Monday, June 6, 2011

Social Studies 30 Diploma

Throughout the 8 months of Social Studies 30 that we have experienced, and especially in the Post-English portion, the assignments and lessons present have thoroughly tested me when it comes to trying to interpret sources and analyze their beliefs in both an economical and political aspect. Also, with this, I have also found my greatest challenge to be the relation of the beliefs of a source in comparison to the philosophers discussed throughout the Social Studies 30 curriculum. Although, I do believe that over time, my work has shown an improvement in the interpretation of presented materials.

Key Concept Assignments:

Issue 1 (Identity):
Issue-Related Assignment
Graphic Organizer

Issue 2 (Resistance to Liberalism):
Issue-Related Assignment

Issue 3 (Contemporary Liberalism):
Issue-Related Assignment
Graphic Organizer


Issue 1:
Progressivism - Promoting the concept of change and reform to improve the overall structure of things (usually political).
Collective Norms - The common expectations and behaviours of people in a given society.

Issue 2:
Baron de Montesquieu – believes in the separation of powers, relative to Rule of law.
Brinkmanship: Attempt to push an enemy to the “brink” of disaster to force them into surrendering
Neo-Conservatism: fusion of Individualism and Classical Liberalism, used by the United States (puts main focus into military power and government control)

Issue 3:
Patriot Act - Act passed in the United States which restricted the rights of citizens regarding billing information, communication through phone and email, among other things to combat terrorism.
Illiberalism - A type of government that violates the concepts of liberalism, but still holds elections.

Issue 4:
Dissent - A disagreement.
McCarthyism - Making accusations of disloyalty (normally toward pro-Communist behaviour), normally supported by irrelevant evidence.

Practice Quiz Results:

Both Quizzes

Most of my reflection was focussed on studying the political spectrum to gain a better grasp on the 'right-wing' and 'left-wing' related questions. Alongside that, just general studying regarding the philosophers and their ideals was how I worked to improve my mark. Without this, I would not have been able to gain a perspective of my own, along with the ability to interpret and fully understand the sources provided in assignments throughout the year.

Diploma Practice Assignments:

Practice #1

On my mark review sheet, no teacher comments were made. However, with the marking gradient that was provided, I was able to interpret the weaker parts of my assignment, as well as the stronger areas. The lower point of my mark was in the analysis of the source, and I do believe that may have been partly due to the fact I did not clearly interpret the actual political belief system of the second source. Considering the fact that the source expresses distrust in socialism and faith in still providing Economic Freedom and Individual Rights & Freedoms, I would mostly likely claim the opinions of Source II to be of Classical Liberalistic views.

Practice #2

Once again, I was not given any specific direction regarding the improvement of my essay with actual comments, though my analysis of source was my lowest portion of my mark. With that in mind, I would take into account the fact that I lacked to describe the actual political structure for the source's beliefs. Considering how the source expresses the urge to support the needs of the group by restricting the freedoms of the individual temporarily, I would consider this a form of Modern Liberalism, specifically with the aspect of Welfare Capitalism. Therefore, I would probably want to include more information about how Welfare Capitalism and Modern Liberalism relate to direct portions of the source, and compare those aspects to my own opinions to try and form a position paper that responds more clearly to the question being answered.

General Showcase Assignments:

Assignment #1
Assignment #2

Contest/Publication Submission:

Moore Shilleto Submission

Example of Bibliography:

Bibliography (located on Slide 8)

Visual Assignment:

V for Vendetta - Viability of Liberalism

Oral Assignment:

Hamlet & Hobbes

Technology Assignment:

James Bay: The Story of Mathew Coon Come

Quizzes & Reflection (for Portfolio)

Quiz 1 (Scored 35/59)

Quiz 2 (Same questions as above, second time given the test) - Scored 52/59

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Moore Shilleto Submission

Expanding World Views: Education in Developing Countries

            We cannot truly take control of our lives without being ourselves, and we cannot affirm our own identities without first learning what we ourselves believe in as individuals. Through an educational system, individuals in society are provided with the fundamental means needed to bring forth a more productive lifestyle, and ultimately, more prosperous life as a whole. Unfortunately, though many of the human beings dispersed widely throughout the continents engage in everyday educational activities, other individuals, societies, and even countries are not so fortunate in that they lack the monetary funding for even the most basic learning programs. With this in mind, I believe that developed countries have an obligation to their less developed nations to ensure that all individuals are entitled to at least a basic form of learning and insight. However, I believe there should be a few conditions regarding the funding: Developed countries should be responsible for funding the educational system, and educational advisors should be expected to create the specific learning materials, ensuring that the cultural aspects of the developing country’s citizens do not be overlooked or covered up. Also, I believe that once more educated citizens in the developing countries find means to stimulate their economy, the developed countries should slowly move out of the program, allowing the developing countries to learn to maintain their own programs and organizations.

