Saturday, September 26, 2015

When Religion and Politics Mix: Pope Francis

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Airis in 1936. He was ordained the 266th Pope on March, 13, 2013. While revolutionizing the image of the Pope, he is visiting the Unites States from September 22 to the 26th. He's stopping in Washington D.C, and New York, before arriving at the World Meeting of Families held in the Philadelphia this year. Thousands are flocking to see the symbol of hope and peace and he is certainly a man of the people. In D.C, he's speaking with the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the President on a variety of issues from global climate to immigration.

Nether labeled as a conservative or a liberal, Pope Francis has been a perfect politician when it comes to Christianities social issues. He is purposely vague on same-sex marriage, gender and marriage/divorce. His ambiguity on these subjects are enough to keep the conservatives around yet boost his popularity world wide. On an interview on a flight back from Brazil he stated:
"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?... The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem…they’re our brothers." The pope is implying that he does not have a problem with Homosexual tendencies as long as they accept the Lord. To accept the lord's teachings one must only have sex with the opposite gender therefore rejecting homosexual tendency. So he does not accept gay people; he accepts those who might have 'impure thoughts' but does not act upon them. 
However, we still have to realize he holds orthodox views and might not bring the social changes some are rallying for. Be realistic with your expectations; he is speaking with love and compassion but at the same time playing his cards right. He is an influential man in this world with enough power to institution change. However, don't assume radical changes for women, divorced couples, or homosexuals are coming to the Catholic church anytime soon. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

What Are We Fighting For?

As a junior at New Trier, the pressure to succeed engulfs students drowning them until they loose sight of the purpose of the fight. Overstretched and under-slept, the majority of New Trier students experience constant anxiety about their future. Am I involved enough? Is my GPA high enough? Should I take
classes or get a private tutor for the ACT? What's the end goal of everything? A lot of New Trier students picture an elite-flashy name dream school that will justify all the blood, sweat, and tears. But is that how you really want to define your success in life? On the college you spend only four years of your life at? Whether the pressure to attend top-tier colleges is internal, from society, or from parents, New Trier students need to remind themselves what they're really working towards. Because your life will not suddenly become whole if you are accepted into the elite-Ivies. On the other hand, your life won't break in two if you're rejected from your top three schools. Don't orient your life goals around a specific college because college is only the beginning of the adventure.

It is a privilege to receive the premium education that New Trier offers; we're being molded into the brightest minds in the nation. College is not the final destination; you have your entire lives ahead of you. However, right now, we are learning how to survive in a cut throat, competitive environment. By experiencing New Trier Education we already have a leg up on most of the nation. So stop stressing about getting into the flashy school because that is not the end goal of education. Set your sets higher. Work hard and become an intelligent human because you want to better yourself and society.

Monday, September 14, 2015

When Traditional Justice Fails

I have a firm belief in Karma- what goes around comes around. If you hold open the door for a sweet old lady, you might find twenty bucks on the ground. If you kill a bird with your car, the next day your favorite sweater will rip. The universe has a funny way of always balancing out good and evil. We see this circle of justice in Louise Erdrich's novel The Round House. In the coming of age novel about a young boy named Joe, we learn about the complicated lives of Native American's living on a reservation in 1988. In the book, Joe's mother is attacked, raped, and almost burned alive by a white racist man named Linden Lark. The laws, that are supposed to protect innocent civilians and uphold the common good, failed Geraldine (Joe's mom). Because the judicial system did not prosecute Linden, Joe took matters into his own hands and attempted to eliminate him. Unable to finish the job, his best friend Cappy had to send the fatal shot.

Linden Lark was the worst type of person: racist, rapist, murder. He kidnapped and killed a new mother, Mayla Wolfskin, because he claimed to love her and was raging that she had a baby with another man. He made no positive contributions to society and is a destructive sociopath. So does it make it just for Joe to kill Linden? A categorical thinker would argue that it was absolutely immoral and unjust for Linden to be murdered. They locate morality in the action itself: murder is wrong under all circumstances. Contrasting, a consequence thinker would argue Joe's actions brought justice because Linden's death produced peace for his family and the community.

A consequence theorist would insist one must be proactive and can defy one's morals to protect the one's we love. You could say that by avenging all the lives Linden destroyed, Joe brought back balance and order; that we should rejoice that Linden was eliminated form our gene pool. However, I associate myself as a categorical thinker: act upon your morally instincts no matter the circumstances.

After Lark's death, Joe learns he reacted to quickly too the situation, "(Bugger) had seen her dead body. If we hadn't killed Lark, he'd have gone to jail for life anyway" (310). Lark would not of been charged for rape of Gerdaline, however he would've been jailed for first degree murder of Mayla. Instead of patiently waiting for the inevitable outcome, Joe is haunted by his actions and the involvement of his deceased friend for the rest of his life. When the universe's judicial balance has been disturbed, it has an odd way of re-balancing balancing the scales. So make sure you always have Karma on your side.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Danish Girl

The trailer for the Tom Hooper's new up-coming movie, The Danish Girl, was released four days ago (trailer below). First premiering September 5th in 2015 Venice Film Festival, The Danish Girl depicts the incredible true story of transgender Lili Elbe played by Academy award winning actor, Eddie Redmayne.  Lili was born as male Einar Wegner, a painter and husband to struggling portrait artist Gerda Wegner (Alicia Vikander). Taking place in 1920's Copenhagen, the film follow's Lili's journey to finding her true self and eventually becoming the first transgender individual to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Redmayne has a tender, graceful touch that always bring justice to his complex characters. His feminine features make his transformation not only fascinating yet incredibly believable. 
However, there has been much controversy over a cis actor playing a transgender role. Tom Cooper commented, “I was a great believer in him (Redmayne) as an actor. I think also there’s a certain gender fluidity that I sensed in him, that I found intriguing and it led me to think he might be a really interesting person to cast in this role.” According to Cooper, Redmayne was the only person he wanted for the role. Furthermore, for an already transitioned trans women to play the role, they would have to come off their hormones because Lili is still a male for a large portion of the film. This could cause many issues mentally and physically for the actor. Cooper also notes that they cast 40-50 trans people for supporting roles.

Two months ago, the United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Last April, Caitlyn Jenner emerged on the cover of Vanity Fair encouraging and advocating for transgender individuals across the nation. LGBT communities have finally been making much deserved strides after decades of fighting for their rights. In practicality, The Danish girl is just a movie. However, it has a connotation of being part of much greater movement that is overhauling our world today. The Danish Girl, comes out in theaters on November 27th. 

A Link for more information on the true story of Lili Elbe: