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MTV’s Effects on Children

 

What we see and experience throughout the lifespan is influential in that it tells us how to act, how to react, and what is considered normal in a given society.  Television is and has been for many years one of the guiding sources for many in their daily lives, whether it is over the decision of where to eat, what to wear, and even how to enjoy one’s free time.  TV is quite possibly responsible for the way that many live their lives and make the majority of their decisions, and children are no exception.   Being young, inexperienced and very impressionable, young children are far more susceptible to hidden messages and implied meanings that lie within television programs.

A good example of this is the channel known as Music Television, or MTV, a program that has been running since August of 1981. (Hagelin, 2005)  From its inception to present date it has showed the most edgy, racy music videos and featured shows and programs that have been deemed inappropriate and cutting-edge in that they push the envelope of decency and public acceptance.  From sexual content to adult matters MTV has gained a reputation for being the outlaw station that others cannot bring themselves to be either due to FCC regulations or a matter of ethical and moral standing.

The content of the average show that airs on MTV is considered almost exclusively for adults, which includes cartoons such as Aeon Flux and Beavis and Butthead, which are both watched by children of varying ages.  While the cartoon nature of the shows appeals to children the content is decidedly far too advanced and, more to the point, abrasive for young kids to fully absorb.  Children do not develop the social filters that allow them to realize what is acceptable and what is not until a certain age, and when allowed to watch such channels as MTV they are subjected to situations, language, and content of the sort that can easily cause confusion and spur them to act out in public, imitating what they have seen on television as it is, in their mind, seen as acceptable.

Such examples of improper material would include scenes of sexuality/sensuality, abrasive language, adult situations such as excessive violence and even substance abuse by children on television. (Vitelli, 2013) While other channels do in fact feature movies and regular prime time shows that harbor such images, more often than not they are discreet and carry a decided message along with the unacceptable behavior.  MTV has continually pushed the edge in its programming since its inception, becoming widely known as the rebel amongst television stations in that it would, and still will, do anything to keep its viewers interested.  With well over a quarter of a million viewers to date the producers have obviously found a way to keep their fan base and regular viewers coming back, though it seems less than worth it as it comes at the cost of many a young child’s development.

While MTV is protected by freedom of speech and even freedom of press in some regards, it is still a caustic, deplorable station whose programming, while not designed for children, is anything but educational or even remotely appropriate.  A child’s education must come from a reliable, stable source, and MTV is anything but.

In the life of a child their first and most important teacher is always their parent, or guardian, who is responsible for allowing them to know what is real and what is false.  In regards to MTV, parents need to at least find enough time to sit and converse with their children regarding the shows they watch and to ask questions as to whether or not the child knows anyone with the problems and issues that MTV showcases. (Fetzer, 2012)  Reality TV is not reality, and this is a lesson that children should be taught first and foremost so as to dispel the illusion that television creates.

Reality TV is much like junk food, to be taken in moderation and not overdone. (Fetzer, 2012). Curiosity is natural for children, it is how they find their way through the world. The important thing is to be there as their guide, to show them the ins and outs, the rights and wrongs of what is shown and what is real. MTV is just like any other channel on television, it shows a dramatized version of life that some would wish to emulate and others realize is simply what is should be, a pleasant release from everyday life in the form of entertainment.

There is at least some correlation between children that watch too much MTV and the attitudes they display towards others, but once it is found out how much television they watch, not just one single channel, the correlation between MTV and behavior begins to seriously wane.  Despite a preference of channels there is no one program that can hope to cause the dramatic changes that studies and researchers have claimed are a direct result of music television.  Other channels that feature violent shows such as SPIKETV, FX, USA, and even AMC can be attributed with promoting violence and overly dramatic content, as well as sexual content that is not suitable for children. This is why disclaimers are posted at the beginning of each program, to insure that those who are not mature enough to watch such programming are made aware, more often by their parents that they are not to watch said programs.

As an example of its supposedly unreal and controversial programming, the show 16 and Pregnant, seen primarily by some as a demeaning and ultimately socially awkward show by some, is in essence a lean towards social responsibility.  Not only does the show feature young women who have become pregnant at a most unfortunate time in their lives, it highlights their plight and goes on to show the difficulties and consequences of having a child before adulthood. This show, while seen by some as degrading, is in effect a push towards accepting social responsibility and teaching children that while abstinence is not always going to be the most popular choice, it is far wiser to abstain or at least be protected when engaging in sexual intercourse. (Chong, 2013)

While much of MTV is shown for entertainment, 16 and Pregnant offers a much more socially responsible call to arms, as it seeks to educate and warn all at once.  In truth there is real little value in MTV’s overall programming, as it is and remains lauded as an entertainment channel, not a documentary, history, or even educational channel.

In regards to children and the effects that television has upon their learning, behavior, and attitudes, it is generally up to the parent to guide them, teach them, and instruct a child as to how be morally and ethically responsible. Television can only follow its programming, and therefore MTV is not solely responsible for what it airs.  A parent must be diligent and monitor what their child watches whenever possible, so as to at least be able to answer questions, inform their children what is entertainment and what carries more realism to it, and of course, to allow them to know what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  In the end it is the parent’s decision to allow such programming in their home, or to deny it altogether.  If nothing else there is always the OFF switch.

 

Works Cited

Chong, Rachel. “How MTV Uses Its Connection To Kids To Push Social Change.” MTV. Fast

Company & Inc. 28 May 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Fetzer, Mary. “Is MTV really bad for children?” She Knows. Parenting. 15 June 2012. Web. 26

Feb. 2015

Hagelin, Rebecca. “MTV’s” poisoning our kids.” The Heritage Foundation. n.p., 18 March.

  1. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Vitelli, Roman. “Television, Commercials, and Your Child: How much television do you, or

your children, watch in an average day?” Media Spotlight. Psychology Today, 22 July 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2015

 

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Verizon Labor Issues

 

In any line of employment people want to know that they are seen as valued individuals to the company they work for, not expendable assets to be cast away without regard. Recently a very serious issue involving Verizon and its many employees arose when issues arose with their business practices.  While there is no true way to be certain just who is in the right, the arguments on both sides seem to indicate that the veracity of the disagreements varies when taken from different points of view. There is little to no future for an employer that will sacrifice loyalty on the job for higher profit margins.

This is not the first time that Verizon has approached their employees with a proposition that met this type of opposition. In 2011 Verizon attempted to institute a long list of demands that would have seriously damaged the hard work they had put into creating a company that has become one of the most dominant corporations in the field of telecommunications (Baris, 2016).  As of last year the company came forward with another list of demands and propositions that met with even more resistance from their employees, and for good reason. As before, the company sought to think about their profit margin and make the attempt to convince their employees to accept something less than what they were already making.