            Though I firmly believe that developed countries should assist their developing counterparts, there is always the condition of when to quit providing funding. However, considering the fact that knowledge and education is an invaluable resource, funding for such a program is something that should not be halted. Therefore, developing countries should only cease their assistance once the receiving country has the means to continue the educational programs on their own. Through this, not only will the country be able to continue providing access to education for all its citizens, but also, the country will begin to learn the techniques needed to sustain their own organizations, a skill that will benefit them countless times in the years to come. In addition, the educational programs could also be used as means to stimulate that country’s economy, providing for even more advantage. Then, not only would the developing country be able to create and influence its own culture with the concept of enlightenment, but also, the citizens would be able to contribute feedback and take control, allowing for both the implementation of program maintenance, as well as a stimulant for their own economy, resulting in greater financial stabilization.

            Putting the financial aspect of the educational implementation aside, there is another condition that can be brought into perspective that is crucial to the learning system’s success. In regards to the content material being taught, there is always a risk that the material creator’s opinions and beliefs may be forced upon the recipient of knowledge, making it so that the receiving individual’s opinions may not actually be of their own choice. Through this, education is not being used to help make people more confident in their own identities, but rather, the receiving end becomes a sponge, obtaining any information that the influencer enforces. Considering the Residential schools of the 19th century in Canada, where natives became forced out of their own cultural backgrounds and ways of life for the sole purpose of blending in with mainstream Canadian society, we do not want to force our own lifestyle and beliefs upon a culture once again. When creating the material to be learned in a developing country, the subject matter must be understanding and respectful toward the specific culture of the target individuals. If this criteria is met, the people will then be able to retain information to form their own values and beliefs, all while still maintaining the aspects of their culture that form the other portion of their identity.

            The power of knowledge and education is an irreplaceable tool that carves away the unknown and assists us in countless ways to forge our own futures the way we see fit. As no man or woman is more or less equal than the last, the ability to acquire understanding and use it to benefit oneself is something that every human being should be blessed with, regardless of where the individual resides. So long as developed countries who contribute to the educational systems of developing countries ensure the prevention of cultural masking, then financial assistance is a viable solution. Also, considering the possible likelihood of financial dependency, a limit should be placed on the amount of monetary assistance being provided to the developing countries once said countries begin to establish the means to provide for themselves and create a sustainable educational fund for themselves. With a wider variety of people originating from unique lifestyles sharing their own insight with the rest of the world, especially with a new foundation of learning, the potential for discovering new concepts in any given field will be even more likely than ever before, and in doing so, a better future will be created for all human society as a whole.

Diploma Writing Assignment II

            Individual Rights & Freedoms are a principle of Liberalism that are commonly taken for granted in everyday society, but to lose such privileges that we use on a daily basis would truly make us consider how much we value democracy as a whole.  In the included source, it is expressed that there may be times when the rights and freedoms may need to be restricted for the possibility of a democratic future. However, the need for such action may be deemed necessary or not, depending on the situation of the specific country. If, by chance, the country and its people are experiencing grave circumstances, then such drastic forms of action may be necessary to put the country back on the right track. Although, if a country is in less-severe political and economical standing, then by no means should the revocation of the citizens’ rights and freedoms be the first course of action to protect democracy.

            Despite the reservation that people may have to give up their own rights, if the entire country is in a crisis, it may be deemed necessary to prolong the lifespan of democratic principles. In post-WWI Germany, the Treaty of Versailles had left the country and its people deprived of even the basic means for survival. During this time, Adolf Hitler made his rise to power through the promise of a solution to the serious dilemma that Germany faced, at the cost of the citizens following his orders and giving up their own rights and freedoms. Though Hitler ended up running Germany as an Authoritarian leader, the citizens felt the need to sacrifice their own freedoms for the sake of a more prosperous future for all. In a situation like this, to try and salvage the remains of Germany from the shambles that it was in was a nearly impossible task, and though the rights of the citizens were being temporarily taken away from them, drastic measures were needed to try and ensure that there would even be a future in Germany.

