How did the content from this half of the semester deepen your sense of your humanity/who you are as a person?
In the “Dream of a Ridiculous Man” / Short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky, he writes about an unknown man who wants to commit suicide. One day, the man falls asleep into a deep dream, and finds himself in a place where utopia occurred. The man somehow corrupts them all and utopia was no longer what it once was. The people in the dream discovered the charm of falsehood, they grew fond of lying, and came to know shame. When the man woke up from his dream, he did not want to commit suicide anymore. He wanted to share his story and teach others to love each other.
This short story deepened my sense of humanity by showing gratitude. At one point or another, almost everyone finds themselves feeling the way that man felt. For example, “Perhaps it was owing to the terrible misery that was growing in my soul through something which was of more consequence than anything else about me: that something was the convention that had come up on me that nothing in the world mattered.” Though the man felt miserable in the beginning of the story, his dream gave him meaning and a sense of purpose to his life. He said that “The chief thing is I love others like yourself, that’s the chief thing, and that’s everything; nothing else is wanted — you will find out at once how to arrange it all.” Life is better when you show gratitude as demonstrated by Dostoevsky’s story.
In the “8 Life Lessons from Fyodor Dostoevsky” / YouTube video, Dostoevsky’s eight life lessons were being discussed by a YouTube account named Fiction Beast. His life lessons teach people a ray of valuable lessons that can make their lives better.
Dostoevsky’s eight life lessons have deepened my sense of humanity, because he expresses that it is important to maintain a balanced life as a general theme throughout his lessons. For example, his life lesson number five says that “it’s ok to be a fool” and that “too much self-examination can lead to a man’s insanity.” I think this particular lesson has a lot of value because humans are always trying to figure out “why” something is the way it is. This programmed thinking can cause a lot of stress and depression, because we won’t have all the answers. Moreover, his life lesson number seven is about taking individual responsibility. He states that, ”It’s through responsibility that we find meaning in life.” Taking responsibility for our actions is a huge part of self-respect. Instead of thinking others are the reason for a particular turn of events, it’s best to take responsibility for our own actions. To me this means a lot, because I see myself and everyone else around me struggling to deal with our own actions. I think if we were to do that there would be more peace in the world.
In “Poet Ocean Vuong sifts through the aftershock of grief” / NPR Fresh Air conversation; Vuong speaks about his mother’s passing in a heartfelt manner and talks about the inspiration it gave to his new poems.
This NPR deepened my sense of humanity by showing me how much better we should be treating each other as humans. Vuong describes a scenario where white people were applauding him for his poems, and his mother “saw it as a victory because she never knew what it was like to be applauded.” She worked as a nail salon worker, and likely had a large older aged white women clientele, that she always had to physically look up to do her work. Vuong claimed that her work was art too and she deserved to know that, but it wasn’t valued like how his poems are. I think a lot of us are undervalued in today’s world and that can lead to a lifelong feeling of not being enough for society standards.
What about the content this half of the semester did you find interesting? Challenging? Boring? Enlightening? Enraging? Strange? Encouraging? Inspiring? Fascinating? [Insert your own descriptor if none of these speak to you.] Why?
In “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies” / Poem by Joy Harjo, Harjo writes a profound poem about enemies. She writes,
“And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.”
I find this poem to be both calming and energizing. This is because I can visualize the connection between the sun and the heart. Harjo vividly paints a picture of the sun and the heart’s resemblance, and it helps bring life to the poem and its meaning. What I find enlightening about this poem is how it turns the tables on the enemy. For example, “An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.” This alludes to the idea that getting to know a person may change your perspective on who they are.
In the “WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia extended until May 19, Russian state news reports” by Dave Sheinin, reports about a United States professional basketball star that has been charged in Russia and is being detained there under vape/hash oil charges.
This report on Griner’s detention is frightening to read about. She is in a country that is currently under a “time of increased tensions between the two nations over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” Griner is not in a safe location considering recent history, and that on top of “U.S. Embassy officials have not been granted access to Griner.” It is not right for her to be detained with no access to communicate with United States officials, especially when Russia is legally abided to give her access. It seems like a frightening situation because she is stuck in a Russian jail (during a terrible time) and can possibly face up to 10 years in prison.
In the “Work, Sometimes” / Poem by Mary Oliver, she writes a short poem about feeling trapped in work and how taking a moment to be in nature can help you feel happier.
Oliver’s poem is a poem that I can relate to in so many ways. One way this poem resonates with me is that I am a college student and I feel the fast-paced movement of school and life. There is an overwhelming presence in the world that makes me feel like I cannot catch a break. The poem really highlights the undeniable need for a moment to breathe. It portrays the idea that it’s okay to take a break and take in the world around you.
What new questions did content from this half of the semester create for you? What insights did you gain from this half of the semester?
In the podcast “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside…” / On Being podcast conversation/ with Naomi Shihab Nye, she discusses her life and her poems.
From this podcast I wondered how is it possible that I am living in a poem? I also questioned why someone would say that? Nye says, “No; when you think, when you’re in a very quiet place, when you’re remembering, when you’re savoring an image, when you’re allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another — that’s a poem. That’s what a poem does.” Personally, I do not see Nyes’ examples as us “living in a poem,” but it has shown me that some people have a unique thinking process that allows them to interpret life differently.
What connections were you able to make between pieces of content from the content sheet? What connections were you able to make between pieces of content and your prior knowledge, personal experiences, other classes and subject areas, things you’ve read, watched, or listened to on your own, etc.?
In “ Joy Harjo in conversation with Oprah” Harjo discusses her interesting life, her career as a famous poet, and her newest book.
I can see the connection surrounding ancestral life. Harjo talks about an ancestral field that’s like a story matrix, that we are all connected. Nobody dies, you see gifts pass through the children. I believe this to be true because we are all connected through energy. She also says that as an infant is born an “ancestor comes along with them into this world.” I have occasionally talked to other people who also believe that young children have a closer connection to people who have passed away. They say that it’s easier for them to see them because of their new beginning in life.
In the poem “Rabbit is Up to Tricks” / Poem by Joy Harjo, there is a rabbit that likes to play tricks, but his tricks backfired. A rabbit was lonely, so it made a clay man, and the rabbit made the clay man to feel important and powerful. The clay man became too powerful and infected the earth. The rabbit realized that its tricks destroyed the earth and there was nothing left for it, because of the clay man it built. The rabbit tried to stop the clay man, but it was too late, because the rabbit made them without ears.
This speaks to me because throughout human history we have fallen short and have suffered many consequences, as far back to the story of Adam and Eve. They did not listen, and it caused them to be removed from the Garden of Eden. Another example is even with a parent and child. The parent tries to warn the child of doing something that may hurt them, but sometimes the child “does not listen.” This often leads to harmful consequences. That has been one of humanity’s biggest downfalls, “living without ears.’’
In the poem “Washing the World” / Poem by Anna Marie Sewell, she writes this poem as a cry for justice to be brought to Indigenous women who were murdered or have gone missing. In her poem it says,
“one day, the lawmakers must
exit their echoing halls, fall in
with the grandmothers dancing
carry it cry it clean
until they’re home, until they are all home”
It is a harsh reality for Indigenous women. Their people are not given the media attention that white people are. There have been several cases that show how little effort is put into finding and bringing justice for these “Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.” The phenomenon of “Missing White Woman Syndrome” gives a prime example of why Sewell’s poem is so important.