I should really make my bed

photoI should really make my bed….. but why? only to mess it up again

flowers on the sill, candles burn under the petals..

The afternoon sun shines through the votive holder,

throwing shadows up on the wall.

Books prop the window up. the breeze ruffles the flower petals.

a book lays on the corner of the bed, nestled into the folds of the sheets.

Everything in order… Everything in order… everything in Order.

The bed still unmade. The sun fades across the sheets.

Why make it?

The one piece of childhood defiance…

not making the bed…

Everything in order… Everything in order… Everything in Order,

except the bed.

Life moved on, I grew up, yet childhood defiance remains in one aspect.

Everything in Order.

I really shouldn’t make my bed.

Just to Clarify

I have received various amounts of comments and responses about my last blog post from people I know and people I don’t know. I understand that this post has reached out further than I imagined, and I am sure this has to do with Social Media and good ole southern gossip. However, I would like to take the time to clarify what the intent of the letter was. Many of you were drawn to the link most likely because of the rather blunt and harsh title. As the post was rather long, I doubt many people read the letter in its entirety. I know I would not have done so, if I had been in the position of many of you readers.

I too hold the same diploma that many of you have or will be receiving shortly, whether that be on Sunday or in the next few years. In no way am I devaluating the SCPS diploma. The SCPS High School has set a wonderful foundation for me to succeed at Georgia Tech. I feel like I was well prepared for the rigor and academics here. I would not choose to attend another high school in Savannah if I was given the choice. I know many of you worked hard in school. I did not shy away from hard work either. There were many times in High School where I felt like I worked twice as hard as the other students in my class, yet only had average grades. I agree that without Savannah Christian I would not be where I am today. It is a unique school with many opportunities. The majority of the teachers I had, had a passion for teaching and wanted to impart their knowledge to their students. Sometimes I did not mesh with their style or approach to teaching, but it did not stop me from trying to absorb what they taught me nor did it prevent me from respecting them as an educator. There is always something to learn from someone, and sometimes you don’t realize until further down the road in life.

With this blog post, I merely wanted to express that I believed that these teachers that were let go were a real asset to the SCPS, especially the middle school. (I personally believe that the middle school could be reworked to be a little more academically challenging, that it does not quite call students to the same level of academic standard as the high school does.) I question why such an event would happen, when these teachers have made a lasting impact on me and many others. I am sure you have had teachers that have done the same too you. What I want to know is why the school administration who is in charge of hiring/firing doesn’t see the value in these teachers, that by letting them go the quality of the education goes down, that by letting them go the school appears to not care about fostering the students. I am sure there is a back story that I am unaware of and administration steps that I do not understand as I am not a teacher.

In hindsight, the title may be too harsh, but the letter itself is just an attempt to show how these amazing teachers have influenced me. It is a credit to their skills and passions to educate the next generations that flow through SCPS’s doors.

We all have our opinions, have our own experiences with the school. For some SCPS was the best thing that ever happened in their life, others feel an indifference towards the school. I respect your opinions and your right to express them, even those who disagree with me. I appreciate those who have taken the time to respond to my blog and have voiced their opinions. I hope that this post helps to clarify the intentions of my letter.

Savannah Christian: A school that doesn’t foster the growth of students.

Savannah Christian Preparatory School(SCPS) has, over the past five years, slipped from being highly esteemed in the community to being disrespected by the alumni and the parents. I have personal accounts of families warning other prospective families not to send their children to SCPS because of the lack of respect the upper administration has for the teachers (the teachers who do the most to foster and develop your children), the people who influence your children the most after you, the parents. There have been a handful of teachers outside of Hancock Day School, my elementary School, that have influenced me significantly, and five of them have been fired. And who is to say that others won’t be?

Here is the letter I plan on sending to the Middle School and the Headmaster, concerning the latest rounds of firing of teachers:

It has come to my attention through Twitter that certain a Ms. Davis, who has taught in the Middle School since 2009 and has long been a substitute teacher, was fired recently as well as Ms. Fidler, Ms. Duffy, and Coach Wuest. As an alumna of SCPS, I would like to take the time to explain and to convince why the recent decisions of the Middle School administration is of poor taste.