            On the other hand, when a country isn’t struck down by as drastic of circumstance as life-threatening recession, sacrificing rights and freedoms should not be deemed “necessary to guarantee the preservation of democracy”, or at least not until the situation becomes worse. With the United States’ Patriot Act, the government attempted to implement a plan to combat terrorism both inside and outside of their home country.  The United States’ condition was in no way comparable to the disaster that unfolded in post-WWI Germany, the Patriot Act enabled the government to take action instantly, in case a risk were to suddenly arise. Through the premise of the act, rights and freedoms such as privacy in regards to communication and financial matters are sometimes violated, but only if a particular individual is deemed suspicious in regards to potential terrorism. This way, rather than instantly limiting the rights and freedoms of the entire country’s population is avoided, and only the individuals that may pose a potential threat to the well-being of the remainder of the country are inspected, though they are presumed innocent until found with means to incriminate. Along the same conditions is Canada’s Emergencies Act, which was the replacement to the War Measures Act. The Emergencies Act, like the Patriot Act, allows Canadian Parliament to suspend the rights of citizens deemed suspicious, for the purpose of ensuring the security of the country during a crisis.  To ensure that the citizens’ rights aren’t being taken away unnecessarily, declaring an emergency must be reviewed by Parliament first, and also, laws that are temporarily put into effect are subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ensuring that the rights of the citizens will be maintained one way or another. With both of these Acts ready for the time when an emergency may come forth, the people can feel safe, without having already lost their rights.

            We must be careful when deciding upon whether or not to take away the rights and freedoms of the citizens of any country, and also, whether such a drastic course of action is truly necessary. If the country is in need of radical improvement, then the end may justify the means. However, if the country is only caught up in a slight dilemma or even in no trouble at all, then by no means should they be considering individual rights and freedoms as a mandatory sacrifice. The government must be capable of taking a step back and fully evaluating the situation before deciding what is truly necessary, if their main intention is to keep the concepts of Democracy for the long run.

Monday, May 30, 2011

"3 Source Response" Assignment

            The first source directly supports and promotes the concept of Welfare State, and how it enables people to pursue their own ideals and individual greatness, though Economic Equality and John Maynard Keynes’ system of Keynesian Economics are there to provide a safety net for those who are unsuccessful in their individual endeavours. Also, it is stressed that people cannot find their own happiness and “cannot be free if they are beset by fear and security”, showing distaste for authoritarian governmental styles that revolve around fear and power control, such as one-party states like present-day North Korea and Germany from the era of Adolf Hitler. Through the source, Liberalistic principles such as Individual Rights & Freedoms are supported with negative connotations in regard to oppression “by reason of race, creed or color”. Economic Freedom and Human Rights are also being emphasized by referring to allowing people to “develop their individual capacities”, and additionally with the allowance to “receive just awards for their talents and to engage in the pursuit of happiness”. Specifically with the discussion of the “pursuit of happiness”, it can be said that Utilitarianism is also being suggested, considering that the creator of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, believed that the best thing for the people is to promote as much happiness in the people as possible.

            Source II expresses its negative opinion of Socialism, as well as the entire Left wing of the political spectrum, by stating that Collective and Socialistic ideals are simply to take from the wealthy and provide to the less fortunate. Also, through the heavily opinionated statement, “Assuming that production occurs by magic”, The source speaks of the lack of productivity for creating amenities that the people need, resulting in “domestic poverty” as a relentless form of economic recession and “spread[ing] hunger around the globe”. Though few supported concepts of Liberalism can be derived from direct quotations in the source, it is implied that principles that stimulate the economy through individualistic views are being emphasized, such as Economic freedom and Individual Rights & Freedoms, as well as aspects such as Competition through the thought that the source is negatively commenting about socialism being responsible for “taxing the producers and subsidizing consumers”.

            In the final source, the political cartoon blatantly supports Capitalistic ideals through the direct promotion of Economic Freedom, as well as the negative feedback toward Economic Equality through the people in the cartoon’s disgust for everybody receiving a profit during the described “economic boom”. Through this, the people portrayed in the cartoon receive no rise in the economic hierarchy, creating the basis for their dissatisfaction. Even though no individual is being placed in economic deficit, the men depicted are still not content, due to the fact that they have no profit in comparison to the people around them in their society, and possibly in the business industry that they may reside in.

