Hello! My name is Joseph Tokasz. This blog is for a class that I am taking at Gannon University in Erie, PA. The Class is English 394 – Writing for Social Change. Through out this Fall 2016 semester I will be posting at least once a week about social change/ justice.
The Inter-webs Today
In class this week (Writing for Social Change) we have been giving presentations on different social media interfaces and networks. My topic for the presentation is on Pintrest with my group members. What I would like to put forward as a large area for social change is how we use these and the internet in general as an area for change. “The Web is a tool.” I was once told this by a college professor when I was in high school taking AP biology. He told us to remember this. That it is not a toy, not a weapon, and defiantly not a way to do anything that is greater than a good old conversation. It is something that can be used to do great things and that when it is misused bad thing happen and these bad things will affect many people. Why do I say this? Because I see a trend of many people using the internet in very wrong ways. It is affecting how we live, how children live. More and more I find ads to be more and more thing that I have no wish to see and that should not be seen as a generally ok thing to have pop up on a screen when I am working on hacking my email. I find that more and more people think that it is ok to put thing on their media that has no right to be there, that they should realize does not belong in the public view and that frankly, verges on the edge of being pornographic in nature. The web needs to be cleaned up, how we approach posting and what we post needs to be changed and cleaned up.
Drowning in Debt
This post is going to be about a topic that was brought up in my psychology class this morning and in class on Wednesday morning. It has also been brought up by the presidential campaign, mostly by Bernie Sanders when he was still in the running. This is a post about the cost of college education. Now I don’t complain about the costs of my undergraduate studies much in order to live with it and accept what I have. But as it was brought up in an interesting way to me I have been thinking about it.
The truth about it is that college education has jump in cost over a generation. When my mother graduated from the Crane School Music at the then State College at Potsdam (it is now SUNY Potsdam) she was told that she had a $1,000 loan to pay off by her parents. Most the college students in the world today go I wish that’s how it was for me. The undergraduate student today graduates with $35,000 in college loan debt. How is one expected to leave college, find a place to live, find a job (hopefully in the field they studied in) and begin to make money to pay for housing, food, insurance, gas and the huge college loan bill each month?
There needs to be a change somewhere so that graduates can try to have a life after college and don’t feel chained to a sinking brick that will eventually start dragging. I’m not saying that college should be free, but am saying that it’s a little ridiculous to be paying the equivalent of a mid-sized family’s annual income for 8 months of higher education each year.
The size of houses. This is something we don’t think about unless we are looking to buy a new house or are stunned by the living conditions that someone else lives in. Well the trend today in the United States is along the lines of bigger house = better. But is it? A large house is a bigger building to take care of and maintain over time. It is more space to clean and more space that gets dirty. It is more area to heat and heat costs money and is a necessary thing especially for those who do not live in a warmer environment. The opposite of this that it is more area to cool down and this is a modern necessity for those in warmer environments in order to get anything done. What are some of the pros that some people put out there? More space to live in, more room to store stuff in, it looks nice/ cool. Well I want to call for those to think about what they actually need, what the world actually needs. Then take a look at what they want (building a house or buying a house) or what they have, then look at he some people live in in the world, what they live with, how they live. The poor and the impoverished and the homeless; do not ignore them and do not shove the out of mind, do not forget about the beauty of the world and how it is disappearing.
I want to in this post talk about the arts; a topic that I can say that I feel very strongly about. I will try to make sure that I do not allow this feeling and opinion of mine to bias my presenting of this topic too much.
The arts are ancient and we see them though out the ages and cultures of our history. I see today and have seen this since a young age that many people would like to see an increase in pure sciences and a decrease in the arts or an increase in funding for sports and the sciences and a decrease in the arts. Now this is a very general statement. This concept of the arts as less important has deep roots in the scientific revolution. But today I see an ever greater need to combat these concepts.
Now when I say “The Arts” I am not just talking about painting and drawing; I am talking as well about the performing arts, music and dance. I feel that removing these from the playing field as established and important fields of study is a very wrong concept and a very dangerous path to look at. It is in art that we express that which we feel, cannot express in equations and theories. Now there are both of these things in the arts but they are not seen as core and important to the essence of what art is.
Now one might say, I don’t see any evidence of a want for a decrease in the arts. I will tell you to look a funding and regulations for schools, elementary through highs school, for example. There are in many schools a struggle, many times unseen to an outside observer, between science and core, the art departments, and sports for funding recognition and regulation.
So what I am saying is that it is important to be well balanced in our understating of life. The arts are a beautiful part of this and they complement the sciences and athletics and vise versa. We need to make sure that they, the arts, and there importance to each of our lives are not minimized or overlooked.
Most of us have had a pet of some kind in our lives, and if we haven’t, we know someone who has had or does have a pet of some sort. We also encounter animals all around us, the birds that fly above our heads, the mice in the walls, the rats in the gutters, the deer in the parks and the list goes on and on. This morning I even saw a chipmunk run across the path though AJ’s Way (a park/ walkway hybrid on the Gannon University campus with trees, gardens, benches and picnic tables). But I am not working towards how we encounter animals in our lives, though this is a part of what I am going to write about here.
Since about the time I was in high school I was brought into the awareness of animal charities. This was mostly through my sister who is a great lover of animals (as is my whole family) who began build a great interest in the topic. It now comes up in college as many things do in both ideal conversation and in studies. In my case I see it a lot in ethics and morals while studying philosophy and theology.
My point is to get the question flowing in the minds ( I am not here attempting to get a specific point of view across). This question is that of whether we should give or should not give to charities that benefit animals. Charities such as the ASPCA and other animal shelters, animal rehabilitation and education centers, and PETA (this is a wide spectrum that covers a lot of different charities with a variety of missions and presences). But is it moral, ethical, socially justifiable, and should it be a point of social change to give charitably to animal related charities?
Taking a little bit of a different route than my last few posts I want to write about a little bit of research I did after my last Writing for Social Concerns class on Wednesday afternoon. We had presentation about the Soldier and Sailor home in Erie, PA. This got me thinking about veteran housing in Western New York where I am from. I did some research and found that there is no actual housing situation in WNY that is like the Soldiers and sailors home in Erie. This concerned me and I looked a little more and found that there is a coalition finding housing for veterans, but that it is small. I think that this is a sad reality that is lacking a place for those who have served our country to be taken care of in their old age and to help those in need of assistance throughout their lives after serving in our armed forces.
Thursday September 15, 2016
I want to reflect on social justice today not from a present perspective looking to the future. I want to take a present perspective as a future of a past. So I am going to look back at a social injustice that has been remedied.
All throughout the world we are surrounded by the saints (I know quite a quick turn of topic; there is a method to my madness though). Or rather they serve as a reminder of what our lives could look like. Some are quite familiar to all no matter what their faith background others are not. These include, but are in no way limited to: John Paul II, Maximilian Kolbe, Francis Cabrini, Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Neumann, Katherine Drexel, Padre Pio, and the one I am going to talk about is Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta now a canonized saint of the Catholic Church, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, Nobel peace prize winner, inspiration to thousands and caretaker of the poor. Though she would tell us not to concentrate on her for it takes us away from our concentration on God and to concentrate on the poor for it is there that we find Jesus; I am going to talk about her for a little bit. This is a woman whose story moves. A religious sister in India who went into the streets and slums of India and taught children and cred for the dying who lay abandoned in the streets to die alone.
You are sick, you have lost everything, you can no longer move and you are alone lying on the cold hard dirt of a street starving and on the verge of death as men and women passed you by. This was the social injustice of India, that one should be allowed to die alone and uncared for. It is this social injustice that Mother Teresa would come to combat throughout the world. Now she did not write for social change and justice but her story has been written and it has been a catalyst for many social changes in the world.
Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. – Mother Teresa