Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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If you’re so clever, why aren’t you happy?

In this week’s True Community (published this past Wednesday), I comment on America’s profit-at-all-costs mentality and how it affects young men who decide to pursue higher education. Personally, I often feel guilty that I’m unable to earn more money or provide more for my wife and family. I know that sort of guilt is learned, and it both informs and shapes the points of view of men seeking employment. The effects are negative, often to the point of damning the guys to failure before they even start learning anything.

Hope you’ll check it out. And please do share.

(Chicagoans will know the photo is of The Billy Goat tavern. It’s one of my favorite places to write in the evenings.)

 

Billy-Goat

 

Photo by vxla.


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College graduate who drives a taxi

This week, I got driven to work by a taxi driver who actually graduated from the college where I teach. He earned his liberal arts associates degree in 2003 and has been toiling through the remainder of a math and teaching degree ever since. I was so moved by his story that I profiled him in this week’s True Community, which I hope you’ll read and share.

taxi

 

Photo by Antony Mayfield.


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Teen pregnancy epidemic

Today’s True Community article deals with teen pregnancy, an issue that’s very important to me, and not merely as an educator. I’m using an extreme word, epidemic, in the title of this blog post perhaps unfairly; efforts to bring down the teen pregnancy rate have been working, and currently we’re at historic lows for all US ethnic and racial groups.

Still, in my environment I see it all the time, and it causes problems we’re all familiar with. I really think we need a shift in the consciousness surrounding our concept of sex education. We have to get over our puritanical point of view and give people information that can keep them from making poor decisions.

This week I profile a pair of students that I had some time ago. Their stories are sad but important. I hope you’ll check it out.

young-couple

 

Photo by Mike Baird


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Independence is a myth (part 2, the expanded version)

I’ve written about this topic before, as long-time readers of my blog will know. This week’s True Community article deals with the myth of independence. Any basic look at human interaction makes it clear that we are interdependent, and that our fate and lot is determined not just by the actions of neighbors but by people who’ve long since died. Why does that offend us? Why are we so reluctant to think of ourselves as members of systems instead of islands.

I hope you enjoy tonight’s article.

Here’s another bit on the same topic from 2012, titled The Pre-Birth Menu.

Three Lamps


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Global slavery statistics

I was moved and provoked by this article by Max Fisher that includes a map of global slavery. According to the graphic, there are 30 million slaves, 60,000 of them in the United States. The article makes clear that this is not a “softened” definiton of slavery. From the piece:

These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership.

I was immediately reminded of George Orwell’s assessment of the underclasses in his book Down and Out in Paris and London (which I teach in a remedial English class here at the college). The reason this form of blatant, forced labor and horrifying child sex and war slavery exists is because of a larger point of view that enslaves us all in the “softened” way Max Fisher is worried about. Here’s Orwell, writing in 1933:

I think one should start by saying that a plongeur is one of the slaves of the modern world. Not that there is any need to whine over him, for he is better off than many manual workers, but still, he is no freer than if he were bought and sold. His work is servile and without art; he is paid just enough to keep him alive; his only holiday is the sack. He is cut off from marriage, or, if he marries, his wife must work too. Except by a lucky chance, he has no escape from this life, save into prison. At this moment there are men with university degrees scrubbing dishes in Paris for ten for fifteen hours a day. One cannot say it is mere idleness on their part, for an idle man cannot be a plongeur; they have simply been trapped by a routine which makes thought impossible.

A routine that makes thought impossible. Or a routine that makes thought less desirable than the alternative, which is to tune out and believe that slavery is a thing of the past. The individual has choice and determines his own fate.

Barred