            All three sources have basic similarities in the sense of promoting the allowance for people to provide for themselves and move themselves upward on the economic ladder through the principle of Economic Freedom, whether it would be for the purpose of making the people happy, obtaining a profit, or just plain avoiding the values of socialism. Though their purposes may be varied, all the sources describe their opinions in that Economic Freedom is a quality in an economic style that is used to benefit the people by allowing everybody to practise their own tactics toward climbing the financial ladder. Regardless of why the sources have motive to point out the usefulness of Economic Freedom, however, is irrelevant, because they all underline the basic thought of giving every individual the chance at greatness and financial glory, so long as the individual takes the chance and works towards his or her own benefit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Part 4 - Position Paper

Individualistic Thought and the Potential for Equality

      Friedrich von Hayek was a loyal classical liberal, believing strongly in such concepts as a free-market economy, economic freedom and self-interest, while also strongly opposing the possibility of socialism in politics, as well as collectivist thought altogether. With the quotation provided in the source, von Hayek emphasizes his ideals in that the concepts of socialism cannot provide society with a true form of equality, due to the fact that even when the people will not follow through on the concepts of liberalism like self-interest and economic freedom, the governing power will take their place. Through this, an “enforced equality” will always present itself. I believe that even though there is logic to von Hayek’s words, there is a limit to the extent to which his ideals would benefit society without being blended the principles of collectivism that help form the overall ideals of modern liberalism. Taking von Hayek’s concept into consideration, prosperity becomes a possibility, but only at the cost of leaving others behind.

      The concept of economic freedom is a critical component in von Hayek’s argument, especially through his statement, “authoritarian determination of status of each individual in the new hierarchical order”. With this quotation, he explains that even with the concept of having a Government in control of the economical ranking and placement of individuals, there will always be a form of segregation between people in regards to their economic placement, or rank in society. Due to this imbalance, socialism becomes an unlikely fix for a gap between the social and economical classes. There will always be individuals with the desire to make their own lives better, and to move up in society into greater economic prosperity. I can agree with von Hayek in the sense that the possibility of having all individuals in a society maintaining the same economical status is very unlikely. Although strict economic freedom provides the opportunity for anybody to improve their own quality of life, the flaw with that ideal is that people with less means to success may result in a poorer quality of life. To fix this, a more complete and thorough plan must be implemented, such as bringing modern liberalism into effect instead. Then, von Hayek’s ideals on economic freedom are still kept in tact, while other principles such as welfare capitalism can create a safety net for those who are less prosperous, using specific things like minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and other things to ensure that everybody is given a chance at success.

      Going hand-in-hand with economic freedom is the principle of self-interest, and Friedrich von Hayek stands firm in his belief that self-interest is simply how the economy exists. Being a supporter of free-market economics, he believes that the economy is fuelled by self-interest. Keeping this in mind, von Hayek also expresses that equality cannot be achieved, even with a government-directed economy, due to the fact that it “can only result in an officially enforced inequality”. This means that an extra driving force or form of bias will always arise, resulting in the individual temptation to break free from the lower ranks of other groups of people. I believe that these aspects of Friedrich von Hayek’s ideals are reasonable, considering the materialistic desires of the majority of individuals even to this day. However, without even partial government intervention, the economy becomes completely at the mercy of the entire society; when the people suffer, so does the economy. During the Great Depression, the economy was being maintained with a free-market system, although the people had no spending money to continue stimulating the economy itself, resulting in the American market plummeting. The fact that the economy ends up being completely reliant on the constant fluctuation of spending patterns by the people creates the consistent chance for another crash like the Great Depression. This is why, despite the free-market’s positive aspects, I believe that the governing power should at least have the power to implement some form of defence against the possibility of another recession. This way, communities and individuals can still indulge in their own desires and interests, while still having confidence that their entire economy will not collapse overnight.

