To The End Of Forever And More

I will be honest. I am not one who excels at writing speeches that convey my emotions as I want them to. To be completely truthful, I can convey almost all emotions through writing but my own. And what more is there to say? I am sure all of it has been said before.

In all honesty, I didn’t like this class when I first came in. I am not talking about world literature only, but I am talking about the entire graduating class of 2018. As someone who had just transferred in into a new country and a new school in his freshmen year of high school, I didn’t quite feel accepted into this culture of ICS. There were already very strong bonds in place between the friend groups of this class, and I didn’t feel like I could quite possibly integrate into a group under those circumstances. And so, I didn’t try too hard either.

So yes, when I first came in, I didn’t like this class. I had wished and often wondered as to what might have happened if I had come into a class above or below this. And if I confess, I always saw me getting along better with those classes than this one.

But that was then. Then is not now. Now I can confidently say that I am glad that I was placed in this class. Sure, it took a while, but that made the journey more worthwhile. I still don’t know a lot of you as well as I might have liked to, but I know enough. We may not be the best of friends, but it won’t take that for me to be up here now and tell you that I will miss all of you.

The time has come to leave. And I have been in denial this entire time. I didn’t want to leave because it was so comfortable here. And you all have a lot to do with that. And I still don’t want to leave. And as cheesy as it may sound, as repetitive as it may be, I do want to state that even if our time is up, and even though none of our paths may ever cross again, the memories I have gained for the past 4 years I have been in this class- I will cherish till the end of forever, and then forevermore.

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Damage and Healing

And here’s a phrase that I have come across and said way too many times this year- “This world is fundamentally broken.” With that said, what are the implications of such a broken world and what brokenness can we zero in on during the time the book Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton was written.

The external brokenness in this literary work is easy to identify. What it comes down to is racism. I believe everyone will agree that it will be an impossibility to talk about the book without bringing this issue to mind. The problem of racism is a prominent and blatant one. That’s exactly what Apartheid was- racism. And that is exactly what the greatest external brokenness of that period was. And Paton’s answer and solution to this fundamentally global problem is one that is extremely idealistic- forgiveness. It doesn’t make sense. Forgive the oppressors? Logic would dictate that this would be the last possible answer anyone would come to after hundreds of years of abuse and being beaten down time and time again. But the catch is that it happened. And the bigger mystery is that it happened successfully and still serves as an example to be followed in conflicts by the rest of the world everywhere. It happened and it was successful. The ideal was achieved, even if for a while. That is Paton’s solution. A solution that unbeknownst to him was to be carried out at the moment of judgement. A solution that he himself helped create. A solution that makes no sense. A solution that brings light back to humanity and highlights all that is not yet wrong with humanity. A solution deemed impossible, carried out by an entire country. A demonstration contrary to the adverseness of human nature that we are used to and a demonstration that underlines the best of humanity.

The internal damage is a bit more complicated. But then again, it’s overly blatant as well. The internal brokenness in my opinion in the book is greed. It is greed alone that led to the system of Apartheid. It is the greed to be wealthy that caused the upper class to push down the ones below them. It is greed alone that corrupted. It is greed alone because of which money became a symbol of corruptness and negativity. But then again, it is also greed because of which the human race has progressed as far as it has. One can argue that without greed society would not have needed to develop. Ruthless greed brought on weapons that can destroy the world, but it also brought on advances that can sustain the world. It single-handedly destroyed the world and also gave us ways to sustain it. And thus the solution that Paton hints at for this problem is not very apparent. It’s easy to shift into the spiritual domain at this point and yes, I believe that ultimately, that is the key to fixing not only this, but every inner brokenness. But perhaps a more direct way he offers a solution is by stressing how greed must never cross certain boundaries. We can’t stop being greedy, but we can stop it’s effects if we take into account that in being greedy for something, we must never hate someone else.

That is the answer that I can derive as a solution to this problem from the book. And that is the solution that I will personally try to live by as I progress through life from now on. Maybe it won’t change the world. But even if it impacts a handful few, that raises the potential threshold for revitalizing change by leaps and bounds. That is the ideal I strive for.

-Raving Ranter

“Othering”- A social dilemma

I am not really sure what to write on this blog, but i will make an attempt nonetheless.

The concept of “othering” is not new to me. It has one that i have had to deal with for much of my life and honestly, we all have to deal with this for the rest of our lives as well. Because the idea of how othering is the “central to the way in which societies establish identity categories” (Zevallos 1) is an overwhelmingly sad, but undeniably true statement that governs our society today, and at the rate we are going, will continue to dominate how we form social relations far in the future as well.

