Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Curious Life

Day two of actual college classes, and I am feeling a bit more confident than yesterday. While my French class still seems as though it will be very difficult, I am getting the routine of things a bit better. As I sit here outside, I watch people walk by toward their different classes, and I realize that I love watching people. Sometimes I wonder if it is healthy, being so curious about other people's lives. 
Look that girl walking by is wearing a hijab, a Muslim head scarf. I wonder what thought process causes her to wear it? Yesterday I saw another girl wearing a hijab while working out at the recreation center. I also noticed she was wearing pants as not to show her legs. Unfortunately, I do not recall whether or not she was wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Here comes a girl who is overweight. Now I hold no hatred toward those who are overweigh, but I do wonder why they do not take better care of the body they are given. A male student walks by on the telephone. I wonder if he is far from home. Is he talking to his friend back home? That helped me get adjusted to college life, talking every once in a while to a friend who is going through something similar as you.  A professor walks by in a straw sun hat (I guess that is what you call it). He has probably taught here many years as most of the professors have.
I could sit here all day, watching people pass by. Oh look, a young woman with a little boy. Is she a student? That must be hard--raising a child while going to school. Although I have known people who have done it. I do not know what spurs on my curiosity of all these lives. Maybe it is the greater view of things, seeing how, despite all of our differences, we ended up here at the same place, at the same time. Life is curious, and that is why I love it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Busy Week for the World and Me

This week, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan announced his resignation, presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama announced Senator Joe Biden as his presumptive vice president, the Beijing olympics hosts its closing ceremonies, and I complete my first week at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou). You ask, what do all these events have in common? Absolutely nothing. But I mention all of these to point out that the world does not stop for anything or anyone. Nobody waited for me to make a smooth transition to college life, and although both Musharraf and Obama most likely consulted countless individuals about when to make their announcements, the majority of the people they affected were not asked if it was a good time. Maybe all these events do not appear to be of any significant influence on the general public, but I say all this to make the point that you better run with the world if you don't want to get left in the dust. The world keeps spinning no matter what you want or feel. 
This past week, everything has been so out of sync with what I am used to, I don't know what to do. The news reminds me that the world continues, but since I moved away from my hometown of San Antonio, Tx, it feels as though life everywhere except for in Columbia, Mo, should have stopped. It seems as though I should go home soon and find everything exactly as I left it. 

(above) The columns stand in front of Jesse Hall, the admissions building for Mizzou.

Michael Phelps should still be swimming, hoping to break the world record, just as he was when I left. Barack Obama and John McCain
 should still be arguing about how best to solve the nation's and the world's problems, and Pakistan should still be ruled by the military hand of President Musharraf. 
However, when I finally go home for thanksgiving, none of this will be so. The olympics will be long over, the world will know who the next President of the United States will be, and Pakistan will have a new president. 

I wish right now, I had a solution to this dilemma of mine. I wish I knew how to make the world stop spinning, but I don't. So all I can do is run. I will become involved in this new community of mine. I will meet new people and discover new hobbies. I will fulfill my duty as a student and as a Christian. 

(above) Memorial Union is the building that houses many of the student activities at Mizzou.

And when I do finally make the flight home that fourth week in November, I will give thanks to God that I have a family who will be at home, waiting for me with outstretched arms as though I had never left. At that point, I think I will know that there is at least one place where the world can stop turning.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On Comments

Recently, a few comments have been published concerning the articles written. I want to make it clear to my readers that these comments are not in any way affiliated with the author's opinion. However, unless the comment contains profanity or other outrightly inappropriate material, I will allow it to be published. I do promise to warn my readers when a comment recommends an off the blog Web site. On the "Obama Supports Same-Sexers" the material on the recommended site does have some graphic content. Although all nudity is covered, the acts and positions are quite clear to any viewer. 

By Their Fruit You Will Recognize Them

Because I so despise journalists being biased in what is supposed to be straight news, I am going to tell you up front that in this article I am trying to be as unbiased as possible. However, I do not doubt that my personal inclinations and opinions will seep into this article. Last night, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lakefront, CA, interviewed both presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. 
Surprisingly enough, from a Christian point of view, their answers did not vary to great extremes. I mean to say that while their answers to the questions differed, they were not more or less acceptable as far as the typical Christian standard is concerned. The two points that did divert from general Christian beliefs were Barack Obama's stance on abortion and homosexuality. While he has made it clear that he does not personally believe in either, he also says he will take no stance against them. Viewing this in light of having a president for eight years who has opposed both but taken no successful action against either homosexuality or abortion, a Christian constituent might absorb this fault (if you will allow me to call it that; not for my sake, but for the majority of Christians) of Obama, in order to elect a president who is more agreeable in other areas. On the other hand, many Christians believe this to be completely unacceptable and will therefore, alienate all of Obama's other stances because, in their opinion, abortion overshadows all other issues. What most people do not hear, however, is that Obama and McCain's view on abortion is almost identical as far as action is concerned. Neither will make any federal law, and both desire to leave the decision in the hands of the states.
Still, putting these two issues aside, Obama and McCain were on fairly equal footing. Obama spoke of his faith personally, relating the times Jesus has helped him through hard times and reciting Scripture as a buttress for his domestic and foreign policies in aiding "the least of these." McCain recalled many stories of his war days, even relaying a story about a Vietnamese Christian guard who gave him slight relief from his torture.
Therefore, the method which I believe is best in choosing for whom to vote in the upcoming elections, from a evangelical viewpoint is to take into consideration Jesus' words in Matthew 7:20, "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." I am not saying one candidate is more "Christian" than the other. But I am saying that words are not enough. Look at their actions. Whose actions match their words. If it is Obama, then do not be afraid of scrutiny from your more conservative counterparts; vote for him. But if it is McCain, then do not shirk because you believe that America is run by liberals. Vote for him. Listen, learn, watch- then choose. No one can ask any more of you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Childhood Dream Satisfying But Not Fairy Tale

