Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Background: Thích Quảng Đức was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk. He lived for peace, and did not support the decisions of Ngô Đình Diệm, who was the leader of Vietnam at the time. Ngô Đình Diệm pursued policies that rankled and oppressed the Republic's Montagnard natives and its Buddhist majority. Thích Quảng Đức burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Thích Quảng Đức was protesting against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Ngô Đình Diệm administration. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm regime. All those who saw this spectacle were taken by the fact that Duc did not make a sound while burning to death. After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact. This was interpreted as a symbol of compassion and led Buddhists to revere him as a bodhisattva, heightening the impact of his death on the public psyche. Thich Quang Duc was quick to point out (in letters left for the press) that his self-immolation was not an act of suicide, which would go against his Buddhist beliefs. Instead, Duc viewed the burning as a wake up call, a way to call attention to his cause. His death has been termed a "religious and/or political suicide" by Chinese Buddhism scholars, who state that it was religiously justified based on texts found dating back to the 5th and 10th centuries BCE.

Mohamed Bouazizi was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that was allegedly inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. A woman came up to the fruit vendor and stole his scale, which had happened before, but because Mohamed had made ten dollars a day, this was a big deal for him. He got really mad at the woman and she slapped him across the face. In an act set for a revolution, Bouazizi made his way to a gas station, where he set himself on fire. This act became the catalyst for the 2010–2011 Tunisian revolution, sparking deadly demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country. Anger and violence intensified following Bouazizi's death, leading then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on January 14, 2011, after 23 years in power.

A: Freedom is KEY in both of these cases- something Thich Quang Duc and Mohamed Bouazizi were losing, or didn’t even have. We have to stand up for what we believe in, and both of these brave men (heroes) knew that. They had both caused the world to know the same. When a leader, who thinks they are the “President Forever” (Ngô Đình Diệm and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali), tries to take away and run a country without freedom, extreme measures can be taken, whether you are a monk or a fruit vendor. These two cases compare with each other because both men had to reach the state of self-immolation to gain freedom and rights from corrupt leaders. They had BOTH given up everything for their before-peaceful countries; they had BOTH been true leaders and heroes.

B: I couldn’t help but think about the circumstances of each situation. As I was reading and watching, peace had become and issue! This is especially surprising because peace is not supposed to be an issue, but a result of bravery. Yes, bravery was displayed, but in the most atrocious way imaginable (to me): self-immolation. This really got me thinking about the measures that one has to take to make peace. Self-immolation is an issue that can make peace. Peace is not supposed to be an issue. Peace is gained through bravery. Bravery can be displayed through self-immolation. Do you see the cycle?

C: If Pain for Peace Prepares by Emily Dickinson

If pain for peace prepares
Lo, what "Augustan" years
Our feet await!

If springs from winter rise,
Can the Anemones
Be reckoned up?

If night stands fast -- then noon
To gird us for the sun,
What gaze!

When from a thousand skies
On our developed eyes
Noons blaze!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

OPTION 2/ Literary Analysis of WWI

Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck was a German-Prussian statesman who was a strong believer in, and conductor of, the unity of Germany. In addition to this thought of peace, Bismarck was a dominant figure in world affairs at the time, serving as the imperial chancellor of Germany from 1862-1890. He came up with the Bismarckian Alliance System (a defensive system of alliances created by Otto von Bismarck to isolate France through a system of German alliances with both Russia and Austria-Hungary) to try to create peace (through making alliances) and unite Germany. While Otto von Bismarck was a supporter of peace, he made many witty remarks about the effects of war and politics on the world.
“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.” This quote suggests the idea that the conflicts going on cannot be resolved by politics, but rather by the human kind having to turn to war: the weapons and the bloody violence. In the antebellum period before WWI, there was much imperialism going on. When one country would take control of another, there would be a lot of fighting (in order to get the common people of the overtaken country to give up their culture and to agree with what was going on in their lost land). This could not be settled by the imperialistic new leaders making speeches to the fallen hearts of the natives. In many cases, this would make the natives become more resentful.
Bismarck also states, “When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.” This quote is quite a metaphor, and can be perceived in many directions. However; I believe that Bismarck meant to further inform the world of the crisis that he foresaw (war because of the violence going on). This situation was literally “unbelievable,” so that if you told the truth about the world at this time (politically and economically), it would sound as if you were tying to decieve everybody into a horrid trick.
Last but not least, Otto von Bismarck makes a point to say, “The main thing is to make history, not to write it." This, Otto himself did, in many ways. This quote lives through Otto von Bismarck’s very legacy! By supporting peace, Bismarck was never really trying to form and sculpt history into the way he wanted it to be. Instead, he added to the mix something beautiful (with alliances): his Bismarckian Alliance System. This goes for war, also. Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck believed that if we just try to add our own culture and ideas to the “mix of history,” that we will be better, and happier, off with more life to live and less to lose; with a dream of peace, HIS dream of peace.

The White Man's Burden & Imperialism

1. “burden |ˈbərdn| (noun) : a load, esp. a heavy one that may cause hardship and grief.

The reason that I put the definition of “burden” here is because it is quite the word in this title, and intrigues me for the fact that it sounds as though it is carrying its own “burden.” For this poem, it is The White Man’s Burden. There is one thing that this phrase REALLY shows me, and it can, and DOES, run and ruin lives: greed. Greed for power, greed for wealth, and greed for imperialism. <imperialism |imˈpi(ə)rēəˌlizəm|(noun) a policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force.> At this time period, the white men of the world were vigorously urged toward imperialism. Kipling wrote this poem in 1899, and it was published in McClure’s Magazine. When Theodore Roosevelt read it, he copied it and sent the poem to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, claiming that “ it was rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.” This greed for imperialism led to the white men pursuing their urge for imperialism, but this resulted in high costs. You see, when one country gains land by taking another country under its rule, the extra land costs a lot of money. To me, this results in the white men having a large burden of both the costs and the urge of/for imperialism.
2. MY ANSWER: Kipling justifies Imperialism by referring to it as The White Man’s Burden. As I explained before, the burden is a synonym for the urge for imperialism, and after this is done, the burden of the cost for the extra land. Kipling also states, throughout the poem, more justification for Imperialism by stating “The easy ungrudged praise: /Comes now, to search your manhood / Through all the thankless years, / Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom.” In this quote he is describing that, in imperialism, there is easy reward with the bravery that the white men receive in imperialism. Also, Kipling states “To seek another's profit.” This line alone suggests rebellion against the leaders of the Empire. The common people of the land that was taken over would want to rebel against the leading country for taking away their religion and, mainly, culture. The government then feels like they have to control the mass of people in the larger land mass that they control, thus being forced into a communism of sort. WHAT WE SAID IN THE DISCUSSION IN CLASS: Kipling is being sarcastic throughout this poem. This is Rudyard’s realist poem. So, by stating the effects of imperialism, and because of the fact that Kipling is being sarcastic, he does not justify imperialism. This is the answer that we said in class during the discussion, and I believe that it proves an O.K. point.
3. Such a justification may be appealing because of the major power that it suggests, especially for the white men. Even though slavery was abolished in the United States, in other parts of the world there was still a lot of mistreatment toward the African Americans. The white men felt superior to them, so they felt that they could take over their land (especially in Africa) easier. This way, the white men could gain both LAND and POWER (both geographic and economic power). This was extremely appealing to the white men of that time, especially because the land would earn the empires more money (which was brought by power).