In 2006 I transferred from one of the best elementary schools in Savannah, Hancock Day School to SCPS (Hancock did not offer a Middle School and High School program).  I proceeded to earn straight As in middle school as a student athlete, taking the academic electives over the goof-off classes while participating on the Pep Squad, Cheerleading, Soccer teams,and various other clubs. However, the academics were of sub-par, even in the advanced classes. This was not always the fault of the teachers as the academic standards and curriculum is decided by the department heads and the principles. Most of my middle school career was spent reviewing topics that I learned in fourth and fifth grade, even second grade, especially in the English classes. Yes, there were classes and teachers who taught me a significant amount but not every class was this way. 

In January of 2009, Ms. Davis was hired as a permanent sub for the eighth grade English classes (if I remember correctly both regular and advanced) as the previous teacher was on maternity leave. At the time I was in Adv. English and planning on taking Adv. English in ninth grade with the aspiration of taking AP English later on; therefore, it was of the up most importance to both my parents and myself that the Middle School English curriculum prepare me for the demanding English courses of the High School. I knew several students who had older siblings that had gone the Advanced track in the MS and moved into the Advanced/Pre-AP English in ninth grade. They said that they were not prepared for the rigor of the High School English class. They wished the Middle School had prepared them better. When Ms. Davis stepped into the role of our new teacher, she went straight to business. One of the first things she said was that the High School English courses were much harder than what we were used. (She had first hand experience as her eldest daughter was in High School at SCPS.) She wanted to try to bring us up to par and to prepare us. She wanted us to succeed in the next level.

After entering the ninth grade and completing the first semester of Adv. English, I knew that there would have been no way that I could have managed the B that I had if Ms. Davis had not held us to that high standard. She made us write timed essays on a range of topics to ensure that we were accustomed to the idea of spitting out a coherent essay in 40 minutes. Honestly, I would have failed the first English timed essay if it hadn’t been for Ms. Davis.

Also, she took her time grading the essays and our written work, ensuring that each student’s work had constructive comments. She was approachable making it easy to ask her advice when we struggled to fix her corrections. It is to her and a few others among a small group of English teachers that I have had over my 15 years of schooling that I accredit my writing success to. I recently finished my second year at Georgia Tech. I am currently working at my second Journalism Internship. I am strong writer, with a strong style. I have received praise for my writing from friends, professors, and bosses. I perform well under time pressures. Because of her I was able to define my style. It is because of her I learned to love writing again. It is because of her that I find myself successfully pursuing a Journalism career. It is because of her that I learned that academic writing could be as easy as creative writing. It is because she set the basis, the ever-important rock foundation that later teachers and professors were able to build off of. It is her I have to thank.

I am not the only student that she has touched. Soon after that semester, Ms. Davis went on to become a full-time staff member of the SCPS MS, if I remember correctly. She taught both History and English. She called students to a higher standard whether they be in advanced or regular. She made sure that students understood that is the student himself who earns the grade, through their work or lack thereof. No teacher, no parent is responsible for what grade a student makes. She was fostering a new generation of students who were not entitled to an A, but a generation of students that were willing to come to class and do the work for the A.

Aren’t those the kinds of students that SCPS wants to boast about? Those that have a love for learning and academia. Shouldn’t you want to push students to work for their A? Shouldn’t you focus on not creating an entitled generation? Don’t you want teachers that push and encourage students? Don’t you want teachers that take these students and mold them into God-fearing, intelligent beings that will better the world? That is what MS. Davis did. Each student will tell you that she impacted their life in one way or another. Each student has a reason to love her, respect her. Each student has a reason to thank her.

As for the other teachers who were also distastefully fired, I have the upmost esteem for them. Ms. Fidler was an amazing Math teacher, who broke down the concepts of Math effortlessly. I used her tricks for years afterwards. My grade in her class soared from not-so-great to one of the highest in just a quarter because she took the time out of her schedule to approach me and to help me. She was the one who pointed out that I could be successful in Math, that I was a gifted Math student. She found a talent in me that I didn’t even knew I had. She nurtured the Math “youngling” in me. Her Latin class has stuck with me for what is now nine years, as well.  Ms. Duffy’s passion for History drove me to fall even more in love with History. I loved talking with her after class about what we were learning in class. She was full of interesting facts. She also nurtured my love for History. She let me grow and expand in it, at a time when it is so important. She let me decided what was right and wrong in History. She provided the facts and let me run with it. Coach Wuest pushed me on the soccer field and in the classroom to another level. The amount I learned and developed in his class is exponential. I have heard many, many times on several occasions that Coach Wuest’s class was the only English class that they learned anything in. His class was the first time that I had been exposed to non-creative writing in an English class. It opened a new world to me, one that would drive me to Journalism.