The question as to who is the most important in any business is one that has been posed

in many debates and continues to be pertinent in the current day. The difference between a stable

and caring employer and an employer that is simply looking at the bottom line is that the caring

employer will realize the needs and concerns of the employees must be tended to when possible.

In many corporations it has been seen that the bottom line is all that matters for more than a few

reasons. One among them is that they can always find people that are willing to work. This is

where unions tend to fail considering that those they call “scabs” are almost always willing to

step in and perform the jobs that they are unwilling to do until their demands are met.

On the other side of this argument, employers must realize that replacing mass numbers of employees can meet with serious issues that are difficult to resolve in a short amount of time. When replacing those that have been with the company for years on end it is often seen that they must hire those that are either woefully unprepared for the rigors of the job and must be trained for extensive periods of time to meet expectations. The time, effort, and money that this takes can harm a company just as much as losing skilled workers can, which leaves the company hurting for qualified workers and losing money with each day that they are forced to depend on unskilled temporary labor. In such a situation neither side wins.

Verizon has also expressed interest in outsourcing thousands of jobs to other countries in

order to find cheaper labor. This would eliminate hundreds if not more local jobs that people rely

on and need to support their families. Benefits would be slashed and the union that Verizon

employees depend upon so heavily, which has already been reduced in size, would eventually

cease to exist.  The hiring of non-union workers would eventually eliminate many salaried jobs

and reduce the role of the average Verizon worker to an hourly wage earner. Given the time and

effort that so many have put into the company it would be akin to a slap in the face as a reward

for their hard work and dedication.

One reason that has been given for this treatment of their workers is that Verizon has

been experiencing financial difficulties throughout the last decade, claiming that they are in fact

close to bankruptcy. This claim is quite easy to dispute however considering that 1) Verizon is

one of the largest telecommunication companies in the USA, and 2) They made well over $30

billion dollars in 2016 alone (Lovelace Jr., 2016). Even with slightly decreased numbers in

revenue Verizon is in no immediate danger of filing for bankruptcy, which means that the

company’s idea to outsource jobs is seen by many to be a desperate bid to make the rich even

richer as the profit margins would be allowed to grow. In return many workers would either be out of a job or forced to accept far less for the work they provide.

It might seem like Verizon might simply fold and give into the workers that they depend upon, but in truth they have planned ahead for this. Verizon actually made a play to train hire roughly 15,000 non-union workers to come in and assume the roles of those that remained on strike, thereby maintaining service and filling an unwanted gap. Workers were obviously incensed by this, but would not be moved as the consumers were the ones that were eventually harmed by poor service given by individuals with far less training and aptitude for the job. On one hand consumers agree that it is necessary to be given adequate work conditions and be compensated in the same manner as is expected, but several have also stated that it is necessary to maintain good work practices as well. In other words, the principle that Verizon workers are attempting to stand for is admirable, but the work still needs to be done.

Were that the only problem the strike would likely still be one. But Verizon made an

attempt that many find rather despicable in light of what it would do to literally thousands of

workers and their families. On May 1st, Verizon decided to cancel all medical insurance for the

thousands of workers on strike (Boston & Turner, 2016).  It can be argued that workers on strike are not doing anything to earn their keep, but at the same time it must be recognized that unless these individuals are formally released from their place of employment, or otherwise resign, then their benefits are still expected to be paid. While this move by Verizon seems rather harsh, it is unfortunately a legal move that continued to threaten workers as they continued the strike.

In addition to shipping thousands of jobs overseas, and cancelling health coverage for the

thousands of employees on strike, Verizon was also willing to cap pension contributions after 30

years (DiMaggio, 2016).  Despite all of this, employees remained on strike, claiming daily that it was not the money that they were after, but the security. Many people went on record stating that Verizon was not only being highly disrespectful to their employees, but was actively harming their most loyal workers by denying health care and taking away jobs that were crucial to so many. In their own defense Verizon executives claimed that operating costs and other such concerns were beginning to mount up and as such demanded a new strategy on their part. It goes without saying that many employees did not believe such statements and were more than willing to continue the strike to make their point.

It is also important to note that during the strike employees were trying to push as much

as possible for the company to either revamp or push forth with their plan to improve FiOS,

which is short for Fiber Optic Service. This service is meant to improve the connection as it does

not depend upon the copper wires that cable companies use. Instead it depends upon fiber optic

cables that are not as susceptible to weather conditions and can create a much faster and more

reliable connection.  At this point the company has yet to move ahead fully with this program,

which when presented as a bundled service would be more cost effective for all those involved.

This is however a more secondary concern of those that went on strike, as funding the further

evolution of FiOS would in fact help save jobs.

What many workers agree is that corporate greed tends to get in the way of business at

times, which is commonly seen in many different areas throughout the business world. Greed can

often cause a sound business to falter or fail, or even turn a loyal and steadfast employee against

the company with minimum effort.  Protecting the bottom line of a corporation does not tend to

work as well when in order to do so the corporation must harm those that it depends upon the

most. Verizon is one of the top telecommunications giants in the world largely because of the

staying power of its employees, who on average have been with the company for fifteen years or more (DiMaggio, 2016).

That kind of dedication is becoming increasingly rare as the years go by, and as a result companies are being forced to either put a revolving door effect into place to keep operating at their expected level of efficiency, or possibly find cheaper labor overseas. The inherent problem with this is that the integrity of the product and/or service begins to lessen as more and more hands are added to the mix. This slippery slope is one that many companies have experienced in the past.  It is a gradual decline that is very difficult to halt, and one that is even harder to make a comeback from.

The strike, which lasted an unprecedented 45 days, ended in May of 2016, much to the relief of the company and its many employees. Both sides came to an agreement that was beneficial for both, and that would actually increase the number of jobs offered by Verizon. Roughly 1,300 call centers were added on the east coast alone, and the outsourcing initiative was halted, which also created more jobs for technicians in the states.  On top of this, the raises that had before the strike been proposed to raise income by 6.5 percent were raised to almost 11 percent, which was highly beneficial to all employees and their families. It was also seen that hiring bonuses were raised to a significant degree, and pension increases were instituted as well.

Many people have said that this will serve as a reminder to many large corporations that

taking care of their employees is a sure way to keep everyone happy.  The strike also highlights

the very real influence that the working person has over corporations that tend to see their people

as movable assets.  The need to remember that people are more important than the product or

services they provide is a lesson that some corporations need to be reminded of in order to keep

their operations running smoothly. By taking care of the people that take care of them, these

massive companies can insure that they will be around for many years to come.

