Crash: The Dichotomy of a Scene

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Perhaps the most profound irony in life lies in the way people affect each other’s lives, often without even knowing it, all while making it a point to keep those very people at a safe distance. We live behind walls – some self-erected, others put up for us – built from fear of the unknown, unwarranted judgments, and anything that we perceive to be a threat to our safety and happiness. Perfect strangers will sooner cast judgments on one another from afar, based on something as inconsequential as skin color or style of clothing, than they will hold open a door or share a cab ride. We rarely stop to consider the source, be it internal or external, of the wariness we hold for our fellow man. Once in a while, a chain of events will be set in motion that removes the distance we keep, and forces us to connect, for better or worse. The award-winning film Crash, directed beautifully by Paul Haggis, examines the chaotic and revealing intersections of a group of individuals in Los Angeles, most of whom are both victims AND perpetrators of racial prejudice. Continue reading

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Freedom: The Line In The Sand

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Freedom is a complex concept, defined by the individual, molded by their experience and learned worldview, and by its presence in their lives. It can be defined by a person’s place in the world, by their age, by their criminal history (or lack thereof), or simply by their perception of the basic rules of humanity. Freedom can be granted or taken away by any number of authority figures, such as parents, educators, or government officials.  In America, citizens are afforded many supposed freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or the freedom to love who you choose, just to name a few. However, none of the freedoms bestowed upon us as citizens of the world are absolute, neither in theory nor in practice. A reasonable person might agree that any particular freedom is limited at the point where choices made in the name of it potentially endanger the safety or lives of others. The concept of freedom is interesting in this way, as many people perceive it to mean the lack of restraints, while in reality, all freedoms are restrained by the rule of law in order to prevent chaos. Continue reading

The Price of Fairness

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It is certainly nothing new, but the economic disparity between the salaries of company owners or even high-ranking chief officers and those that work below them has stretched to an unacceptable width. As CEOs of many companies continue to rake in hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars per year, their employees on the front lines struggle to allocate their meager paychecks across all of life’s unavoidable expenses. If you’ve ever heard the saying “you get what you pay for,” you know it applies to many aspects of life. For the same reason there are probably certain items you shouldn’t purchase at a dollar store if you’re expecting supreme quality, employers who want the best talent and hardest workers to join their ranks need to offer a compensation package that is commensurate with that desire. Low pay, erratic and inflexible hours and scheduling, punitive recourse as opposed to constructive team-building, as well as lack of benefits and paid time off have become a depressing norm in many large corporations. It is no small wonder that the retail industry, which is notorious for the aforementioned practices, suffers such an explosively high employee turnover rate. Continue reading

Extra Innings

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After the first time I was done, I swore to myself that I would never go back. I thought up every excuse in the book, just to convince myself, let alone anyone else. Too much debt. Not enough time. No clue what I want to do. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I had just graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Political Science, and was still naïve enough to believe that the piece of paper I received, regardless of what I majored in, would see job offers thrown at me from all directions like baseballs from the stands. I went to college because that’s what you’re supposed to do after high school nowadays. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and it didn’t help me figure it out. I’ve spent a long time cursing my decision to ever go, blaming it for leaving me directionless and saddled with a mountain of debt. I’ll never regret the experience, though – the lasting friends that I made, blowing right past the “Freshman 15” and packing on double or even triple that with bad dining hall food, learning to love beer, being able to take afternoon naps, discovering new ideas, new music, and new people – I loved every minute of it. Continue reading