I grew up in Bangladesh where I was always branded as the “Christian kid” and quite blatantly I have often heard my peers there refer to me as someone who does not belong with them. The mentality can be best described as an “Us vs him” disposition. So from early childhood, this was a concept that had been well ingrained into my brain. But it’s unfair to just lay it all on them. This mentality went both ways. Subtle as it may have been, the fact that I was different from “them” never left my mind. As a Christian I had to act differently. I had restrictions they didn’t and they had restrictions I did not have. Wherever I went within the confinements of the school, this was a notion that I had no escape from, and rightfully so, because this concept does exist and leading up to my experiences in life, I find this unavoidable.

Even here at ICS I see this concept play out in day do day interactions. It’s not a surprise that grades are often divided into cliques by nationality. This is how we reinforce our identity. We find similar- minded people and we stick to them while we refer to groups that we see around us as and in our subconscious we mark and label them despite our best intentions. It is something that none of us can guard against, and if we could guard against it, it would be at the expense of greatly diminishing our personal identity or even losing it. A group identity is strong because it exists in a group that has other groups to compare that identity against. Will we ever be able to escape this mentality, individually or as a group? I don’t know yet, and apparently sociologists and psychologists don’t have the answer to this question either. This is how we have survived this far, and perhaps this is how we will continue to live on in the future as well. Is there a real point to questioning it then? There definitely is, but as to what point or what conclusion we can arrive at, I don’t know.

Definitely this concept of othering has been lessened. No longer in today’s society do we see the prejudiced actions outlined in the book Cry The Beloved Country play out on a global or national scale to the extent it once had. And that is a good thing. It shows as a race we have been making progress. We don’t divide up quarters for Whites and Blacks anymore. Schooling is no longer divided into sections. This problem has not ceased to exist but it has been greatly minimized. As a race as a whole, we are all the more wiser for it. But will we ever reach a point where we will be able to relate to and love everyone without marking or labeling them in our heads at all? I don’t believe so, but that doesn’t mean it will stop me from trying.

 

-Raving Ranter

How to write about poets

It’s quite possibly the simplest thing really. But you are not allowed to say that. Build up an air of subdued tension and use as many dramatic shifts and turns in narrations as possible. Even the simplest of statements should be comprised of nothing less than three lines connected by symbols, dashes or anything else you can find in the middle. But that is just the natural way you are to pace out your syntax and diction. Here’s the real framework. Once again it’s simple. Assume nothing but that being a poet requires an experience so scarring and shocking, that almost none of your audience members should be able to live through it the same way.

Poets battle depression, they have seen wars, they have all been on the verge of suicide, they have lived life how they wished and now they either regret it, or they are still stuck in a perpetual cycle of depression. To write about poets, you need to make the fact that they have struggled more than any other number of people on this planet abundantly clear. Oh and yeah, never, and I mean NEVER even consider the fact that a poet can come from a happy past, a happy childhood, can be born of happy memories or can be good poets just because it is something they enjoy. No, it has been, and will always have to be much more dramatic and ground-breaking than that!

Now that you have set up the fall, time to prepare for the redemption. Find some ever increasingly pretentious or self righteous way to describe how at the worst point in their lives, the people aforementioned turned to poetry. This is a truth. But you need to make it more than that. Creative outlets save people for sure, but you also need to dramatize it’s importance to each and every poet there is, was and ever will be. As I said before- no poet ever came to be one out of happiness. That just doesn’t work! Mention how poetry served as an expressive medium for them, and then mention how much they struggled along to find their true selves even when writing poetry. Also, whatever you do, don’t forget the occasional mention of trauma, suicide and depression that should be sprinkled in every so often to keep the tome dark and brooding.

Lastly, commit a major fallacy in logic. Every passage you can find of a poem written by poets- mis-translate them to fit your needs. There is a saying that no interpretation is the wrong interpretation. Take that to the precipice. All of this needs to be supported by as much as ‘evidence’ as you can gather up. If there is a poet who grew up in a happy house, translate the verses he wrote to signify inner-lying depression even if no one ever considered that to be the case. As long as you can keep the quotes fairly out of context of the original poem, you should be fine. And finally, end with how life is always a battle. End with how everyone who is a poet has experienced the worst that humanity has to offer. End with how their words have reached millions and revolutionized the world. In other words, end with broad feeling-like statements that imply a happy future but at the same time also points back to how poets are always depressed and suicidal. You need to give them redemption, but you also need to give them chains that bind that redemption down.

