Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Long and Thick... No, It's Long and Thin...

... So says the second blind man to the first.

The story goes like this: Two blind men were standing near an elephant, one in front of the elephant and the other behind the same animal. They were then asked to describe the elephant. The first blind man reached out and had the elephant's trunk in his hands. He described what he felt. The second blind man reached out and had the elephant's tail in his hands. He too described what he felt.

Question: whose description is right? Both descriptions ARE correct because it depends on which part of the elephant was described. Both descriptions are equally valid.

Moral of the story: When two accounts seem to contradict each other, we tend to think one must be incorrect, or maybe less correct. But it really depends on where we stand and our perspective of the issue.

I thought this story might give us some insight into how we view race. A CNN commentary this past weekend says that whites and blacks view the same issue -- race -- differently, http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/28/pitts.black.america/index.html.

Hey another story to share. So I heard there would be an ethnography performance sometime in April, here on our campus, on a recently concluded research on what white female students think about race and the challenges they encounter when facing race issues. Scribble a comment or two for more info.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Readers' Discretion Advised

"In America, there is someone else to despise. In Canada, there is not. In the new racism, as in the old, somebody always has to be the nigger." -Malcolm Gladwell

Read the whole article at http://www.gladwell.com/pdf/black.pdf. Might be something you want to read to your grandchildren when they turn 3. They can handle it.

If only we could stop comparing people and start appreciating people as who they are. We are all, after all, humankind. Be kind to humans.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let's Plant Marijuana

Come April, it will be legal to plant marijuana in our backyards... but only if you have a chronic medical condition (http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/
health/chi-medical-marijuanamar20,0,1359482.story). This is probably old news if you voted for (or against) it sometime back, but it is worth revisiting.

As we age, some form of anatomical wear and tear would happen. With an aging population, the normal process of our body breaking down becomes a public health and policy concern. So here we have several issues to look at: Gerontology, medical ethics, law and order, medical economics,....

Whether there's a system in place to ensure that 100% of those home-grown marijuana is used for the legitimate medical purpose interests me. I chanced upon this BBC article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7942432.stm) and thought there might be common ground for us to do a comparative study.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Break's Here...

... and off they went! Seventy-five Calvin students left to various locations across the country on a mission-- a spring break trip to serve and learn (http://www.calvin.edu/news/2008-09/spring-break/). I am sure these students would gain valuable lessons, experience the local cultures of their service sites, develop closer relationships with those whom they would meet from the trips, and cultivate friendships that would last a lifetime. As I thought about the amazing things they would do and the questions I would ask them (because I figured they would return at least a little wiser), I thought about the many selfless men and women in uniform serving around the world (surely, if there are lessons to learn from reflecting upon one's week-long service trip, there must be even more lessons to unearth from multiple tours of duty that stretch for months). These brave troops placed their limbs and lives on the line so that we could keep ours. These brave troops stood up to defend freedom so that the rest of us could freely do whatever we wanted. Yet, our veterans are not treated with the kind of respect they deserve. Psychologists say that telling stories is therapeutic. I think storytelling has a two-fold benefit: We remember the hardship endured by the story tellers, and we learn about those parts of the world that we would probably never visit. We might surprise ourselves to realize that there are actually many valuable lessons to learn from those humble and forgotten veterans.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Do Men Kill Their Children?

Do men not care about their offspring? If you followed the Fritzl case, Mr. Fritzl's convicted and headed to jail for life (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7952275.stm). Too far from home? Consider a case from Alabama. One father threw four of his kids, 3 of which are his biological children, off a bridge (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7953646.stm). Isolated cases?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scary Truth

What do you say to a man who has 7 grandchildren? Actually, these 7 grandchildren are also his children.

An Austrian named Josef Fritzl is on trial for charges including incest, assault, and murder (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7947508.stm). This case presents several discussion topics for us: morality (faith-based/secular), media ethics (how much to report), parenting (what can we learn to teach our kids), slavery (stretching, but I believe I can make a case for it), and many more. This case is depressing, but I thought it warrants a mention on our blog.