Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Pursuit of Self

It's everywhere you turn: in movies, books, and music - everyone is on an adventurous journey to find...



But it's the truth. It is like every formulaic romantic comedy where at the end the girl says, "I set out to find love and happiness, but I ended up finding something even better: myself." Then she glibly walks into the sunset as if all her problems are now solved.

First of all, I think it is weird you don't know who you are. You have lived with yourself for some 20+ years and you STILL don't know YOU yet!? It's not that difficult -you are with yourself all the time. It is kind of unavoidable.

Also, this constant purusit of self has made us all become self-centered - now it is all about me, because apparently I am a lost, confused person, and I have to do everything in my power to figure out who I am so I can have some semblance of a normal, happy life.

On a more serious note, we spend so much effort into trying to understand ourselves, when we should really be trying to understand our Creator. God called us into relationship with Him, not with ourselves.

It is so much more rewarding to develop an intimate relationship with Christ, you constantly learn new things and are always amazed at His unconditional love, comfort, and grace.

To me, being in pursuit of the God who created me by hand and has an exciting plan for my life is better than any other journey I could partake in. In fact, it is the adventure of a lifetime and one that God has invited each and every one of us to experience.

And that's my two cents.


It's election season at UVA, and we have all been inundated with flyers to vote this person to Student Council or this person to Honor Committee, and I think Clemons Library has become less of a place to study and more of a place for people to campaign.

But it is exciting to see people involved in the political process, and it has got me thinking about how special the right to vote is, and we should never take it for granted.

Our right to vote has really gone underappreciated in America to the point that we do not even care to go out and vote - even when the elections are easy and convenient.

With the UVA elections, you can vote anytime online between this past Monday and Sunday night - it only takes a few minutes, and the opportunity to give your opinion is right at your fingertips.

So why do the candidates still have to beg and plead us to vote? I have gotten innumerable emails from listerserves asking again and again for us to vote, and it seems that we view voting as a chore instead of a hard earned right.

I think about all the people who fought wars in the name of suffrage and the women in America who risked everything just to be able to go to the polls, and I wonder if they are saddened by our lack of enthusiasm for something they dedicated their lives to, especially when part of the reason they worked so hard for suffrage was to provide it to future generations - aka US.

So go out and VOTE!

And that's my two cents.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stop and Smell the Roses

In my Shakespeare class, we talk a lot about heroism and what defines a hero and what makes up his heroic quest, and you wouldn't think it at first, but one of the characteristics of a hero is his connection to nature.

Homer believed that the closer you were to nature, the more you felt at home and true to your natural self. He also said that civilization and culture can alienate you from nature.

Now I am definitely not a hippie, let's go with the flow, sing kumbaya and become one with the earth kind of person, but it got me thinking about God's purpose behind creating nature.

Nature shows the beauty of God and the expanse of His imagination - it shows all the different sides of God - His gracefulness, but also His power and might.

I think in my daily life I take nature for granted. Virginia is such a beautiful state - we have all four seasons, beautiful foliage, valleys, and mountains- especially surrounding Charlottesville.

So if God took so much care into making our earth beautiful, why don't I take more time to be thankful for the gorgeous home He has made for me? I mean, what can be better to the end of a stressful day than seeing the sun sink below the mountains casting off pink and orange hues?

So I definitely think we all need to stop and smell the roses a little more.

And that's my two cents.

Mr. Jefferson

This semester I am taking American Political Tradition, and it is defnitely my favorite class. We get to read original documents and study topics such as the framing of the Constitution, religious freedom, constitutional interpretation, and Supreme Court cases. I actually want to do my reading in the class and get excited about going to class in the morning! It is also a unique class, because we meet in one of the pavilions on the lawn, and I have to say, it is so cool to be at Mr. Jefferson's University, reading his documents, and meeting in one of the rooms he originally built and where the first students met at UVA.

Another great aspect of this class is we get guest speakers from other colleges come in and speak on the topics we are studying. While we were studying the founders and religious freedom, a guest speaker came to talk about the founders' intent and how in reality, it is difficult to understand their intent, especially since they all had different opinions - specifically Jefferson, Madison, and Washington's views on religious freedoms.

I realized that I actually do not know much about Jefferson and his beliefs, and when the guest speaker told us, I was really surprised to find out that unfortunately, Jefferson did not always practice what he preached. It is common knowledge that he was a big advocate for separation of church and state, but it seems that he advocated freedom FROM religion instead of freedom OF religion.

While in his Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom he said that an individual should not be discriminated for his religious beliefs, he discriminated against religion himself by wanting to exclude the clergy from being able to be elected to the legislature.

Jefferson also decided to one day read through the Bible and cut out sections of Scripture he didn't agree with - calling it the Jefferson Bible. But religion is not about taking the bits and pieces you are comfortable with and the ones that fit easily into your life - it is about completely believing in it, even when it forces you to step outside of your comfort zone or when it challenges your previous opinions.

This side of Jefferson is definitely not the one we always envision when we think of our Founding Father who eloquently penned the Declaration of Independence and founded the first secular university, our dear old UVA.

But I think it teaches us an important lesson: too often we over glorify leaders from the past, making them out to be wiser and of better character than our leaders today. The truth is, men were just as fallible as they are today - and I believe we need to remember this when we study them.

And that's my two cents.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Term Limits

When Senator Ted Kennedy passed away, it was the first time in 46 years that his Massachusetts seat was open for a new candidate to fill.

This made me think about a common debate that has lasted from the founding of our nation to today: term limits.

I believe that our Senators and House of Representatives should have term limits for multiple reasons.

1. A constant new influx of Senators and Reprsentatives would get rid of the "insider Washington" politics game that even candidates themselves complain about when they are running for office.

2. The longer a politician is in office, the more money and status they can garner over time to continually win re-elections against newer and greener opponents running against him back home, otherwise known as the incumbency problem. Term limits would resolve this problem and assure that the vote is truly representative of the constituents' choice and not which candidate had the most money and name recognition to win the election.

3. Continually having new candidates requires voters to pay more attention to the political process. Voters easily fall into the trap of voting for the same man they always have and fail to check up on his actions while in office. Therefore, term limits will help politicize the public more and keep them more involved in their own government.

While there are more important matters at hand for our government to take care of right now, I hope this topic comes to the debate floor again on the Hill.

And that's my two cents.