In order to keep their employees happy and willing to work, corporations must remember what it means to rely on those that make their business work. Too often at the executive level it is easy to forget what it was like to be at the bottom, scraping by for a paycheck and earning just enough to survive. While it is easy to dismiss this kind of thinking, it is also quite dangerous in that it minimizes the plight of the average worker. Thinking that work is simply work and that the top executives are motivated not by greed but by the necessity to take care of the company is an idealistic view that is not always wrong, but is dangerously naïve at times.

The company and the employees need one another. This is a tenet of any business that needs to be remembered and lived by in order to create the necessary balance that is required to run a successful venture.  By keeping such ideas as this in perspective it becomes far more likely that a business will not only succeed, but will flourish as their employees will tend to stick around for several if not many years at a time. Employees tend to enjoy their work experience even more if they know that they are seen as a necessary component of the business, not an interchangeable piece that has no inherent value.

In the case of Verizon, the 40,000 employees that went on strike were not pushing for more money or better working conditions, but were attempting to remind the company that their needs were not being met.  From cutting pensions to outsourcing labor to other countries, Verizon was slowly surely turning its back upon the people that had helped to make it one of the greatest telecommunication companies in the United States.  Thankfully the company and the employees were able to come to an agreement that provided mutual benefits for both sides.  This strike helped the company to realize that its employees are highly dedicated to their jobs, but also appreciate being treated like human beings, not numbers.

References

Baris, M. (2016). Five Reasons to Care About the Verizon Strike. Jobs with Justice.

Retrieved from

http://www.jwj.org/five-reasons-to-care-about-verizon-contract-negotiations

Boston, A. & Turner, D. (2016). How the Verizon strike could impact workers,

employers. ABC2 News. Retrieved from

http://www.abc2news.com/business/how-the-verizon-strike-could-impact-workers-employers

DiMaggio, D. (2016). Verizon Strike Shows Corporate Giants Can Be Beat. LaborNotes.

Retrieved from

http://www.labornotes.org/2016/06/verizon-strikers-show-corporate-giants-can-be-beat

DiMaggio, D. (2016). Victory at Verizon. New Labor Forum, 26(1).

Lovelace Jr., B. (2016). Verizon beats on earnings, but revenue falls short of estimates. CNBC.

Retrieved from

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/20/verizon-to-report-third-quarter-earnings-before-the-bell.html

 

Response to Intervention

 

The practice of Response to Intervention seeks to insure that instruction of impeccable quality and necessary intervention are used to identify and respond to the needs of students. This includes the process of monitoring progress on a continual basis to affect decisions that might be made concerning any changes within the set goals or manner of instruction that the student receives and gathering data gleaned from student responses to calculate any important educational decisions.  While it is criticized as being placed solely on the shoulders of the student, RTI is instead focused on the examination of the student’s reaction to the necessary instruction and possible intervention.

RTI seeks to broaden the idea of introspection from the student’s point of view by making clear the observed behavior and learning patterns through the consideration of many other  variables that can affect a student’s educational experience. The most effective manner of implementing RIT requires a strong sense of leadership, collaborative planning and cooperation from professionals that can be found throughout the education network.  As a framework RTI is most applicable to decisions that deal with general, remedial, and special education. (Elliot, 2008)

Designed to prevent educational failure by students who are considered “at-risk”, RTI is a tool that was set into place not long after IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act) was implemented in 2004 by President Bush.(Fuchs, Fuchs, 2011)  It is a means by which schools can seek to aid their more vulnerable students against the risk of impending failure due to one identified behavior or another, and thus act accordingly when it comes to determining who needs the most help and how it might be best administered through a series of goals and tasks that will allow the affected student(s) to further their educational opportunities.

Within my school LD is not amongst the most prevalent of issues, though it is still very much a presence within the halls.  Unfortunately the diagnosis is not always as clear as one might think, since those who know they have learning disabilities are not always so quick to step forth and, more often than not, will find ways around their own shortcomings. This only insures that the testing and benchmarks set forth to identify such individuals are therefore far more vague and less meaningful when it comes to diagnosing those who are truly at-risk and those who are simply not trying for lack of motivation.

Thankfully those who are not properly motivated but do not suffer from a learning disability are creatures of habit and oftentimes show promise in other fields, and are thus given motivation in other manners that allow them to flourish rather than languish as they might prefer when pressed into performing activities that do not interest them.  Those with true learning disabilities however, in this institution, have been shown primarily as those who show a far greater exuberance towards learning but only in a closed, “safe” setting.  In this manner the school has managed to set aside two separate classrooms in which students who genuinely struggle can learn in a safe and controlled manner in an attempt to reach their goals.

Students taught in such a manner and within the specified rooms are allowed to interact with their fellow students as normal, but during class periods are allowed to return to their designated rooms where they can better focus upon their studies without the risk of falling into the behavioral patterns that otherwise would keep them from realizing their full potential.  While this is not a failsafe option it has thus far proven to be a very strong and proven method towards insuring that those students considered learning-disabled and at-risk are allowed to experience success in a manner that would not be possible otherwise.

A very beneficial strength of RTI is that it does allow for the individual to be catered to, as the different needs of each child that is identified with a learning disability will be addressed in a lesson plan that makes sense for that child.(Hale, 2008)  This allows for real learning to take place before the old model of “wait and fail” could take effect, thereby preventing the feeling of failure and insuring that the student gets the attention they need in order to succeed.  In this manner RTI is a major step up from the old methods in which those children deemed special needs or special education were often shunted into separate classrooms and given only the most basic of information to work on, insuring that they would learn next to nothing until it was deemed necessary.

A very distinct and unfortunate disadvantage in this and any other school that is required to implement RTI is that their staff has typically not been in-serviced for the role.(Resnick, 2015)  While it is highly advantageous to implement RTI and even cost-effective for most school systems, it is then the responsibility of those same systems to insure that their staff, or those who will take part in the RTI program, will become versed in how to administer the program to students and how to monitor their progress throughout. This is not to mention that they must also be able to differentiate between those students who have true learning disabilities and those students who, as mentioned above, simply lack the proper motivation.

RTI is a highly effective tool it is subject to a very delicate balance in school systems as it relies heavily upon cooperation not only from students, parents, and staff, but the efforts of the entire school system as well.  Likely it will prove to be a boon to the educational needs of many children, but only if it is closely monitored and used as it is needed, not as an excuse.

References

 

Elliot, Judy. (2008) Response to Intervention: What and Why? The School Administrator, 65(8)

Retrieved from

http://bemidji.k12.mn.us/~jpearce/S026ABBD7.0/Response%20to%20Intervention

%20%20What%20and%20Why.pdf

Fuchs, Douglas, Fuchs, Lynn S. (2011) Introduction to response to intervention: What, why, and

how valid is it? Reading Research Quarterly, 41(1) p93-99. Retrieved from

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1598/RRQ.41.1.4/abstract

Hale, James B. Ph.D. Response to Intervention: Guidelines for Parents and Practitioners.