      Though Friedrich von Hayek brings forth realistic and sensible ideas to promote a more successful economy, his ideals provided in the source seem like a half-constructed plan. His promotion of the individualistic-based principles of Liberalism create the possibility for success, but the lack of collectivist ideals create an even greater possibility to form a margin between the successful and the individuals who fall back into economic deficit. Even with the concept of economic freedom, the possibility of everybody benefitting is a large stretch, which is why concepts like welfare state make up for its shortcomings. Also, in regards to self-interest and free-market economics, the relentless fluctuation from strength to weakness in a country’s finance brings forth a much more fragile economy altogether without a safety net to play a supportive role during difficult times. Therefore, though we may be able to agree with and acknowledge the principles that von Hayek presents as understandable and insightful, and even though a society built on a foundation of equality is unlikely, a comfortable zone in between the two extremes is, in my opinion, the greatest likelihood for prosperity to benefit the everyday individual, as well as the overall society.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Impressions on the 2011 Canadian Federal Election

In my honest opinion, I believe that this year's federal election will be more productive in terms of shifting the placings of the non-winning parties. When it comes to the winning party, I regretfully believe that the Conservatives will come out on top, mainly because individuals have a hard time changing their opinions, especially when they're already stuck in with the same opinion as the majority of the society around them. However, they likely will stay as a minority government (most likely due to the fact that Alberta doesn't have enough people to sway the election further than they already do). Looking back into the past, Conservatives have had a significant lead in popularity in Canada for many years, and I don't think enough has happened to change the opinions of the majority of citizens in our country.

In regards to the opposition party, I have a feeling that title will be granted to Jack Layton and the NDP. Considering the amount of ground he has been gaining lately with voters in Quebec and many other areas throughout Canada, and even becoming more popular than Michael Ignatieff as of late, I believe such a rapid change in loyalties will be reflected in the polls tomorrow. With Ignatieff's natural disadvantage by being the leader of the Liberals (due to the implementation of the National Energy Program by Ex-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), I find it hard to believe that his party will be able to remain in the seat of the opposition party.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Part 4 - Individual Learning IV

I believe that in most ways, the needs of Canadian citizens would be benefitted most by the governmental style of a Proportional Representation Democracy. Still being a Democracy, like Canada’s current Parliamentary Government, the voices of the citizens will be included in determining the needs of the overall country. However, the major change in which I would expect a benefit would be the way that representatives are distributed. Currently in Canada, the amount of seats held by the Conservative party incorrectly represents how many votes they have received in recent elections. If Canada were to provide their seats to the parties based on their percentage of votes, then smaller parties would be given more of a fighting chance to allow their ideals to be heard alongside the older, more experienced parties. With this, the potential for coalitions and mixed ideals would become more likely, and it would be more reasonable to expect the parties to at least try and work together to try and reach greater benefit for Canadian citizens.

Plus, then maybe they’d get along and spend less money on attack ads and more on getting things done.

… Nah.

Part 4 - Individual Learning III

Type of  Democratic Government
Princples of Liberalism Rejected
Principles of Liberalism Accepted
Who has the majority of the power?
Extent of the power that can be used?
Current Examples of Government
Individual Rights & Freedoms, Self-Interest, Rule of Law, Suffrage (if voting takes place), Human Rights
The people (everybody has the same amount of say and control).
The people can use as much or as little as they choose, but essentially their power is limitless.
Individual Rights & Freedoms, Self-Interest (to an extent), Suffrage, Rule of Law, Competition, Human Rights, Labour Protection & Unions, Welfare Capitalism, Economic Freedom, Private Property
The Executive Branch in cooperation with the Legislative Branch.
Power is shared evenly between the branches that are voted in.
United Kingdom, Canada
Rule of Law, Self-Interest, Competition, Individual Rights & Freedoms, Economic Freedom, Private Property, Welfare Capitalism, Human Rights, Labour Protection & Unions, Suffrage
The President & the rest of the Executive Branch
The President has control unless 2/3 of the majority votes against him.
United States, France
Proportional Representation
Self-Interest (some portions of the concept)
Individual Rights & Freedoms, Self-Interest (to an extent), Suffrage, Welfare Capitalism, Human Protection & Unions
The Government, provided that they have majority rule, as granted by the people.
Depends on if the government is a minority or majority. Majority gives total power, minority limits.
Venezuela, South Africa, Israel

Democracy is waves in a pond – with one person’s voice making waves, the ripple slowly and gently spreads. With even more people, strong waves are formed, establishing a movement.