I hope you have realized that by firing her and the others, you have only hurt the school’s name. This is one act in a long list of events over the past five to six years that soiled the name and image of SCPS. As you know Savannah is a small town that gossip and news flies through. Acts like this leave the SCPS community in a negative state of being and impacts the decisions of prospect families. I can personally tell you that I know of people who have told families new to the area not to send their children to SCPS because the school doesn’t value the teachers and the drive to educate the students to be competitive with the students who apply for Ivy and second tier schools. The foundations of those students start in Elementary School, continue through Middle School, and develop in High School aided by teachers like Ms. Davis, Ms. Fidler, Ms. Duffy, and Coach Wuest.

Sincerely,
Katherine Hewitt
SCPS Class of 2013
Georgia Tech Class of 2017. International Affairs.
http://www.ka2t.wordpress.com

Behind Every Idea is an Economic Issue

As a former Economics major, when I look at certain policies proposed and platforms issued for humanitarian aid groups, I am constantly looking at the economic side of the idea.  Every action that you will want to take will have a side affect in the economy, and sometimes (most likely) it will be against a group/idea that they claim to support.

Many organizations look for ways that governments can redirect spending to aid those in need around the world.  I think we can all agree that the ideas laid down in the UN Millennium Development Goals would be a significant project to complete; however, it is not feasible from an economic standpoint.  There must be losers and winners.  (Even in communism and fascism there are losers and winners despite the philosophies striving for equality and the end to using people as a means for the ends.)

There are reasons that certain economic principles are in place. For example the subsidies that U.S cotton farmers receive.  Yes, that money could be used for some amazing utilitarian project. But let me ask, What happens to these farmers and the U.S. market when we take those subsidies away???

Basic econ lesson: Subsidies are usually but in place because a good that country A produces can be produce cheaper in Country B, whether that be to tariffs, access to raw material, ect. If country A wants to protect the makers of the good, they let the sellers sell their commodity at the World Price for a loss.  That is where the subsidy comes in: to make up for the difference.

If the U.S were to redirect this money or even a portion of this money for helping the poor of another nation, then the U.S. has to deal with thousands of farmers who have lost their livelihood and can’t afford to contribute to the economy, which only causes a downward spiral.(One’s spending is another’s income.)  The U.S. would then be stuck trying deal with increased poverty rates and the adverse side affects that go along with it within their own borders.  And a country has a duty to protect its citizens first before helping those of another country.  It is why we willingly go along with rules and regulations because we hope that government will protect us and our rights and security.

Are Borders Immoral

No, state borders are not immoral. Borders define a country’s domain, where the authority of the leaders stretches to. What happens inside the borders may be immoral, but not the borders themselves. Borders help people to identify with others like themselves, with people who share the same culture, beliefs, and language. They promote nationalism and patriotism. People are loyal to their country (defined by borders) and the government that rules within the borders. And as MacIntyre states patriotism keeps us dedicated to a society and in line, morally. We don’t go off into a State of Nature and do what we like to protect ourselves. Borders define an area that we are loyal to and thus, want to work to promote the best for that nation as well as an area that should protect our rights and freedoms.

Borders can appear to be immoral on the surface by being closed to immigrants. However, now-a-days states don’t just close off borders for the sake of having a closed nation. A state decides to turn away, deport, limit the number of immigrants because they threaten the system, not because the immigrants are violent, but because there are too many of them or they don’t appear to be contributors to society. The immigrants get in the way of the state trying to protect and provide for their own citizens. It would be immoral to not respect the rights of the citizens.