Wrightslaw. Retrieved from

http://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/art/rti.hale.pdf

Resnick, Barbara, MS. What is Response to Intervention (RTI)? Rush Neurobehavioral

Center. Retrieved from

http://rnbc.org/

 

 

Assigning Credit and Blame

 

It is easier to accept credit than blame, and easier to attribute success to individual perseverance rather than any outside factors.  Human nature, complex as it is, derives from the two basic, most fundamental needs that have been seen to affect humanity throughout its most recognized developmental stages.  An individual will always seek to succeed in some manner, though rarely does anyone wish to take the blame when things go wrong. Rarely do humans step forward to claim the punishment that is due when something goes wrong, at least in the sense that they show any desire to take blame.  Human beings are motivated by base desires first, and societal influences second.

What this means is that if a person does something wrong, whether they know it or not, they will seek to blame someone, or something else, rather than take the responsibility.  While there are those that will step forward and accept blame, oftentimes there is some other motivation behind this, some other behavior that causes them to step forward when others will not.  Rarely will anyone step up to claim responsibility for any wrongdoing without citing the interference of some environmental factor that caused the mistake or wrongdoing to take place.

The reason behind this is that no one wants to face what are called punishers, or disapproval in other words, and will likely turn to blaming environmental factors for their ill behavior or misdeeds.  In a classic case defense lawyers will often call upon a defendant’s lack of proper upbringing, their abusive past, or other factors that might have contributed in the process of creating a behaviorally stunted individual that commits crimes rather than acting as a member of a law-abiding society. (Baum, 2004)  This route offers no accountability and claims that any and all choice we possess is an illusion, that our behaviors are bound by our environment.

In contrast many people will take the opposite tactic when receiving credit, taking everything upon their own selves and denying that their environment had anything to do with their success.  The success itself is a reinforce, a means by which to push individuals to excel and keep moving forward.  While it is highly beneficial and does work, it is curious that very few people showcase such traits as humility or even the quiet sense of accomplishment that would rather deny the personal accolades and accept that their success had more to do with how they were trained, or how they were raised, or even how their personal environment aided in their accomplishment.  Credit is sought, punishment is avoided, it is human nature, and it is a rather curious mix of behaviors that can be observed in each spectrum.

Like the method of avoiding punishment, taking credit for one’s accomplishments does not necessarily shy away from accountability, but rather takes full account for what has been done.  Doing well in anything produces a rush to the human system, a release of endorphins that are quite enjoyable and even somewhat addicting.  Success is much like anything, once someone attains it they will have a desire to do it again, and again, and again.  The reinforcer for success is the credit gained, the status and notoriety given, and therefore the need to obtain it becomes stronger with each added accomplishment.

Punishment on the other hand is generally avoided as an unspoken rule, as few if any ever really desire to be punished for anything, especially something that is not their fault.  “The devil made me do it” excuse is quite popular, as are many others when seeking to lay the blame for a misdeed upon something or someone else. (Baum, 2014) Human nature demands that we shy away from anything that will harm us, be it physical, emotional, or psychological.  It is a defense mechanism of the human mind that causes such behaviors to occur, and one that is quite common.

To avoid punishment we deny any true responsibility, and shift the blame to another party, or to the environment we come from or live in, to lessen the blow when it comes.  In this manner human beings draw heavily upon extenuating circumstances, or environmental factors, in order to explain away what should by all rights be assumed to be their fault.  When those who do come forward to accept blame do not draw upon the excuse of environmental factors, there is likely another reason why they will bother to deal with the punishment, behaviors that were instilled in childhood or a decided lack of fear for any punishment at all. These cases are rare, as human beings, like any other animal, seek to avoid punishment in all its forms and thereby do anything to “get out of it”.

If human choice is an illusion, then every last human being is a product of their behavior, and are driven more by their more basic desires to acquire what they deem as “good” and avoid what they consider “bad”.  There is a great deal of truth in this as it is seen to be biologically ingrained into our minds that whatever falls into either category is then subjected to a behavioral bias that is very difficult, even impossible in some cases, to eradicate.

Approval is a great reinforcer as it allows an individual to realize and understand that they have done something right, and perhaps even done it better than anyone else.  In this vein the individual will wish to believe that did something great all on their own, without need of any outside source.  Yet when disapproval, the punisher, is introduced as a reaction to an act deemed as wrong or bad people will generally seek to find anyone, anything at all to take the credit, to lessen the blow upon their own person.  Human beings are curious in that while we do have a defined set of morals and ethics, we still tend to resort to our more base natures in times of great success and times of great distress.

 

Reference

Baum, William M. (2004). Understanding Behaviorism: Behavior, Culture, and Evolution.

Wiley-Blackwell.

 

The Value of College

 

The value of a superior education is difficult to see in the short-term, but can become a wise and proven investment in the long-term.  Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney (591), both respected members of a non-profit organization known as the Hamilton Project, have taken the stance that a college education is worth far more than any other investment could possibly be. Despite the facts of tuition, room and board, and various other expenses and the amount of time that is required to accomplish a degree, college is a much more reliable investment for any student to make.  Despite being an uncertain investment that brings little initial gain, college is a wise investment for the long-term that can bring highly satisfactory results.

Many individuals constantly question if the promise of hard work and the uncertainty of college is worth the investment.  The fact is however that college is a guarantee that upon taking the time to learn and succeed, there will be an opportunity to earn a living after graduation based on the degree and direction a student chooses. Without a college degree a student’s earning power falls squarely on their high school education and achievements, which are often not nearly as impressive as a college education might be on a professional resume.  College can offer a greater chance at later success for the four years or more it takes to earn a degree.

The authors go into great detail concerning the average investment of just over $100,000

dollars versus the earning power of the average college graduate.  This is then compared to the

average earning power of a high school graduate. At their highest rate of pay, a high school

graduate will typically earn as much as a college graduate does when only a year removed from

school.  This comparison shows the obvious discrepancy between a high school education and a college education and the obvious benefit of the latter.

The number of loans and the mounting dollar value that college students accrue during their time in school can often seem like a giant expense that will take years to pay off. However, as Plyush Manguklya (2015) writes, even those who select majors that are considered to be less desired will earn a base salary far greater than the majority of high school graduates that never attended college. Manguklya also goes on to state that a college education does not guarantee a higher level of pay, but is able to provide more experience and resources to the average college graduate.  Without this level of education it is difficult if not impossible or a high school graduate with no college experience to be as successful.