Type of Authoritarian Government
Princples of Liberalism Rejected
Principles of Liberalism Accepted
Who has the majority of the power?
Extent of the power that can be used?
Current Examples of Government
Self-Interest, Individual Rights & Freedoms, Human Protection & Unions, Suffrage
Rule of Law, Human Rights (to an extent) Competition, Economic Freedom (sometimes), Competition
The Monarch (king/queen/tsar, etc.)
Complete and total power.
Saudi Arabia
Self-Interest, Rule of Law, Individual Rights & Freedoms, Human Rights, Human Protection & Unions
All, depending on what the Authoritarian Government has to offer.
The minority of ‘elites’ (normally self-appointed) who have control of the country.
Complete and total power.
Russian Federation
One-Party State
Self-Interest, Rule of Law, Individual Rights & Freedoms, Human Rights, Human Protection & Unions
Suffrage (They have the RIGHT to vote for whoever … From the one party.), Others depend on what the government offers.
The leader of the single party.
Complete and total power.
Cuba, North Korea
Military Dictatorship
Self-Interest, Rule of Law, Individual Rights & Freedoms, Human Rights, Human Protection & Unions
All, depending on what the Dictatorship is trying to provide for the citizens and the country overall.
The leader of the military.
Complete and total power.
Myanmar, Egypt

Authoritarianism is staring into the dark – you think you know what’s directly ahead of you, so you blindly move forward … Until you run face-first into the brick wall that the seemingly-cooperative Government has placed in your way.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Part 4 - Individual Learning II

I believe that there is some form of an obligation and responsibility that Canada must uphold in regards to Afghanistan's newly embraced democratic system. Though the Afghan people were the ones to take initiative and agree to the change to democracy, they would have never even considered taking initiative to change their systematic lifestyle if it were not for Canada's consistent ushering.

However, for the assistance in upholding the new democratic views that may be needed in the future, I do believe Canada should more or less supervise from behind the scenes for the time being. If Canada continues to guide Afghanistan and tell them exactly what they should be doing, exactly how and when they should be doing it, they won't be able to try and find some form of balance that will be comfortable for their country and their people, they will simply be following in our precise footsteps. Considering the disputes that Aboriginals have had with their cultural restrictions in Canada in the past, such as the established Residential Schools, the attempt to try and forcefully convert one group of people to blend in with another is something that is both disrespectful and bound to lead to severe repercussions.

If the time comes where political unrest and violence begins to unfold in the country of Afghanistan, then yes, I believe we should be stepping in to try and help prevent injury and casualties. Although, so long as the Afghan people are trying to build a foundation for themselves that will result in a more prosperous future for all of their citizens, then we really don't have the right to try and change things to be more like us.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Individual Resistance 5 (Brandon & Nick)

                Regarding the rejection of Liberalism, the establishment of a Totalitarian regime is not completely necessary, but history has proven that it is the course of action that most, if not all countries and human beings have chosen to take. Considering Germany’s rejection of Liberalism in the time of Adolf Hitler, Germany became more inclined to change to a form of Fascism, which included a totalitarian leader. In Russia’s time of reform to react against the Czarist system and uncontrolled free-market economy, the Bolsheviks (communist group) and their leader, Vladimir Lenin, wanted to destroy the current system and replace it with one containing more totalitarian control.
                In a more contemporary example, even more theocratic nations such as Iran have ignored the system of Liberalism for one more focused on religious motive. Rather than including traits of Liberalism, Iran has continued to rely on their Supreme Leader, currently Ali Khamenei. With the title of ‘Supreme Leader’, Khamenei has established totalitarian traits by having more power than even the President of Iran, which is used for things such as appointing people of high positions in the military, government, and judicial court.
Throughout history, when citizens have been deprived of their basic primitive materials to support life, they have looked for someone who would be able to guide them to a more beneficial way of life. With a Totalitarian leader such as Hitler, Lenin or Supreme Leader Khamenei, the people naturally respond with hope and promise.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Digital Portfolio - Part 1: ELA

I believe that Humanities 30 has been more of a personal battle than anything else when it comes to criteria of assignments and the actual final products that I brought forth. This year, more than any other, has tested me to show more confidence and resolve in the material I discuss, as well as the beliefs and opinions I have obtained regarding certain materials and situations. Through being able to support my own thoughts, I believe my voice in my writing has become even stronger than it was before. As in the Expository Writing assignment "Part 3 - Critical Response", I believe my narrative voice seems much more firm than it ever was before.

Throughout English, I have always had difficulties branching my thoughts to offer a voice in a unique perspective, such as in the Creative Response "Individual Challenge1". Though, despite venturing out of my comfort zone to write something of that variety, I also count it as one of my biggest successes in Humanities. That assignment tested me to think from a more abstract viewpoint, and I really enjoyed taking on the challenge of something new. After re-reading the final project, I now feel more willing to try unique styles of assignments, when such an opportunity arrives.