And obviously, this goes without saying- remember that the final sentence should be as cheesy as possible, preferably, it should be the poet’s own work, but feel free to use other literary sources as well. At any rate, other than cheesy, the only qualification it has to meet is being the epitome of pretentiousness that this world has to offer. Doesn’t matter if it does not apply whatsoever to the poet you are writing this piece on. They will probably not read it anyways.

And finally. REMEMBER- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HAPPY POET! and if there ever was one, make it not be so.

-Raving Ranter.

Call to Action

I will respond to the first question here.

It’s not really a new concept is it? To invest more than what your ‘job description’ may require of you? It’s not a new saying to any of us where we should go and aid not only the people but even the society with our acquired skill set. But perhaps it is a bit too commonly used due to which it has lost the essence behind the meaning.

Let’s be honest- we live in a selfish world. In a world where it is survival of the fittest, the weak rarely ever reach the top. The people at the top will at times look down and help those at the bottom of the food chain, but never enough to help them climb towards the top either. Everyone wants to be where they are most comfortable. Going the extra mile to help is not comfortable. It’s exhausting. It’s tiring. And more importantly, it often does not have the sort of worth we tend to ascribe to materials in this worth. Is this a very bleak, pessimistic look on the world? Definitely. But consider things objectively. You will see it’s true. Forget the polar extremes. Take the average person at work. You will soon find that what I have outlined here is statistically sound. And the funny thing? Most of us, me included, are part of that average. I personally have no qualms about saying that I am that selfish average.

And that is exactly what I like about Che’s speech. I believe that when a concept is overused it ceases to be revolutionary, rather it becomes redundant to us. But every now and then, someone comes along who can phrase it in a way that brings the zealous fervour back to those very words. And Che, for me at least, has managed to do that.

I believe none of us want to live selfishly. But at the same time, I also believe that we all have, are, and will keep on going to live selfishly in our lives. At least, I know I will. But it’s a beautiful concept. To work outside what you are called to do, but to remain inside what you are called to be- it’s a remarkable concept. If we could all be social doctors, perhaps we would not need the term social doctors anymore.

Personally, I seek to be a psychiatrist or a chemist. But will I actually go the extra mile to help someone who needs it. Will I be able to help someone after office hours? Will I be able to maintain the fine line between selflessness in work and as a result selfishness in family? I don’t know. It’s a fascinating thing to think about. It’s cliche for sure, and even though I can tell you that I already knew my answer, it really helps when someone can say it better- when someone can paint words onto ideas- when someone can personalize an ideal- when a sentence resonates so much that it causes all the disarrayed thoughts to fall in order- when someone pushes down the first domino block so your thoughts can be well on their way- when someone else’s thoughts give you the nourishment necessary to think for yourself again.

-Raving Ranter.

Travel and Tourism

A moral tourist huh?

Now that’s quite an interesting way to put it. Honestly, when it comes to forms of travel, I don’t really think there should be a better way to travel. I mean, we can all say that as tourists in other countries we have to respect their traditions, cultures and habits. We can say that we must not criticize them for anything. We can say that we must not break rules, or endanger anyone or do something ‘immoral’ in another country. But what’s the point to it?

Don’t get me wrong. I know those things are important. But chances are, if we travel legally in this era we are currently at, we already know those things. In fact, I think we have been saturated with that piece of information to the point where acting out the proper behaviour in another country as a tourist becomes second nature to us. We don’t have to make a conscious effort to not break the rules the country has in place, or we don’t have to push ourselves to try and not be offensive to people or harshly critical or degrade another culture, no. The laws already ensure that. But perhaps I am talking about the wrong kinds of tourists here.

When we visit a country for amusement or sightseeing, no one in the world should be able to argue against that being a bad thing. In effect, we will surely bring along some cultures from our part of the world that may integrate into the behaviours of the people we interact with, but that’s accepted. That is an aspect to globalization that one must accept. There can no longer be a completely original or isolated culture. Modern society has already written against that. In fact, you can almost say that governments nowadays ordain an intermingling of cultures, whether it be for tourism, economy, diversity, the list goes on.

