Remember to Register and Vote

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If you are one of the people who was horrified by the recent tragedy of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and you wish to do something to enact changes in gun legislation, there is one crucial action or actions you should take: if you are not registered to vote, register immediately, and then vote.

There is no excuse for not voting–none. And if you want to enact gun control legislation, then do your research and find out where the candidates stand. The population of the United States consistently polls that it wants gun control, so act on your convictions.

Voting is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, tools in our democracy, and I hope the young people who are leading this fight also register to vote when they are 18 and then vote. If we, who want gun control legislation, do vote, then our voices will be heard, and the narrow special interest that is the NRA will have its influence nullified.

Be sure to vote!

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Quotations on Political Courage and Political Cowardice

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Given the circumstances of the horror of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the hypocrisy of politicians in bed with the NRA and gun-makers, and their inaction about even considering reasonable gun legislation, I wanted to offer three quotations to consider:

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“There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.”

                                                        Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

                                                       President Abraham Lincoln

 

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“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

                                                      Albert Einstein

Let Us Celebrate Thomas Paine Day!

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January 29 is Thomas Paine Day, which is a time to remember one of the most important, but often forgotten, writers of the American Revolution. His pamphlet Common Sense was one of the main reasons that the majority of colonists came to support the revolution against England and for independence.

He was born and raised in Britain, and he became embroiled in legal problems for advocating the abolition of royalty. Afterwards, he would support the French Revolution, and he also ran into problems there, only to be imprisoned. He was later released because of influence by the American government.

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He was a revolutionary thinker and a representative of the Romantic movement, in which individual rights and revolution in all aspects of life and society were encouraged.

Paine went on to write several other important works, including Rights Of Man and The Age of Reason. If you have not read these works, I recommend all of them!

Like many of the other intellectuals of this time, Paine was a Deist and let his ideas be known. As a result of his forthcoming, he suffered being ostracized by many of those whom he  had helped.

He should be remembered, however, for his contributions to the United States of America, to human rights, and to literature.

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Quotations From Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir in Books

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I have been reading an extraordinary memoir Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi. In this wonderful book, Nafisi writes about her experience as a Professor of English Literature in Iran and the women who were her students and whom she taught in secret. Her writing is honest, compelling, and a text that all teachers and professors should read. It is an educational inspiration. I give this excellent book a complete recommendation.

For this post, I want to highlight a few quotations from the book:

“what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” (3)

“Don’t go chasing after the grand theme, the idea, I told my students, as if it is separate from the story itself. The idea or ideas behind the story must come to you through the experience of the novel and not as something tacked on to it.” (109)

“A novel is not an allegory, I said, as the period was about to come to the end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don’t enter that world, hold your breathe with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won’t be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. That is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience.” (111)

 

Works Cited

Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Random House. New York.

2004.

 

Quotations on Education

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“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

                                                                      Mahatma Gandhi

 

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

                                                                      Nelson Mandela

 

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“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

                                                                     Margaret Mead

Beautiful Writing: Part 3, Walt Whitman

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Walt Whitman is one of the most important American, if not world, poets. His work changed poetry, and he has been called the Poet of Democracy. His collection Leaves of Grass, is one of the books of poetry that I recommend everyone read sometime in his or her life.

I want to offer two examples of his work: this first is a brief excerpt from his preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass as a representation of beautiful writing. This is from the preface that Whitman wrote to his work, and it is in prose, but it reads like poetry.

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and

the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that

asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your

income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not

concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward

the people, take off your hat to nothing known or

unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely

with powerful uneducated persons and with the young

and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in

the open air every season of every year of your life, re-

examine all you have been told at school or church or

in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul,

and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the

richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent

lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your

eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

 

My second Whitman offering is perhaps his most famous poem and is about the death of Abraham Lincoln: “O Captain! My Captain!”

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

                         But O heart! heart! heart!

                            O the bleeding drops of red,

                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,

                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

                         Here Captain! dear father!

                            This arm beneath your head!

                               It is some dream that on the deck,

                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

                            But I with mournful tread,

                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,

                                  Fallen cold and dead.

 

Quotations on Integrity

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“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”

                                                                   Albert Einstein

 

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“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”

                                                                 Marcus Aurelius

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“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

                                                                Martin Luther King Jr.