There are many questions regarding whether or not the education purchased is the type that will benefit the student later on in life, and each one of them are valid.  According to David Leonhart (2014) statistics gathered and compiled by several experts show that nearly 98 percent of college graduates make more per hour than those who did not pursue a college degree.  This shows quite easily that college, despite the tremendous investment that is required, can be a far more advantageous payoff when those with the necessary ambition take the leap to better themselves through postsecondary education. While it is not a perfect or easy path to follow, it is by far the more preferable course to take in terms of earning power that comes from obtaining a degree.

Greenstone and Looney contend that only do those who attend college lead happier,

healthier lives, they have a better chance at attaining job satisfaction than those who do not

(596). While this is not one hundred percent true the statistics taken do not lie, nor do the results

of those who have gone on to find greater success for the simple act of going to college.

Whether or not they graduate is not a limiting factor as the authors both have gone on to state that even those who have attended for a year or more will have gained enough experience to have increased their earning power (Greenstone and Looney, 596).  This view is highly agreeable as it points out that not only are those who attend college more successful on average, but they are also far more satisfied with life overall as a result.

What Greenstone and Looney are truly stating is that for the amount of investment that is put into a college education, the outcome is worth much, much more.  It is an effort to understand how such a costly investment could possibly allow an individual to make back the money to pay off loans and debts incurred throughout the college career. However, the authors are quite adept at explaining how the earning potential of the average college graduate far outweighs the typical salary earned by a non-graduate.  College is a gateway to success that depends largely on the effort of the individual. A postsecondary education is a chance to increase the earning power of an individual and to gain job satisfaction as well as a favorable lifestyle.

The effect this has on the individual can create a ripple effect that can help to stimulate the economy.  Were more people inclined to attend college and graduate, or even attend for a year to increase their earning potential, the stimulation to the economy would be enormous. Workers would be more skilled and able to take on greater roles within their place of employment. The US economy would improve as more qualified and experienced workers graduated and went on to accept higher level positions that could keep the United States in competition with other countries in several different key areas of trade and commerce.  Through an investment in college an individual gains the ability to reshape their lives and learn what it is to be successful.

Works Cited

Greenstone, Michael & Looney, Adam. “Where Is the Best Place to Invest $102,000- In Stocks,

Bonds, or a College Degree?” Subject and Strategy: A Writer’s Reader (13th Ed.), edited by Eschholz, Paul, & Rosa, Alfred, Bedford-St. Martin’s, 2014, 591-596.

Leonhart, David. “Is College Worth It? ‘Clearly’ New Data Say.” The New York Times,

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/upshot/is-college-worth-it-clearly-new-data-say.html?_r=0

Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

Manguklya, Plyush. “[Infographic] Is College Worth the Cost?”  The Huffington Post,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/piyush-mangukiya/infographicis-college-wor_b_8692234.html Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

Attention Whole Foods Shoppers

Organic farming has been touted as a means to reduce the carbon footprint that humanity continues to press into the ecosystem as the population continues to grow. What is not always taken into account is that organic farming takes far more effort and puts out just as much if not less yield than conventional farming. Consumers and farmers alike are asked to take heed of this very serious fact and take into account the facts that are presented concerning organic farming vs. conventional farming (3)Conventional farming can affect world hunger far more than organic farming. (1)

Robert Paarlberg uses a host of examples to showcase how the Green Revolution was beneficial in combating world hunger in China and India (2) (613). His impassioned words are an attempt to reach people on a more emotional level. The pathos is the attempt to tell people just how the Green Revolution has helped the world in such an immense way. His attempt at logos is to inundate the reader with the accomplishments of the Green Revolution while still detailing how the poorer farmers have lost out (613). He uses ethos by citing how the CDC and their continuing crackdown on safe storage and transportation methods for foods has led to a much lower propensity for contamination and any related illnesses (4,5) (614).

Parrlberg’s tone is one of vague condescension as he attempts to whittle down the

resistance of the masses to conventional farming through several examples of how it is superior

to organic farming. For instance, to produce more organic farmland it would be necessary to up

the production of natural fertilizers produced by animals. In doing this however more and more land would need to be utilized as a food source for these animals. That in turn would mean that deforestation would become a very serious issue, thereby harming the environment even more. In short, organic farming simply takes too much effort to produce a satisfactory yield.

His tone is quite convincing as he cites such sources as the CDC and The American Journal Clinical Nutrition to show that organic food is in no way superior to conventionally-farmed foods (6,9, 10). The idea that they use non-toxic fertilizers and an all natural process might have been fine when the human population had yet to grow so big. As of now organic farming is a luxury that cannot be afforded. Paarlberg organizes his argument in a manner that starts very small with the consumer and their reaction to organic foods, and then widens to encapsulate the global affect that organic farming can have (8). He uses very broad strokes in his argument that are laced with supporting facts and data that help to round out the idea that organic foods are not the answer.

While he does in fact go into great detail about organic foods and their impact on world hunger, he tends to leave out the very premise that his title seems to allude to. There is mention of Whole Foods and how it is meant to reduce the carbon footprint of humanity by utilizing only foods that are grown organically, but after that brief mention it is left out almost entirely (7). The bigger picture seems to swallow the original premise and leave it lying on the opening paragraph like a discarded book cover.

Paarlberg makes a very good argument about organic foods and the fact that they are not the boon that so many believe. Yet he seems to ascend from his primary point rather quickly and adopt a worldview that goes far and wide from his original point. He is quite adept at arguing passionately about the need for conventional farming however.

Works Cited

Paarlberg, Robert. “Attention Whole Foods Shoppers.” Everything’s An Argument. Eds. Andrea

  1. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, & Keith Walters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015, 610-620, Print.

 

Movie and Video Game Violence

 

The nature of human beings is a rather complex subject in that there are a great many differences between one individual to the next. Some claim it is the nature of human beings to be social, to gather together in times of great need and struggle. Others might claim that humans cannot live peacefully together, that there will always be differences that tear the species in different directions. This particular view is one of the leading points of theoretical interest in determining how the media dictates how people assimilate and emulate what they see on television and in various forms of entertainment.  Real world violence is independent of the media and is not caused by it.

The old adage that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, has been hotly debated again and again as several human rights groups and individuals seek to either reduce or ban altogether the sale of firearms to underage individuals.  Atop this debate however, as of late, the heap of blame has been levied at the media in general as well.  There is at this current time however no true causal relationship that can be used to link violent games and movies to violent acts committed by youth. (Beresin, 2012)  It is unfortunate at times, but more causality can be laid at the feet of cultural norms than can be leveled at the media.  Tales such as Homer’s Odyssey and the sacking of Troy can be just as violent if not more so than many media representations, yet they do not inspire the type of attention that the media is given.