After Grade 12, I plan to attend the University of Alberta for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. With this, I am not sure where exactly it will take me, but I want to be able to place myself in a career where I feel I can try and make a difference in the thinking of individuals for the better, to try and help shed more insight on pressing matters that envelop our world. I feel that the personal growth in my own beliefs and my own thoughts has contributed to making me feel ready to handle what may be thrown my way in the upcoming years of University, in both an educaitonal and social/personal aspect.

Expository Writing:

Hamlet's Delay
Part 3 - Critical Response

Personal Response:

On the Rainy River -- Personal Response
Personal Response to Texts -- Regaining Honour and Certainty

Creative Response:

Response to "The Swimmer's Moment"
Individual Challenge 1 -- "Let's Be Honest... (Horatio's Thoughts on Current Events)"

Independent Reading:

Fahrenheit 451

Part 3: Critical Response

From Ignorance to Greatness
Brandon Langrock

                Throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and especially in the third film, The Return of the King, director Peter Jackson strives to portray and develop the idea that people, though they understandable have hesitation towards taking the right back and accepting responsibility for themselves or others, they still manage to come to terms with the situation that confronts them, and act accordingly. Though many characters in the saga display some form of personal conflict looming inside of them, a few characters shine the brightest when their homeland needs them the most. Aragorn, a strong, yet rugged member of the fellowship, shows impulsive and heroic action whenever he is needed, though the responsibilities that derive from his lineage are a heavier burden to bear for him. Sam, however, is a simple hobbit from the Shire, and originally doesn’t show any form of heroism, until the time came when obstacles brought out the inner strength that he had. With these two characters, Peter Jackson shows that individuals are capable of feeling pressures from the responsibilities and expectations that loom around them, but he also shows that those same individuals have the strength to take action, and that they have the ability to handle anything that is thrown their way.

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
-          Aragorn, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

                Aragorn, initially relying on the alias labeling him ‘Strider’, hid his true identity from the people around him, and in doing so, kept his noble lineage concealed to avoid the truth. Though he never doubted his destiny as one of the leaders of the war against Sauron and to become the future king, he was still extremely vulnerable to his own conscience. Through this self-doubt, Aragorn was consumed with fear regarding his ability to overcome the evil of the Ring, and the possibility that he would end up meeting the same fate as his ancestor before him. While leading the fellowship, Aragorn continued to doubt his actions and the wisdom that he brought forth after he lost Gandalf in the mines of Moria, as well as during the following misfortunes that came forth afterwards. However, upon witnessing the overwhelming destruction that was going to engulf the entire world, Aragorn realized that he had to come to terms with his inner turmoil.  The path that had been laid out for him could no longer be avoided, and even though there was no guarantee he would be able to handle the challenges ahead, Aragorn knew that taking no action at all would simply result in the annihilation of all Middle Earth. Director Peter Jackson used Aragorn to relate to the everyday individual in numerous ways, especially in the sense of acknowledging personal struggle. Despite the negative consequences that may come forth as a result of taking action, such as failure, there is no victory that comes from simply doing nothing at all. In the end of the trilogy, the Lord of the Rings director shows Aragorn, the newborn king, in a radiant glow, symbolizing the prosperity and good fortune that has come forth from Aragorn taking responsibility for himself. Aragorn no longer shows doubt or despair, but only comfort and optimism for the future ahead.

“I don’t think there will be a return journey, Mr. Frodo.”
-          Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