For ten years, I have dreamed of going to a Yankees dream to see my favorite athlete Derek Jeter. Although it may not appear at first glance, Jeter and I have much in common. First of all, we were born on the same day. Secondly, we both play shortstop. Thirdly, we both bat second in the lineup. The first time I had the opportunity to see the Yankees was in fifth grade. My parents planned a night when we would go up to see them play the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, which is about five hours from my home in San Antonio. However, one of my elementary friends suddenly had to move because her dad was transferred out of the state. Looking back, I probably should have gone to the game since I think I spoke to her about one time after the day she left. But elementary school friendships always seem to be more important than they are, the childhood mind imagining that every friendship will last forever. As children rarely have a good concept of time or distance, I decided to go the going away party. That night my friends and I got all dressed up and went to eat at the Tower of Americas. That night, Derek Jeter hit a home run in the Rangers Ballpark. I don't recall completely, but I am quite certain they also won.
So eight years later, before I left for college. My parents planned a day to go see the Yankees play in Arlington. I had a fabulous time. The game was exciting, I had just receive a nice zoom lens for my camera, producing fabulous pictures as keepsakes; and my second favorite Yankee, Robinson Cano, hit a home run. The only bad thing about the evening was the heat. Starting at a hundred degrees, the temperature only went down about one degree each hour according to the ballpark thermometer. Bottom of the ninth, five to five, the Rangers are up to bat. After three hours already, I am ready to stay another three in extra innings if that is what it takes. However, Yankee pitching did not seem up to the job. It seems like a blur now, but somehow, the bases became loaded. Before I know what is happening, fireworks are going off in the stadium and Ranger's fans are in an uproar of cheers. Marlon Byrd just hit a grand slam to win it.
My family and I hurry out of the stadium in an attempt to beat the crowds. As I walk out, decked with a Yankees cap and shirt, I feel like a sore thumb sticking out in the crowd, waiting to be picked on. Another Yankee fan, of which there were quite a few for it being an away game, come up to me. "It's okay Yankees!" he says, giving my his fist to bump. My face cheers a bit...but not for long. "Go home Yankees!" I hear a Ranger's fan yell. I wish to get out as quickly as possible. I know that tomorrow brings another chance for my team, as this was only the first game in the four game series, but it didn't matter then. I would not be there the next night. 
As it turned out, the Yankees lost the next night too, only to come and win the last two games in the series. Despite the horrible ending, I did enjoy my night watching the Yankees. Even being in the same stadium with Derek Jeter and others of the like was thrilling. When I look back on pictures, I do not think I will remember much of the grand slam or the malicious calls of Ranger's fans. Instead, I will remember what my role model athletes inspired me to do throughout my own sports career, and the joy of knowing that dreams can be accomplished. Dreams are not fairy tales. They may not turn out exactly as you want, and that line about "them being even better" is only for the movies. But that does not mean that you cannot still fulfill your dreams, and enjoy them all the while. I hope to see another Yankees game sometime, and maybe it will turn out a little better. But either way, I think I loved every minute of that game as best I could. The thing that is better about my life than a fairy tale is that the end of my dream coming true is not the end at all. New dreams arise, which to me is much more exciting than happily ever after.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Plea for Haiti

After years of turmoil, Haiti has finally established Michele Pierre-Louis as the new prime minister. However, I have to question whether or not this will make any difference in the manner in which Haiti is run. For the past thirteen years, Prime Minister Pierre-Louis has been the Executive Director for a George Soros organization called the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation. President Rene Preval nominated her as his third nominee for prime minister, after his first two nominations were not approved. I hope that through her work in education, Pierre-Louis can understand what Haitians truly need. If I could send her a letter, this is what it would be.

(Pictured above: Children wait after school at a home of the school master who provides a meal of rice and beans with one piece of chicken to a group of about thirty children each day whose families do not have enough money to feed them. For some children, the school master says, this will be their only meal that day.)

Dear Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis,
Please take some time to hear my plea for the children of Haiti.
Each day they pray that someone so kind, would hear their voice and take the time, to give them one meal that day.
They pack their bag and head to school in hopes that one day they will pass the test that sends them to the university and onto a better life.
All this they do on one meal a day, made of rice and beans and one piece of meat- that is, if they are lucky.
2/3 of the population sit in unemployment, looking and hoping to find something that will bring them a dollar a day to feed their family.
On the distant shores at Labadee sit tourists with pocket fulls of money, wanting to spend it on an exotic adventure. Behind that beach sits a world in poverty.
Tourism at the citadelle and shops at Labadee could cure this country of its poverty, but officials sit with their arm raised like a pompous police- "Stop! This is our country."
Please, see the people with the hope in their eyes- it fades like the waning moon. Please, see the children with the empty stomachs-they need a little more food.
Please, see the mother, trying to nurse her now AIDs infected child. Please, see the people who are willing to help, if only for a little while.
Please see the people of Haiti, once strong in their fight to be free. Please, be the hero they need; not for me, but for the people of Haiti.

(Right: Horseback riding up the trail to the Citadelle La Ferriere is one of the potentially popular tourist attractions for travelers. Unfortunately, due to political unrest tourism in Haiti has all but vanished.)