Greece has this problem as it is seen as the door to the EU from the Middle East and Northern Africa. Greece is flooded by refugees, mainly, who don’t contribute to the economy. Especially, with the recent economic situation in Greece that doesn’t appear to be bettering, Greece can’t afford the immigrants. The culture in Greece is very open and their policies reflect that as the immigrants can have access to the social programs offered; but, with the increase in the number of immigrants the little money devoted for welfare programs doesn’t go as far and Greek citizens are being deprived of the rights that their government promised them. This is exactly the welfare problem that Abizadeh discusses.

Another example of one of the liberal arguments for closed borders Abizadeh presents is the protection of culture with immigration. This can been seen better in Brussels, Belgium, where the population is significantly from the middle east, where the culture is very different from the Dutch/French mixed culture in Belgium. In some areas, there can’t not be bakeries because they don’t coincide with the Middle Eastern cultural food laws. It makes sense for the Belgian government to limit immigrants because they are destroying the native culture.

Global Poverty and Distributing Aid

Combating global poverty has long been a concern for individuals. More recently non-state and state actors have entered the field. They have recognized that by helping other nations and their people live better lives the relations in the International world can proceed more smoothly. States in which the population is taken care of will bring more prosperity to the nation as a whole, as more people are able to work and consume, and provide security Internationally.

However, problems develop with how to go about reducing global poverty. Two main paths have developed: the utilitarian and deontological arguments. The utilitarian argument proposes that the if one can give away some of their resources to the worse off then they can provide help to the greatest number of people. The deontological side argues that the rights of people should be respected and fixed without concern to the overall utility.

Solving the global poverty issue is two-fold. Yes, we should help those who are considered to be members of the global poor by any means necessary, whether that be donating money to the Red Cross, buying products that support movements, doing field work, etc. The second part, however, is that of addressing the problems that cause these global injustices. This way resources can be reserved, and in the long term there will be less need to intervene to fix issues. Thus, in a way solving this issue relies on both the utilitarian and deontological arguments as we should work pass the threshold of poverty but we should also work past it by addressing institutional issues.

Look at health programs such as the guinea worm program headed up by the Carter Center. They don’t just cure people with the disease, the volunteers work to create clean water sources and educate people about the spread of the disease to prevent new cases from developing and returning. This is the only way to successfully eradicate the disease and improve people’s lives. If this approach works for health issues, then it can be applied to other issues such as creating stable environments for people to have work and access to education.

Justice in Feminism

The feminist position on justice begins at the foundation and beginning of the concept of justice, that all human beings deserve protection of their natural right to freedom and protection of property in private and public life. However, they reject Rawls influential Theory of Justice on the grounds that his idea of brining social equality to all by removing yourself from your self-interests and positions under the veil of ignorance when making social contracts did not apply in the home. Thus, women were not given equality in the private sphere of society.

Most feminists reject communitarianism because it places too much emphasis on the importance of protecting cultural heritage; and, many restricting obligations and traditions for women are rooted in their cultures. By distancing themselves from communitarianism, feminists can free women from cultural bonds.

Feminists want to see women of all classes and racial backgrounds treated equally with men in all aspects of life. The Sjoberg “Agency, Militarized Femininity, and Enemy Others” article tries to point out why this is so important. The women who joined the military have been twisted to represent something else besides the equal female. In doing so women and in particular a feminine personality have been portrayed to be unable to fight in combat.

They have to adapt to a masculine characterization to survive in the case of how the three women at Abu Ghraib (who tortured Iraqi men POWS) are described, if they don’t then they need rescuing like Jessica Lynch (who was said to be have gone down in combat and taken as a prisoner). This goes against the movement because the women are still not treated as equals because society and the military have to rationalize what happened by rejecting feminine strength.

European Union Voting and Why it’s Important

The European Union is a continually changing peace project in Europe. As it has out grown its original purpose of preventing war between France and Germany, the Union has had to discover and adapt to its new purpose.

Habermas argues, as part of his critical theory view, that how the EU evolves is by increasing citizen participation within the EU because the people’s involvement increases the legitimacy of the state’s authority.