But what did I mean by the wrong kinds of tourists? My point is it doesn’t take long to figure out in this day and age that there’s a black market for everything. Every law has a loophole, and every loophole has powerful people readily exploiting it. It is in this sense that tourism can be deemed immoral. If our intentions of travel are to harm or benefit at the expense of others, then yes, we are engaging in an immoral tourism industry. But we already knew that didn’t we?

Perhaps what I am saying here is that in my mind, for now at least, the lines between tourism, moral and immoral, are quite finely drawn. Should the intentions and follow through lean towards what society deems moral, and should our actions line up with what the global laws, and the countries’ law dictates, I see no problem with such travel. But perhaps that is privy to change in the upcoming days. Who knows?

-Raving Ranter

Dhaka.

Welcome to the capital of Bangladesh. The heart of the country. And just as the human heart is quartered and sectioned into parts that work effortlessly together, so is this urban sprawl representative of different sections that embody the types of people, architecture and financial cores of the country.

Travel to the heart of the city and you will find traditional British architecture and houses. The roads and train tracks give way from post colonial style and you are immediately brought into an era of conquest and oppression, but undoubted advancement of the country because of that. Beside that, you will find the main city army base, singing praises to the country that now stands as a separate identity, free from colonial rule, and the oppression of other regional countries. From the center with British style architecture to the main segments- it’s a smooth transition. Blink and you will miss it. It’s almost as if it’s one section instead of two that blends into each other. Here, in the main section you have the upper middle class and government buildings, bringing focus to the new country- proud and tall. Unmoving. Next is the economic sector of the city. A place bustling with activity, but irreparably stalled with traffic and an inability to escape without spending 4 hours in the area if you happen to wander in.

But those are distinct sectors. Let’s focus on something a bit more vague. Look closely enough, and the city becomes a battleground. Within the distinct segments of the city rise churches and mosques, bringing attention to their respective followers and others who are searching for answers. Bangladesh as a whole is a Muslim country, but the capital itself is involuntarily divided into religious quarters between all the four major world religions.

In other words, Dhaka is a city that will provide you with whatever you may want. Be it recreation, finance, appreciation of history, Patriotic fervor or just entertainment or residence. Just that, be willing to deal with the immense pollution and gradually improving but still weak infrastructure of the city with no distinct beginning nor end.

-Raving Ranter

Short Story Analysis

Things I did not understand/was not familiar with-

  • Mahua Tree- A tree often used for it’s leaves where food can be kept or offerings can be offered before the gods or people of power.
  • Sarai- a term for a guesthouse, or a restaurant where people can come and stay for the night and eat.
  • Chudel- the word can be best translated as meaning a female witch, or a female ghost. It is seen as a grave insult and dehumanizes the person it is being spoken to.

Analysis-

In this heartbreaking short story, the Dalits, or those of the lower class are portrayed as humans without rights, and often time, they are not considered to be human at all. The way they are treated, and the way the Brahmins react to them is more reminiscent of what people do when they encounter animals or garbage. Quite literally, the dalits are not seen as people, and the caste system ensures that they can be freely exploited, mistreated, and then discarded by those in positions of power i.e Brahmins. Their suffering is seen as mindless and their worth in the society seems to amount to nothing next to the Brahmins who represent the epitome of the hierarchical structure of the caste system.

But as much as we may condone the Indian society for this behavior, as this is something that is still going on in many villages and regions to this day, it is also a practice that the Indian society is founded on. It is deep and complex in the fact that there is no concrete solution to the problem. It is often difficult to address as people who are opposed to this change are more often than not in the higher echelons of society or elders who are deeply respected and whose words are considered to be law. The fact that makes this issue even more complicated is the practices’ connection to religion. This treatment, although grotesque and unfair to our eyes, forms the cornerstone of Hinduism, and hence, Indian culture. To change this would be to challenge decades and centuries of practices and widely held beliefs and traditions, which in and of itself, can be contradictory to the universal declaration of human rights that we are striving to protect.

However, change is happening. If it’s not a direct radical change, it’s a gradual, steady change that is resulting in the region through education and greater awareness of practices and a broader mindset of the entire world. Sure, the issue is complex and multifaceted, but the agents of change are the very people who have dealt with this from an early age, and no matter how it is looked at- progress is happening. Equality and justice are more prevalent than ever before in the Indian society.

The wishes and desires of many are finally taking shape. Fruition is only a stepping stone away.

-Raving Ranter.

