18 April 2014

"What the Hell is Religion?"

A Reflection of my Religion 101 Class, with a rather pretentious but honest-as-possible ending.
As soon as I started registration for college, I asked the counselor if there was a Religions of the World class. I was eager to take it because I plan on serving an LDS mission in the fall. I wanted to know as much as I possibly could about what other people were thinking before I went out and told them my way was better. The two most memorable phrases Dr. Anderson has ever said to me came on the first day of class. First, “What the hell is Religion?” I thought it was witty and ironic, and I liked to think I understood witty humor and was cool enough to nod in comprehensive laughter. 
Religion is a system comprised of people with similar belief, with rituals to enact those beliefs. Religion is a community, a therapist, and an inspiration. Religion is controlling, violent, and destructive. These are all things Religion can be, and have been. Learning about all these denominations and connecting them to real people has been impactful for me. Seeing the sacred value of family in Shintoism is so beautiful, something that wouldn’t be as significant without the religion. Then, seeing the violent, even murderous rites of passage and rituals in other religions shocked me and broke my heart. But that’s something about humans I learned. We have incredible, extreme capabilities when motivated by fear, love, or family. 
A lot of religion is about perspective. In learning about all these religions, I see that our actions are totally dependent on our situation and even beliefs about consequences. That brings me to Professor Anderson’s next little quotation. “If you no one, you know none.” This one really smacked me in the face and reiterated why I was there all throughout the course. If you’re happy 100% of the time, and never sad, you aren’t really happy, you just are. The opposition is necessary. Opposition is also necessary in knowledge. To know what a prime number is, you also need to know what it isn’t. This especially became significant when we discussed Religion’s role in the world. 
If I put on the close-minded, Mormon girl bubble glasses, I’m not going to think very highly of other people, and especially other Religions. This class has influenced my view of Religion by enhancing my perspective of people. People like certainty, and I think that is one thing Religion does really well for some people. Death is the one thing that happens to everybody that nobody knows everything about. When searching for a Religion (if they have the opportunity to do so) they may go with the one that gives them the best feeling and most satisfying answers. 

Most people are also essentially obligated toward family in some way. In families all around the world, Religion is absolutely foundational.  Religion can guide many significant stages of life, such as birth, puberty, marriage, death, and many in-betweens.
      More than anything, my Religions of the World class has confirmed and clarified by desire to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am very young, not very smart, inexperienced and probably still rather naive. However, now I know I believe what I do because I personally want to and feel very happy about it. I can honestly say I have a respect for all other people and their way of life, because my way of life isn’t the only one. I would love to share the Church’s message with anyone with a desire and willingness. Religion, as illustrated by history, has enormous capabilities; which means people have them. I’m happy and grateful to be able to choose what I am a part of. I hope, someday, everyone feels like that have been able to do that, too.

07 April 2014

Magic Words

Hello! Today, I’m going to invite you to say the magic words! Now what are the magic words? Different magicians may disagree. I can tell you what they are not: “You’re ugly! You have too much acne, You’re not smart enough, you can’t do that, You eat too much, I don’t like you, and that means nobody likes you.” Now of course I didn’t mean any of those words, but they were hurtful ones weren’t they? And they would probably hurt just as much if you read them in a Facebook message. 
Today I’m here to let you know that Cyber Bullying is a real issue, how we fix it, and the small and easy thing you can do to help just by staying right there in your seat.
1. Bullying has to do with opportunity. Where there is a means of communication there is possibility for attack. Multiple studies have been conducted recently to verify the reality of cyber bullying, and how its affecting people, especially between the ages of 13 and 17. This statement from a study done by Xiao and Wong identifies and confirms the problem:
“The Internet (which confers anonymity in communication) has provided an ideal platform…to perpetrate such relational/verbal aggression as spreading rumors, excluding someone from their social network, and sending harassing messages.” (Xiao, and Wong 34-69)
They’re right, just like it’s easier to ask that cute girl out by sending her a text message, it’s easier for adolescents to become bullies behind the safety of their screen. In Xiao’s study, we learn that there are direct links with cyber bullying to poor academic performance, impaired family relationships, and even suicide. Now we’ve heard this before, but try putting a face to the reality. My sister is 14 years old. She’s beautiful, a great cook and a wonderful dancer. If she felt like she needed to end her life because of constant jokes make about her online, I would be absolutely devastated. Let’s watch this video to  understand a little more.
2. Cyber bullying is not an inevitable practice. It can be stopped, and it needs to be stopped. The first solution is to go where kids are almost as affected as they are online— school. 
This is from a study connecting cyber behavior to school behavior by Melissa Ockerman: “The American School Counselor Association's (ASCA) position statement regarding this topic states professional school counselors can spearhead training programs that include recognition of early warning signs of violence, prevention/intervention services, crisis response, appropriate use of technology and social media, community involvement, and parent/guardian and faculty/staff educationally.” (Ockerman)
Of course this sounds like the assemblies you dreaded as a kid, but this really works. An alteration in behavior begins with information. If students are consistently aware of a serious problem, they will try and help prevent it. And if resources like therapeutic counselors are available, these kids can get the help they need instead of taking drastic measures. 
3. So hooray for schools, we can support that from afar, and if and when we have children, we can get in that PTA and make sure the appropriate resources are in place. However, what about today? Here’s what you can do today to stop cyber bullying. Think about what you’re posting, retweeting, liking and sharing. If the vibe you are sending is offensive, destructive, or hurtful, stop. Find something kind to say, because the world could always use a little sunshine. 
The other important thing you can do is open your laptop right now, and type in this web address. www.DeleteCyberBullying.org is a website working really hard to eliminate the problem and obviously, they need our help. On the left hand sign you can click to sign a petition and promise never to cyber bully. It might seem like a nuisance, but your promising word is worth something, and so are your words. 
Monitoring our own behavior online is essential, and must be done immediately, because cyber bullying is real, and destructive. Obviously, magic words are not the ones that belittle, insult, or make fun of. So don’t be afraid to stand out in the middle a little, because real magic, is KINDNESS.
Xiao, Bo Sophia, and Yee Man Wong. "Cyber-Bullying Among University Students: An Empirical Investigation from the Social Cognitive Perspective." International Journal of Business and Information. 8.1 (2013): 34-69. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.

Ockerman, Melissa S. "From the School Yard to Cyber Space: A Pilot Study of Bullying Behaviors Among Middle School Students ." Research in Middle Level Education Online. 37.6 (2013): n. page. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.

Delete Cyberbullying, prod. Talent Show - Cyberbullying Prevention Commercial. Ohio Commission DRCM, 2008. Web. 7 Apr 2014.