I was uncomfortable from the minute I walked into “Critical Thinking and Writing” at 5:25pm on a Monday–the first day of my college career. I was uncomfortable being in a new state, surrounded by new people who had new interests and perceptions of what was “in” and what wasn’t. I grew even more uncomfortable when my teacher was late and one of my classmates insisted we all get in a circle and chat. That was not me. I was also very intimidated by the idea of critically thinking and thinking for myself. I had become very good at keeping quiet and reading the classroom and then reiterating exactly what I knew the teacher wanted to hear on whatever assessment came up. In fact, if I was directly asked my thoughts on something I would mutter an “I don’t know” and quickly divert my attention. Critical Thinking and Writing? This was not my cup of tea, to say the least.
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” – Nathaniel Branden
Since I was a little kid, whenever my parents asked me what I wanted to eat, the answer was simple. MEAT, MEAT, and MORE MEAT. From begging to go to the local McDonald’s for a juicy hamburger or rejoicing when we had our annual summer barbecues, I could not imagine a life or even plate without meat. Vegetables were my enemy and fruits were just mere acquaintances. My friends were Rice and potatoes, meat’s best friends. Never did I consider how meat was produced in the United States or the atrocities committed against violence. Without meat I would go ballistic. At the end of the day, all I cared about was if I had meat on my damn plate for every lunch and dinner, sometimes even breakfast. To say I was ignorant is an understatement. But could you really blame me though? This thought process continued until my freshman year at Santa Clara University.
Over the course of six months, I never expected my perspective could change so drastically. After reading many influential texts, watching many depictive films, and having a number of important conversations with my colleagues, I’ve come to a realization;
Problems, they happen to all of us. We may lose our keys. We may be late for work. These things happen; it’s a fact of life. When these problems occur, whether they are small or large, we look to figure out why they happened. We look for the thing that caused our pain or distress. It is animal instinct. Unfortunately, the problems we face, both as individuals and a society, are much greater than trying to recall where you placed your keys last night. Violence and corruption are just two of these innumerable problems that humanity faces on a daily basis. However, the common denominator among all people is that we look for why these actions and incidents occur. This is where the idea of blame is born.
After terrible events such as shootings, we as a people try to look at the shooter and see where he or she went wrong. Many people point to things like video games, mental health, popular culture, or the ready availability of guns. Initially, things like this make sense. Video games and popular culture warp one’s idea and perception of the world around the victim. Mental health problems can also completely distort an individual’s perception of the world around them. As for shootings, guns are the devices used to carry out the actions. Logically, it makes sense to find fault in these things. Continue reading It’s all your fault! // Grant Gordon
I moved to the United States from Africa in 2008 when I was 12 years old from Senegal, Africa. Since then I have been living in Oakland, Ca and my life has been going pretty well. I had the privilege to learn English which is my third language after Wolof (native language) and French. I also adapted myself to the Californian’s life mostly the Oakland’s life. I remember back in middle school when I first moved to the U.S., my friends from school used to call me African’s boy which separated me from the Oakland people (Oaklanders) and there was also the language. But now people Oakland boy because I represented Oakland all the time with the sport teams such as the Warriors (NBA) and the Raiders (NFL). Even my style is the Oakland’s style and the music I listened. Sometimes I feel like I am from Oakland or more so I was born in Oakland because the city helped me grown to be a man I am today. But I am not from Oakland, I am from Senegal.
Your child just knocked over a glass of milk and it spilled all over the kitchen. A neighbor drunkenly crashed their car into your mailbox. The son of a friend got poisoned by E. Coli after eating some contaminated meat. A depressed student and a mentally unstable student just fired guns and killed thirteen fellow classmates at your school. Each and every one of these events may frustrate you, anger you, and even shock you, and if you’re like most of us, you are likely to blame what’s right in front of you. You would blame the child who knocked over the milk, you would blame the drunk driver who broke your mailbox, you would blame the meat company for selling tainted meat, and you would blame the shooters for committing such a horrible crime upon your school. Now what I’ve learned about writing an academic, literary piece is that you often need an answer. Unfortunately for this essay, and for the situations described above, I don’t have an answer. In fact, when it comes to blaming people and things, I don’t have any answers at all.
Turn on the news and you will undoubtedly hear a story containing some sort of violence. We seem to be intrigued by violence, yet afraid of it; aware of its negative consequences, yet unwilling or afraid to prevent it. Some violence is veiled and less apparent—such is the case with the factory farming industry. Other violence is more obvious—mass murders, for example.