of human beings from harming others? is the war analagous to me resorting to violence to protect someone from a rapist or a murderer? i don't know.

on the expression of gratitude

for those with little tolerance for the ramblings of the overly analytic, i recommend not reading the following. for those who enjoy such ramblings, this one isn't the greatest.

sometimes as i and others get off a bus, some of them thank the bus driver. i generally refrain. the way i see it, he is just doing his job. perhaps i would express gratitude if he had waited a few seconds to leave a stop for me to get on, but it seems unnecessary to thank him for driving the bus. i believe there are grounds for complaint in the event that he fails to do his job but fail to see why i should commend him for stopping at my stop.

at the same time, i realize that this sounds insensitive and humbuggish, neither of which i desire to be. i certainly neither condemn friendliness on the part of my peers nor question their motives. rather, i question merely their words. i've considered saying other things to bus drivers, equally friendly things, but am unable to come up with anything that isn't trite ("have a good one", etc.). i am not against positive reinforcement but insist that, on my part, it be genuine and logical.

i experienced similar ambivalence shortly after september 11, 2001. there was an outpouring of gratefulness expressed to the new york fire and police departments. while i appreciate their service, do they deserve praise for doing their job? if we express this gratitude, then are we not insisting that inaction would have been a viable option? i feel that a greater debt of gratitude was owed to the volunteers who attended the aftermath of the disaster; in their case, inaction was a viable option.

i desire consistency. if i am grateful that my bus driver drops me off at my stop, then i should be grateful that beavers build dams.

and yet, i know that i am wrong somehow. if my mother were rescued by a firefighter, then i would be grateful. and i would most definitely express gratitude to him, indeed, just for doing his job. this extends. i know that i am encouraged and delighted when people express gratitude to me for things that i'm supposed to do.

the issue remains for me. what actions deserve gratitude? which do not?

Thursday, October 13


so last night i checked out job openings in beaufort county schools. they had listed an opening for a math teacher in the spring at washington high school. i wrote down the contact number, thinking i'll call the next morning.

my cell phone woke me up this morning. my mom was calling to let me know about the very same job opening. as it turns out, the lady who was principal at my junior high school talked with the principal of whs last night, found out about the job, recommended me, and then called my mom this morning.

anyway, so i'm stoked. i talked to the principal this morning. he seemed very encouraging, despite the fact that i'm not licensed. i've talked to God about this (i.e. a job for the spring). i'm wondering if this was all coincidence, or if He had a hand in it. if the latter is the case, then i feel bad for just wondering. if the former is the case, then i feel foolish for just wondering. maybe i should decide one way or the other, so i'll be completely right or wrong. maybe.

Friday, October 7

special milk?

according to the label, a starbucks coffee(r) frappuccino(r) coffee drink is "a lowfat creamy blend of starbucks(r) coffee and milk." my question is why doesn't the milk sour in a week? i mean, the bottle in front of me has a "best taste by" date of february 6, 2006. surely milk would sour before then. i'm vexed.

Tuesday, October 4

being real

i hate artificial relationships. i learned this a few summers ago when i worked at a bank. everybody says the same things. you aren't yourself, rather you're the person that everyone conforms himself to because it is what is socially accepted. that guy sucks. he's lame, and no one likes him. that's why people pretend not to see people they know sometimes; it's because they're avoiding talking to him.

when i worked at the bank, i talked to this one lady about classic rock. it was cool. we broke past the surface relationship when i found out that she hated boston (i think?) but loved most classic rock. it was so refreshing when i couldn't predict what she'd say. they're were other "real" people, but they were pretty rare.

i think most people in such a situation may only reveal themselves when they feel that there is no threat, no danger of not being the guy of whom i spoke earlier. i call for all to just be themselves, especially around their equals or subordinates. it will make life bearable.

i experienced a similar thing tonight while working on math homework with a classmate. ask stupid questions. don't pretend to know stuff you don't. be real.