If the media has had any effect upon the general public by depicting violent acts it has been quite the opposite. Though there is little if any real causality between the releasing of violent movies and video games, it has been noted that during such times that violence, particularly amongst younger citizens, has declined throughout the past several decades. (Gutierrez, 2014)  The depiction of horrifying images and violent acts that are made to appear

almost too realistic have been shown to have the opposite effect, displaying the true horror and consequence that such violence can bring. While it is still not optimal nor advisable to expose young, impressionable children to such material, it is without much doubt sobering to realize that the reality that is at times depicted in the media is enough to make those who view such programs and play such games think about what can happen in the real world applications of violence.

In light of this it seems that if there is any real danger concerning the viewing of violent movies and the enjoyment of violent video games, it is that those who subject themselves to such media might eventually desensitized to the graphic and extremely violent facets of life. (Strickland, 2015)  While there is no real substitute for real life violence, the act of watching Hollywood’s rendition of violent action and drama coupled with the playing of violent and even antisocial video games can in fact dull the sensations that might otherwise be far more pronounced.  Reality is still far more visceral and inescapable than fantasy, a fact that those who blame violence on games and movies seem to disregard.

Overall the matter of whether or not video games and movies depicting acts of violence encourage or inspire violence is a scapegoat argument that diverts from the true problem.  Violence doesn’t need a great deal of inspiration, as many crimes throughout recent history have been committed without a connection to violent entertainment.  While real world violence may very well mirror violent entertainment in some ways, it is nonetheless not overtly responsible for the violence itself.  Despite the constant exposure to violent video games and movies, millions upon millions of individuals have yet to display any outward signs that the line between fantasy and reality has been blurred.  Violence is its own creation, and stands independent of any media source that might otherwise be blamed.

References

Beresin, Eugene. M.D., M.A. (2012). Violent Video Games and Movies Causing Violent

Behavior. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-out-outside-in/201212/violent-video-games-and-movies-causing-violent-behavior

Gutierrez, John Paul. (2014). No link found between movie, video game violence and societal

violence. EurekAlert! Retrieved from

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-11/ica-nlf102814.php

Strickland, Jonathan. (2015). Does violence in movies and video games desensitize us to the real

thing? HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from

http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/violence-desensitize.htm

 

 

Bali: Cultural and Musical Significance

 

 

Within some countries music is seen as an expression of self, an artistic form of expression that is designed to show the thoughts and feelings of those who perform such enlightening pieces. Bali is little different from these locations, though in addition to the more aesthetic notion of a musical culture, those of the island of Bali also use their musical and dramatic skills to recall their history, legends, and their sense of identity. Having experienced a great deal of turmoil within the history of the island and its people, the Balinese have emerged into the present day as a rich and treasured culture that draws tourists from all over the world, the music and dramatic performances it accompanies only a fraction of what attracts so many.

Believed to have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., Bali is the smallest province of Indonesia and includes itself as well a few small neighboring islands.  Inhabited at first by Austronesian peoples, Bali soon enough became host to nine different Hindu sects, which all revered a different god as their selected deity.  Throughout their history the inhabitants of Bali have been influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Hindu cultures, each one adding a rich note to their already budding culture and to their performing arts.

A dark note in Balinese history occurred when the Dutch arrived in 1602 and would nearly two and half centuries later claim control of the island and its smaller regions, establishing the Dutch East India Company and further subjugating the native peoples.  From there the Dutch began to pit different realms upon the island against one another, playing upon the distrust that already existed between different regions.  This gained the Dutch a much tighter control over the political and economical aspects of the island, which they held onto for a great deal of time.

Matters only escalated when pressures in the southern portion of the island grew intense enough that the warring regions declared open battle against one another, a situation that the Dutch readily exploited to their benefit.  Throughout the struggle some 200 members of the royal family of Bali were massacred when they made the decision to face down the invaders rather than surrender.  The Dutch retained control over Bali following these events, but never enjoyed the type of dominion over Bali’s neighboring islands.

It wasn’t until the 1930’s that Bali was established as a tourist spot for western travelers.  A group of anthropologists, musicians, and artists described Bali as “an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature” (Wikipedia).  While Bali has suffered a great deal throughout its history, as is to still be described, their culture and peoples have continued to record and keep their history alive in song and dance, persevering to keep their indigenous culture the same as it has been since ancient times.

During World War II Bali was invaded and eventually taken over by the Japanese, who in the beginning appeared to be concerned with returning the island to its native inhabitants.  Eventually however they became far worse than the Dutch in regards to how the natives were dealt with, and how the quality of life was to be changed.  Bali was not originally slated for a Japanese takeover, but as their weather patterns were far more compatible with the needs of the Imperial Japanese Army, their island became a prime location for invasion and occupation.  When the war ended however and Japan surrendered, the island of Bali was overtaken once again by the Dutch, but not without a great deal of effort.  Balinese freedom fighters would fight valiantly for their home, but in the end, after suffering a complete loss of their military battalion at the Battle of Marga in central Bali, the native peoples were forced to concede to Dutch rule once again.

As though to add to the uncertain tumult of their lives the island of Bali suffered a very natural tragedy in 1963 when Mount Agung exploded, killing thousands and forcing many more to transmigrate to other parts of Indonesia.  Bali would later suffer other conflicts as well, and even fall prey to Islamic attacks in 2002 and 2005, causing their successful tourism trade to suffer. This island has gone through a great many growing pains during its long and storied history, and no doubt will continue to experience as much throughout the many generations to come, though never has it lost its unique culture and heritage, finding themselves through their many different daily practices and living on through their cultural sense of history expressed in music and dance.

The musical culture of Bali is diverse and does take its cues from different cultures such as those of China, India, and even its neighbor to the west, Java.  Their traditional trance dance, known as sanghyang, is an adaptation to the Ramayana, a traditional tale that pits the forces of good and evil against one another in the epic tale of balance that is derived from an original Javanese piece. The Balinese adaptation, accompanied by the Kecak, a male chorus that sings rhythmic patterns over and over, adding to the tale as it is told, is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and conveys the resounding history and culture of the island and its beginnings, taken from myth and legend as it has grown into a tourist attraction that draws many interested parties from the world over.  The Kecak, also known as the “monkey chant” imitates the sounds of primates found upon Bali as an accompaniment to the sanghyang and offers a bit more insight to the Balinese adaption of the Ramayana.

The Balinese gamelan consists of three movements: Ostinato’s, Nocturne, and Finale.  This style of music is known to be quite vibrant and extremely complex, serving to convey religious beliefs and accompany their traditional dances.  The gamelan will often feature a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, kendang (drums) and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included within these performances, but it is not mandatory. For most Indonesians, gamelan music is an integral part of Indonesian culture.