In 2007 the European Union signed the Lisbon Treaty after realizing that voter participation was very low and was continuing to decrease. Many citizens felt that the EU was a distant, irrelevant government that tried to dictate rules from Brussels. The Lisbon Treaty (which came into affect in 2009) would increase democratic principles in the EU and allow greater opportunity for participation. Some examples would be the Citizen Initiative (1 million EU citizens sign a petition for proposing a law to the Commission), increasing Parliament’s powers, having laws passed by national parliaments, etc.

The MEPs and Commissioners knew that the EU would lose relevance and authority if the citizens did not feel connected to their government at the national and supranational levels. Voter participation was 43% in the 2009 election. So, how is the government to reflect the people when less than half of the EU population is politically active? The hopes of the increase in democratic participation with the passing of the Lisbon Treaty would give the institution more respect as it would be reflecting the citizens wants better.

However, 2014 Parliamentary Election (the first elections since the Lisbon Treaty came into force) voter turnout was only 42.54% with some newer MS with only 13% turnout like Slovakia. With these results did the Lisbon Treaty fail in its job to involve citizens or are they just slow to come around to these big changes?

Patriotism or Culture:Where does Morality Come From??

In the International scene morality is just not a philosophical idea that is put forth to make one’s self feel better. It is a way to justify actions and prevent world atrocities. But how do we develop a sense of morality. Is it inherent like Morgenthau believes or do we learn from the societies we live in and the relationships we develop? While arguing for their different schools of thought McIntyre and Kant explore this idea of where morality developed. For starters McIntyre is a Communitarian while Kant is a Cosmopolitan; therefore, they are coming from a different political ideology background to discuss world morality.

Both do pull from a liberal idea of the State of Nature that Hobbes puts forth. Kant states that each nation is like an individual in a state of nature protecting their interests in anyway possible (The nation’s full focus is on war to do so.) To stop this war mindset in the International World, each nation must come together in a federation (social contract) to protect each other’s security and rights.

McIntyre pulls from the idea that we move out of state of nature into a social contract, but within our own nations as individual men. For him, unlike Kant, what drives us to stay in a social contract within our own nations is Patriotism. However it is this dedication to our own country, culture, language, etc. that holds us back from entering into a world social contract.

Both also focus on a desired morality that keeps us within our social contract (whether its at the state level or International level). McIntyre believes our patriotism cultivates a system of morality, but Kant states that it is culture that morality comes from.

I don’t believe that McIntyre’s counterargument of Cosmopolitanism is a thorough as Kant’s argument for it. McIntyre will only pull out the information that will work well to prove his point of Communitarianism. He doesn’t go into every little detail and give multiple examples to explain his counterargument, while Kant does do this.

State of Trying

Using the ideas of Thomas Hobbes as a reference point, Hedley Bull in his article “Society and Anarchy in International Relations” tries to explain how individual states work together in an international community/society. The feeling I got from the reading was that you can essentially treat each state as an individual within the community, being the international community. We are in a “sate of nature” because there is no government/organization that sets out laws, norms, morals to protect our natural rights and freedoms. Each state-“individual” must defend their life, liberty, and property in any way they see fit in order to survive.

If we were to look more closely at the principles of Thomas Moore, man is moved by passions and people are cunning and crafting. To put in the context of the reading that states can be the so-called individual then states are moved by passions and are cunning. They have a fear of being dominated and a desire to dominate and thus deceive other states and don’t trust the political words of others. There would constantly be fighting and war and life would be indeed be “nasty, poor, solitary, brutish, short.”

I see that nations are trying to come together in this so-called international state of nature. There are international institutions like the EU, UN, ICC, alliance of South Asian states. But I will note these countries come together because they have shared sense of regional community or values. The sate of nature which develops into a sate of war is not as present because the nations understand that war will not solve their issues, and only damage themselves in the process. (That was the point of the EU to prevent war between France and Germany, and hasn’t that been successful? There has been no continental war since WWII.)

But even within these “social contracts” like the EU, there are state of nature issues. While the states have a general norms background, they have different interests. Sometimes these interests get in the way of the rules of law and morality set out by the laws of the EU. The nation doesn’t want to comply because it doesn’t want to give up its sovereignty to the international society. Take the ICC. They are having problems arresting/detaining those involved in the situation in the DRC because certain member states and non-members don’t turn in the suspects because they have personal interests with the suspect’s political party or country.