Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the town where they were born

     The first largely colonial section of the now United States in the 1600s, Massachusetts, is the setting of many historically interesting events regarding Puritans and it is also home to the Romantic novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote about Puritan society. Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and of The House of Seven Gables among others, was born in infamous Salem, Massachusetts where deadly witch trials took place approximately a century earlier. Remarkably, Nathaniel's ancestor was a judge in the witch trials whose surname was Hathorne but Hawthorne was compelled to disassociate himself with his great-great-grandfather and therefore, he added a "w" to his name. Later in life, Nathaniel wrote his most famous work, The Scarlet Letter, detailing Puritan methods of life and of punishment through his character Hester Pyrnne, an adulteress.
     The town of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter is a devout Puritan theocratic society, run by the word of God. The citizens of Puritan towns were governed by extremely strict laws. They regarded any form of enjoyment as a sin. Rule breaking such as not attending mass for one Sunday led to punishment and raised questions about "sinner's" moral and religious conviction. Small acts like this could, in fact, result in accusations of witchcraft since the community had a strong belief in demonology. Those condemned would be put to death like the adulterers and murderers were. In this religious society, the roles of the family members were rigidly outlined; men were expected to provide for the family and held sole authority, women worked around the house and bore children, and the children should abstain from any form of enjoyment and comply with all adult expectations.
     The effects on current American society that the Puritan society caused are very minimal in everyday life. However, we are held to the same moral standards of a Christian belief system that the Puritans were. Disobeying these laws will almost result in jail-time which is a beneficial aspect to our nation. Fortunately, the nation is becoming increasingly secular and tolerant towards other lifestyles.      

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two extremes of a vast nation

     For the entirety of my life, my parents have subjected me to the true beauties of the United States: Our National Parks. As I increased in age, I began to realize through exceeding exposure to these parks that the United States was a land of great untamed wilderness and of many spectacular cities; the best aspects of this country go from one extreme to the other: simplicity and sophistication. I can only bask in the glory of America in these two landscapes and they are where I notice pride in my country.
     Cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and New York are worldly Meccas with arrays of ethnicities that culminate into a city of many worlds. People from all backgrounds find communities they can identify with, yet still experience other lifestyles if they desire to. One method to do so would be to venture to ethnic restaurants. Metros are usually littered with such areas and after visiting a plethora of cuisines, my appreciation for America's diversity and a sense of nationalism grow within.
     From the first journey to Hawai'i when I was a few months old to my most recent excursion to Zion National Park in Utah, I always contained a feeling of tranquility and easiness while present in a National Park. Being immersed in natural grandeur seems correct and I can't help feeling anew and at peace. Then I wonder why more of the nation's land cannot be allotted to the National Park Service to be preserved and protected from urban encroachment. Pictures do not provide justice for the natural magnificence. Their greatness defies all expectations and instills greater respect for the environment which Americans usually toss aside. My ideal America would be a nation of wilderness where its people are connected with nature and a nation of cities where all peoples could assimilate into a cohesive and tolerant society that enjoys experiencing other walks of life. I would have the highest level of patriotism in such as country.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pacificism, not terrorism!

     In recent years, large conflicts have arisen from religious tensions, specifically terrorist attacks throughout the world. September 11th, the London underground bombing, the 2010 Moscow Metro bombing and 2004 Madrid train bombings were all terrible attacks resulting in a needless loss of life. However, in the United States there was a terrorist attack in 1995 which was fueled purely by politics and took the lives of 168 people aged three months to seventy-three not including the unborn children of pregnant women in Oklahoma City.
     On April 19, 1995, at approximately nine in the morning, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols exploded a large bomb in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. These former U.S. army soldiers were driven by their conflict with the government, particularly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They felt that the federal government acts without valid grounds or is a corrupt body. Although McVeigh wanted to make a statement for his cause, his radicalism turned all peace-loving people entirely against him. However, Timothy's goal may have been to instill fear in Americans for his militia group which it most likely did.
      Numerous groups rise out of a disappointment towards their government but usually, instead of destroying lives, they protest, elect officials that have like ideas or lobby senators or representatives. Any idea that involves harming innocent bystanders is the worst possible way to go. They should enact nonviolent movements such as those in the Civil Rights Movement and in the campaign for Indian Independence, lead by the most notable pacifist in modern history.  These made impacts. They actually caused change without casualties. Violence is almost never the proper course of action.