As Hinduism is the primary religion upon Bali, their concept of dance, art, and music is greatly influenced by their religion, and has been for generations the means by which to convey their culture to the world and to keep their own histories.  There is little to distinguish between one’s life and their religion upon the island of Bali, as the practice is ingrained into their people at a young age.  It has been said that the children of Bali are taught to dance within the womb as they are subjected to Balinese music during their development.  Balinese girls are taught the art of dance as early as age 7, and are expected to carry on the traditions as they grow.  While there have been those that have turned away from tradition and made their lives upon other shores, the culturally sound practice of Balinese dance and music has lived on throughout generations and is seen today as a valued piece of their history, present, and as a means to draw tourists to their shores.

For many generations Bali has been a place of tumult, of opportunity, and of hardship, though through it all the people have kept to their culture, their way of life, and have persevered through it all.  The island has seen occupation, natural disaster, and now the westernization of its indigenous culture as tourists flock to the peaceful island to partake of its particular brand of almost euphoric tranquility and its vibrant, unique culture.

Like many such locations, Bali has already become a tourist trap for those who are seeking a means to “get away” from their normal life and experience a more exotic taste of something different, leaving their mark on an otherwise peaceful and unassuming populace that is already well aware of how much their home has gone through.  Yet through it all Bali is still a haven for its people, who more often than not desire to live there and die there, as it to them the ideal of what heaven is like.  It is an inspiration to many and an oddity to others, though those who call Bali home are without a doubt quite aware, and very proud of, their cultural heritage from their beginnings to the present day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.indo.com/culture/music.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bali

https://online.pcc.edu/d2l/le/content/77045/viewContent/2107342/View

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balinese_dance

http://www.indo.com/bali/interests/index.html

http://www.baliclick.com/about-bali-history-culture.asp

 

Gender Inequality

 

Introduction

Women earn less than men in many different parts of the world.  The pay gap between men and women has been noted for many years now, and in Canada it is no different. It is worse in fact considering that the pay gap is greater between men and women of differing ethnicities, such as immigrants and those are considered to be less educated. The pay gap between men and women must be bridged to reach gender equality.

In the peer-reviewed article, “Heterogeneity in the Gender Wage Gap in Canada,” the authors delve into the issue of the ever-present wage gap that is currently afflicting Canada.  This gap has been in effect for many years and is typically seen as an unfair advantage given to over to male workers that make more on average than women that share the same educational background and work experience. It also highlights the fact that women are often granted jobs that pay less and offer fewer hours. The three sociological perspectives that are commonly attributed to many different aspects of life are seen within this article and also easy to note in the literature provided.

Symbolic Perspective

Symbolic interactionism is the use of symbols and face to face interactions that take place

in society. Using the example of the pay gap between men and women in Canada it is easy to see

how the deficit between the genders can be viewed from more than one sociological perspective.

However, as a symbolic interaction the interactions between men and women could include the

fact that Canadian women earn around $0.82 for every $1 that men earn (Antonie, Plesca, &

Tang, 2016).  This increased deficit is slightly better than the average pay gap in the United

States, but still amounts to a significant gap between men and women when it comes to equal

work.

Worse yet is the fact that the trend is not growing any better as in 2016 the pay gap was still double that of the global average. The symbolism is hard to miss considering that women are responsible for a great deal of spending within Canada’s economy but very little in the way of decision-making. They are being held as the consummate consumers without being given the chance to show that they too can help stimulate the very same economy they pay into (Olfert, 2016). Despite the important role that women hold within the Canadian economy they are still shown little if any real chance to present their ideas and innovations to an economy that is almost entirely male-driven.

Another manner of symbolism is that women are often kept from many different leadership positions where their voice might make a difference. Instead of being allowed to become corporate leaders and influential characters that can bring change to the system, women are encouraged to become part-time employees. They are often offered positions that are important but not influential enough to affect policy.  In this manner they are shown that they are good enough to work, but not quite ready to accept the mantle of leadership.

Conflict Theory

It can also be argued that conflict theory is what drives the current pay gap within

Canada. Conflict theory has to do with the competition for resources, and also how the strong, or

rich, control the weak or poor. In this case women are viewed as the weak and uneducated,

despite the fact that many women have reached the same level as their male counterparts

throughout the years. Despite this glaring fact women are still woefully underrepresented and

greatly underpaid for their efforts, while men can demand higher salaries and expect to advance

at a reasonable if not accelerated level within any place of employment(Macionis, Jansson, &

Benoit, 2012).  On average, men will earn more than women in Canada regardless of their skill level (Adsera & Ferrer, 2016).

In terms of education men and women are seen to engage in the same courses, the same programs, and graduate at roughly the same rates.  However, men still tend to receive more pay for the same jobs than women.  This disparity has continued for many years in spite of the ongoing public outcry that women deserve equal pay for equal work. The vast difference in pay has been reasoned and explained more than once throughout the years since it was first brought to attention of the general public. At this time however no explanation has been forthcoming that can adequately explain the reason behind the wage gap, nor why it persists.

Functionalist Perspective

There are many theories that exist that are used to explain the gap, though few if any have ever managed to devise a way to explain how it can be remedied. At this point the unacceptable practice has been performed from a functionalist perspective. This means that since each member of society is interdependent upon the function of society as a whole, the practice continues as an acceptable compromise for the time being. In other words there is no real solution to the problem, so the country and its people must continue to contribute to the economy in the manner that is deemed as most acceptable.

This also strengthens the position of the other two sociological perspectives as the

conflict theory is easily seen with the continuation of such an issue.  The aforementioned practice

of keeping women from leadership roles is also strengthened by this perspective, as too often it is

seen, or at least described as being what is best to keep society functioning as a whole.  Keeping

women in menial or administrative roles where they can create change with slow and determined

progress is no longer a viable solution, as many women have shown great determination in

making drastic changes within their government. What has worked in the past is not working in

the current era, and many have conceded that it is time for a change. However, the path towards equality is still met with a decidedly stubborn roadblock as men continue to dominate the corporate sector and continue to make policies that do not always favor women.

Conclusion

            The plight of women in the Canadian workforce is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed post haste. Despite any advances in education and policy the average woman in Canada is still seen more as a consumer than an innovator when it comes to business. The mere fact that this has been allowed for so long is enough to convince most people that a patriarchal society is not the ideal model to display when seeking to run a society. While a completely matriarchal society might not be the answer, the issue of equality is a concern that must be addressed if it is to be practiced to the greatest degree.

At the current moment the disparity between the wages earned by men and women cannot be adequately explained. There are few if any real discrepancies between the job experiences and hours worked when it comes to men and women (Evans, 2016). The work that they are hired to do should not require a difference in pay. The only issue that could be said to have been touched upon at this point comes when speaking women that have given birth and female immigrants that are not as educated or experienced as men.

From a sociological perspective it would seem that men are simply favored as the

dominant gender in Canada. This of course influences the conflict theory as well as symbolism,

which leading to functionalism as a necessary evil so to speak. In order to bridge the wage gap

women must be given more of a chance to show that they can influence their country. Only by

granting women true equality will Canada be able to eliminate such a disparity.

References

Adsera, A. & Ferrer, A. (2016). Occupational skills and labour market progression of married

immigrant women in Canada. Labour Economics, 39, 88-98.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927537116000312

Antonie, L., Plesca, M., & Tang, J. (2016).  Heterogeneity in the Gender Wage Gap in Canada.

Department of Economics and Finance. Retrieved from

http://www.uoguelph.ca/economics/repec/workingpapers/2016/2016-03.pdf

Evans, P. (2016). Women’s wage gap getting wider in Canada, new report indicates. CBC News.

Retrieved from

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/wage-gap-oxfam-1.3478938

Macionis, J.J., Jansson, S.M., & Benoit, C.M. (2012). Society: The Basics, Fifth Canadian

Edition. New York: Pearson.

Olfert, M.R. (2016). Regional Inequality and Decentralized Governance:  Canada’s Provinces.

The Review of Regional Studies, 46(3), 201-222.

http://search.proquest.com/openview/99ca4f098fedcb26798d5dab80cd8d4f/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2028849

 

The “Arab Spring” and Terrorism

 

In 2011 a protest movement was begun in the Middle East in an attempt to overthrow the authoritarian regime that had outlived its usefulness. While this is an oversimplification it strikes to the heart of the matter as to why several countries became rather vocal about their desires for change.  Unfortunately for this movement there was no solid agreement between parties that could help to decide how the current regime should be replaced. Without an established regime of its own, the Arab Spring was doomed to failure.

Countries such as Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and even Yemen were drawn into this conflict as they agreed upon the fact that change was needed. Beyond that however there was little if any agreement upon anything.  Syria and Libya found themselves drawn into an unfortunate civil conflict while Jordan and Morocco voiced their desire to transition to a constitutional monarchy (Manfreda, 2011). This would have allowed the countries to still fall under the rule of a monarch, but at the same time impose limitations upon how much power their leader possessed.  After living for so long under corrupt and sometimes unstable rulers it was only natural to want to limit the power of their leaders.

Among the nations that were involved with the Arab Spring, Syria has been hit the hardest of any. The civil war that was the result of escalation between those who served the government and those who opposed its president, Bashar al-Assad, came not long after the pro-democracy protest had begun. When government troops arrested and tortured several teenagers who were caught spray-painting revolutionary tags on the wall of a school. Had that been the only act committed the following civil war might not have been so quick to begin.

Unfortunately the troops opened fire into the crowd that had gathered to watch the arrest

of the teenagers, and as a result hundreds of thousands of angry citizens were seen taking to the

streets.  The general demand was the formal resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. After nearly four and a half years of a horrible civil war that tore the country apart (Middle East, 2016), Syrian refugees began to flee their home country for fear that they would be killed by accident or association.  The death toll as of 2015 had reached roughly a quarter million that included innocent civilians caught in the crossfire as well as soldiers and rebels.

Politically, Syria has been torn apart by the fighting, as the rebels and the government they fight entered into a bloody conflict that has claimed millions upon millions of lives to date. The fighting has become so bad that refugees have flooded several other countries in an attempt to flee the horror. Neither side is innocent as torture has been used by both, and massacres have been instigated in the streets.  Fear rules the battleground that Syria has become, and the citizens that have not fled live in constant terror that they might perish any day.

What is truly unfortunate is that the civil unrest has given way to the rise of terrorism within the country, as well as several others. Within Syria the al-Qaeda branch al-Nusra Front (Attkisson, 2015) formed shortly after the war began in 2011, striking out to claim their own territory.  Their blatant use of the civil war in Syria to stake their claim has created mass confusion and had the effect of adding another iron to the raging inferno that the Middle East has become. With a president that refuses to resign or even bend, a rebel force that openly and continually opposes the established government, and a group of Islamic radicals now vying for territory, there is no doubt that Syria has become a war zone where law is just barely recognized, if at all.

Considering that there is no central theme to rally around, it is no wonder that each

faction continually fights to be heard.  The legitimate if morally corrupt government of Syria

does not wish to change. President al-Assad will not likely step aside unless he can no longer

continue the fight, and the rebels will no longer accept his rule, so there exists an impasse that

requires a strong, controlling presence to step in and take charge. Unfortunately al-Qaeda does not have a proven track record of settling disputes with anything less than violent fanaticism.

It is difficult to know who to feel is the true instigator in this extremely violent and ugly war, though many times it appears the only innocents are those who seek to flee the country.  Refugees from Syria that flood into neighboring countries are those who have for reasons of survival abandoned their war-torn homeland for greener pastures.  To date Syria has not been completely settled, and the threat of terrorism is as it has always been, persistent and always poised to rear its ugly head once more.  Even with Russia giving aid to the legitimately recognized government (Cockburn, 2015), Syria remains a country divided by an impasse that refuses to be settled.

The unfortunate truth is that no one can decide upon terms that can be met by the rebels attempting to unseat President al-Assad and the government itself.  There is no centralized agreement or ruling body that can bring the entire mess to a halt. Added to this already volatile situation, terrorism in the form of ISIS and al Qaeda have taken advantage of the fear and mistrust that already exist, doing their best to continue the bloodshed to further their own agenda.

The Arab Spring unwittingly opened a door for terrorism to come racing through.  The civil war that rages in Syria is one born ignorance and a desperate plea to end the corruption of an outdated regime. The lack of any proper, centralized leadership has forced the government to take actions that have proven quite violent and unexpectedly fatal.  The fallout from the civil war that resulted from Syria’s desperate plea for change has given way to a new type of outcry, one that does not desire change so much as fear.  Given time and a lack of definitive leadership, there might not be much left of Syria to change.

References

Attkisson, S. (2015). How Arab Spring Opened the Door to Terrorism’s Ugly March. The Daily

Signal. Retrieved from

http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/12/arab-spring-opened-door-terrorisms-ugly-march/

Cockburn, P. (2015). Syrian civil war: No end in sight for terrorism or the refugees fleeing to

safety. Independent. Retrieved from

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/syrian-civil-war-no-end-in-sight-for-terrorism-or-the-refugees-fleeing-to-safety-a6786796.html

Manfreda, P. (2011). Definition of the Arab Spring. About.com. Retrieved from

http://middleeast.about.com/od/humanrightsdemocracy/a/Definition-Of-The-Arab-Spring.htm

Middle East (2016). Syria: The story of the conflict. BBC News. Retrieved from

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868