Social Issues

First off before I begin I would like to state my grievances on writing about topics such as these. The problem I have with these topics is that when I do write about them, I feel so powerless and almost downright depressed to see all these injustice around us and knowing that even though we may have the power to change a few things, acting on that is something that is still a ways away.

Perhaps the most intriguing concept that I learned about in this unit was the cycle of crime that poverty brings along that is brought about by the cycle of movement from rural to urban areas, which can be classified in the broader cycle of urbanization and urban crime. It is all painstakingly connected, intricately balanced and intertwined. In effect, the root of these problems are often not one, but numerous, each which have to be dealt with swiftly and effectively to successfully combat the problem. Focus too much on one, and the others get out of hand, but focus equally in all, and we sacrifice efficiency and fast progress for a defensive outlook rather than eradication. But then again, can these problems ever truly be eradicated? I do not know. These are hard questions to think about, ones that evade direct answers, ones that constantly claw at the government and frustrate the citizens.

Are we powerless against these then? Perhaps, but then again, not necessarily. These are not problems that only exist within the scope of the government, but we as responsible citizens need to step up as well, and the global community also needs to get involved. If we mobilize all that we have, surely no problem can be insurmountable. Surely the good will of millions can’t go to waste right? But that is the problem right there.

In my opinion, we often lean towards a very strong government when it comes to these problems. We put the government in a position of contradiction. We want all our freedoms intact, yet we restrict the government by saying what they can or cannot do, and at the same time, while we do not assist them, we are quick to criticize how they can get nothing done. We blame them when they raise taxes for welfare or when they take any stance on these as any potential solution is to offend a number of people. Is this the right attitude? Aren’t we just blaming the government then to avoid blame? Are we covering up for our inaction by making those who have the power to take action unable to follow through with it?

Sure the very notion of a government exists for the people, but the government IS made out of people. And i believe we can all agree that people gain power, strength, motivation, and empowerment in numbers. We can’t function alone, and hence theory would point to an ideal society being when all citizens take part in decision making and do so sincerely while being willing to compromise and often times sacrifice their own ideals and views for the greater good. But how does one truly describe the concept of the greater good? So perhaps it is just our apathy and failure to take a stance that results in these never-ending cycles. But then again, this may all be coming from the deluded and overly passionate mind of a teenager with no idea as to how the complex and real world outside the walls of school, novels and home operates.

-Raving Ranter

Karma and Suffering

Honestly, I do not know how to respond to this blog because the topics presented are beyond huge. The implications that a possible answer may carry are beyond life-changing and honestly, that is a scary thing to realize. But also, I do not know how to respond to this blog because each of these questions are ones that philosophers have wondered for ages….and yet, these questions are still so prevalent as they cannot be answered uniformly for everyone.

Can a good God or controlling force exist in a world of so much suffering and evil?  

This has been a question that had plagued me for an excruciatingly long amount of time when I was growing up. My parents had left it up to me to decide on what I believed on even after they taught me all there was to about Christianity. Even then, this was the main aspect that I couldn’t make sense of no matter how much I thought about it. How can a good God allow evil, and if He does allow evil, can He be good?

As Robert Frost writes in his poem Design-

What but design of darkness to appall?–
If design govern in a thing so small.

So what is it then? If we are to take the existence of a Creator as a given, can we really assume Him to be all-powerful, or can we assume that He is good? Perhaps he isn’t, or perhaps He is a creator who created the world and then forgot all about us. But whatever the conclusion I seemed to reach, it starkly contrasted with the loving, kind, compassionate and caring nature of Him that Christianity sought to establish.

But no. The answer for me still came back to the same Christian God that seemed to make no sense to me towards the beginning. This conclusion was something I arrived to myself. I do not intend to force any convictions on you and neither do I want to sound like I have it all figured out and what I came up with is the truth. Far from it, I am still only beginning to see these things that I did not before, and doubtless they are subject to change and modification over time as new experiences come my way and I am shaped more by the people around me as they influence my life.

The answer I reached to the question above was love. I came to the conclusion that not only did God love us, but He loved us so much that He was willing to let go and make us reach decisions on our own. And that to me is the key. He loved us enough to let go. He loved us enough that even when He knew the mistakes we would make, He was willing to watch us suffer in the hopes that we, by our own choice, would turn to Him one day and return the love that He has bestowed upon us. This is the Agape love that is such an alien concept to us. So yes. Suffering exists, but it is only because we failed ergo, we failed in making good decisions.

-Raving Ranter