Saturday, May 31, 2008

What do you live for?

I read an article over a month ago that still has me thinking. It was by Ken Potts in the Daily Herald. In it he is addressing teen suicide, but he refers to an important psychologist named Rollo May who says that too often we talk about the reasons why someone would take their own life and instead we should be talking about why the rest of us don't.
May contended that our society is doing an increasingly poor job in imparting to our young people any sense of positive meaning to life. We more often stress quick and easy answers, short-term reward, conspicuous consumption, getting ahead at the expense of others, ends justifying means.

Whether these values get played out in our families, our jobs, television, politics or organized religion; whether they lead to drug abuse, white collar crime, or "whoever dies with the most toys wins," the message eventually gets across to our youth: this is what life is all about.

"If, indeed, these do reflect our reason for living, is it any wonder that some of us choose not to?"... We as a society, and as parents, must begin to teach our children the values that we truly believe give meaning to life. Of course, we must have discovered these for ourselves if we are to pass them on to others.

May certainly offered no simple solution to the tragedy of adolescent suicide. In fact, he predicted they will continue. Yet he did suggest that there is hope if we can begin to more clearly express to our youth that there are indeed reasons to live.

Young people are in such a bubble during their high school and college years. They don't really have a meaningful place in our society anymore. Years ago, a young person would be expected to help the family by earning income, helping around the farm or running the family store or business, but now young people work to earn their own spending money usually at a large corporate conglomerate (Old Navy-Gap-BR, etc...) There is less of an opportunity for them to feel as though they are a meaningful part of their community or family. That is one of the goals I have for our community service experience. I want to help students realize that there is necessary and meaningful work to be done, and they can do it. What do you think? Is there a meaningful gap in young people's lives? Does community service help to fill this gap in meaning in young people's lives? And if it is not related to community service, what do you live for? Where is the meaning in your life?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Racism at Wrigley

All over the blogosphere and on facebook, sociologically mindful Chicagoans have been revolting against this Cubs Shirt that was originally being sanctioned by the organization. The T-shirt makes fun of the difficulty of pronouncing the letter "L" by many East Asian cultures, especially Japanese. I don't think that the many Cubs fans buying this are overtly racist. I am sure they think it is a funny shirt and that they support their Japanese import, Fukudome. But this type of making fun of an ethnicity or race as an acceptable part of culture is the type of latent racism that lies in wait to rear its head when a more pressing issue arises (the immigration issue, World War II internment, post-911 defamation of Muslim Americans). I support those working to bring attention to this rather offensive tee-shirt. Hopefully they educate fans to think beyond their own sense of humor and consider the larger effects of their cultural assumptions.