                Samwise Gamgee, otherwise known simply as Sam, had no direct obligation to the fellowship, as well as no personal connection to the Ring itself. Literally, the only reason he was in the fellowship was because he was caught eavesdropping on Gandalf, which resulted in Gandalf forcing him on the whirlwind adventure. Throughout the journey, Sam even shows hesitation to show his own heroic traits, and his own heroism doesn’t begin to come forth until The Return of the King. There, though, Sam begins to realize the gravity of his promise to Gandalf to protect Frodo throughout their journey, and he also draws focus from the loyalty and respect he has for Frodo as well. Unlike more natural heroes, Sam originally performs heroic actions more consciously, rather than in such an impulsive and fluent manner as more comfortable heroes such as Aragorn do. Although, in Return of the King, Sam finds himself impulsively charging into battle to save Frodo from She-lob, a massive and ferocious spider with the direct intent to kill and devour. Even with not being labeled one of the staple heroes of the Lord of the Rings saga, Sam was still willing to sacrifice his own chance for future and take responsibility for Frodo’s predicament. Despite all of the negative connotations and stereotypes about hobbits that were brought forth by the humans, Sam brings forth more of a heroic and determined nature than many of the humans in Middle Earth, despite both parties being aware and potentially discouraged by the likely demise that loomed ahead. With this, Sam portrays obvious traits of someone who was able to come to terms with the tasks at hand and follow through on necessary action. With Sam, Peter Jackson constantly emphasizes that even an everyday individual has the ability to do great things. Being a hobbit, Sam already is given a natural disadvantage in Middle Earth, and his original traits boast no positive advantage to make their journey any easier. However, he still manages to remain strong and true to himself, despite the relentless struggles that he and his comrades face. The everyday individual has the exact same potential, in the sense that we, too, can take responsibility for our own situations, or the situations of the ones around us, to take charge with the intent of creating a better tomorrow.
                Whether it is through Aragorn, a natural born leader with the hesitant, yet never-ending willpower to combat anything that is thrown his way, or even through Sam, a more common and unlikely hero, director Peter Jackson relays to the viewing audience that the traits and the background of an individual isn’t of great importance when it comes to fulfilling obligations. The fact of the matter is that any individual can do incredible things, as long as they are willing to acknowledge the responsibilities that surround them and take hold of the actions that must be done to see those responsibilities accounted for. Those who choose not to fulfill their own expectations, however, end up having their world fall to pieces around them. Whether an individual chooses to leap in and be decisive, or simply run away from all of their problems, however, is a choice that he or she has to make alone, and the consequences or rewards will be ahead on their paths throughout life accordingly.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Poetry to Film Comparison

I am using this image to relate to the poem “The Swimmer’s Moment”. In this picture, the individual is blissfully ignoring the fact that he is about to be consumed, literally.

“By their refusal they are saved
From the black pit, and also from contesting
The deadly rapids, and emerging in
The mysterious, and more ample, further waters.
And so their bland-blank faces turn and turn
Pale and forever on the rim of suction
They will not recognize.”
-          The Swimmer’s Moment by Margaret Avison, Lines 5-11

 In a symbolic view, the dragon can resemble a form of ignorance to those in the poem who choose not to combat the “deadly rapids” that are brought forth in their lives. By doing so, however, those individuals face a life of isolation, void of true enlightenment regarding the situations surrounding them. Alongside said ignorance, they find themselves longing for something more; without having taken the chance to immerse in the concept of knowing, the end result is a life spent questioning where a different decision could have led.
The very same concept can be related to Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. From having ignored his lineage and responsibilities for the first two movies of the trilogy, the true king of Gondor finally began to acknowledge the expectations that had been laid out for him and his royal bloodline. Obviously, the power of the Ring and the concern over becoming corrupted like his ancestor is something to be worried over, but Aragorn eventually realized that the line had to be drawn. No longer did he have the opportunity to let “whirlpools” pass him by. Comparing his situation to the image, the dragon can also be used in a literal sense in resembling the enemy forces of Mordor, alongside the symbolic meaning. If Aragorn chose to neglect his obligations for much longer, the entire Middle Earth would have been engulfed and destroyed by the armies of Mordor. Instead, however, Aragorn decided to find his “whirlpool”, and so he dove right in, bracing himself for the “mysterious, and more ample, further waters” ahead.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Individual Resistance I

Loss of Hope // Desperation

Today will be the same as tomorrow and the days past.

Walking out into the streets, I feel the country itself breaking down. People missing and quite possibly dead, others starving in the streets, unable to save their families from a downward-spiralling future.

We have no food, and yet there we have no money to buy the food. This isn’t the way it should be.

If only things were like they were in the past, when we could actually afford our means of survival. It’s like we’ve got the urge to fly, but our wings have been clipped and our legs shackled to the floor. All the desire in the world won’t save us from our current state.

We’ve lost our spark; our will to go on is nothing more than a faded memory now. We cannot change our future, not while our hands are tied as such. Light at the end of the tunnel? No, not in our story. It went out long ago.

We are desperate for change, and yet, we have no means to promote hope for ourselves. The downward spiral continues.