Friday, July 27, 2012

In the 2012 platform,

recently adopted by the Texas GOP, there are some unbelievable sections. One of the more controversial ones involves the opposition of critical thinking skills being taught in the education system. These include teachings that could undermine parental authority as well as cause the student to reconsider "fixed beliefs." 

My obvious concern with this is that, in my opinion, students should have the freedom to explore different beliefs and ways of thinking and that teachers should encourage this. How can a student experience intellectual growth if  they are forced to think with a never changing mindset? The great innovator Steve Jobs once said, "When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is, and...just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much...once you discover...that everything around you...was made up by people that were no smarter than you...and you change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can'll never be the same again." 

The Republican party is saying that it was a mistake to include "critical thinking" in the plank and that this mistake cannot be "fixed" until 2014. Word choice might have been overlooked in editing this important document, but how were the words "critical thinking" inserted there in the first place? And if that were truly a mistake, why would the plank include the statement of opposition of higher order thinking skills? A child/student should be allowed to explore higher thinking and have their thoughts challenged in order to contribute new ideas for the greater good of the world. Something about the opposition of critical thinking and of the opposition of challenging of a student's beliefs seems eerily 1984-like to me.

Censorship and restriction of higher thinking and critical thought processes extremely bothers me because as a people we cannot become mindless drones, stubborn to a change of mind and a lack of new idea contributions. Critical thinking is "thinking that questions assumptions." It is considered essential to many professions (think about how iPhone-less, we would all be if   not for Steve Jobs' critical thinking of the potentials of his abilities). A person should not be content with simple minded thinking and should be open to higher forms of thought. Intellectual thought is something that people cannot take away from you, when you have been stripped of your material things. Because a lifespan is so short, we should strive for bettering our minds to hopefully better society. Mistake or not, the addition of the opposition of "critical thinking" in the GOP platform is something that calls for concern.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quite honestly,

Ed Hubbard's post on same sex marriage nearly brought me to tears. I decided to go through Republican blogs because, as a person who leans more to the left, I reasoned it would be easier to argue a post I disagreed with than to support a post I agreed with. 

When I came across Hubbard's post, I was ready to counter all of his points, as same sex marriage is an "issue" that I feel shouldn't even be an issue. I was highly unprepared for what Hubbard had to say about same sex marriage. Not only did he back up his points with powerful quotes and rhetorical questions about universal principles, but he went on to identify himself strongly as a conservative Republican whose arguments showed that he has stepped into another's shoes and recognized his party's faults. He urges fellow Republicans to rethink their approach to same sex marriage, especially in the heat of political campaigns. 

One of my biggest concerns with the same sex marriage controversy is that a union between two people should not involve governmental intervention. The great opposition same sex marriage is met with seems silly. How does it seem right that, in some states, it is legal to marry your first cousin, yet in almost all of the states same sex marriage is illegal? Although Hubbard does not delve into the scientific realm of the argument, there are genetic problems that should be acknowledged. Marrying your first cousin and consequently producing children results in increased risk of deadly disabilities due to genetic mutations. Yet marrying your same sex partner does not yield the deadly results of inbreeding. 

One of the most moving parts of Hubbard's post is when he recognizes that the judgment of others for "sinning," is ironic for we are all sinners. He effectively acknowledges the fact that we all have tendencies that differ from the norm at some point in time, something that we should keep in mind before we turn against another fellow human being for their "sin." 

Currently Texas prohibits same sex marriage, a fact that continually puzzles me. The question that keeps running through my mind is, "how can same sex marriage be harmful to someone else?"  The question echoed louder when Hubbard used quote after quote from distinguished historical figures to demonstrate that we have presently lost touch with what our political fathers believed should bring us together--that we may express love towards each other. Hubbard makes a good point in that because our children and the new generation are listening to us, one must reflect on the fierce manner in which one express one's ideas. 

I've read through many of Hubbard's posts on various controversial topics, and I've disagreed with many of them, but it gives me hope to know that despite our different views on governing a group of people, he (and hopefully other conservatives out there) sees that despite the differences in sexuality, we are all still, at our core, humans. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

We must become better. We must.

I could not agree more with Falkenberg. It’s part of being a Texan to take pride in the vast diversity of the lone star state. We’ve got so much to brag about, from the culture to the geography to the history. But we focus on just that. Most Texans have yet to look at the present state of Texas. The statistics Falkenberg uses are shocking. Our state is ranked so low on education funding, a fact that should alarm parents and students alike. We are also ranked second worst in the amount of people (by percentage) who are food-insecure (lack of availability of food and access to it), and it is mind-baffling to me how so many Texans leave such statistics, or knowledge of, out when boasting.

I am confident that we Texans are more capable than this. In our economic situation, we cannot afford the audacity to cling onto our past victories or rich diversity and ignore the problems at hand. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including our pride. If the Texan citizens do not swallow the pride of the victories of our fathers, then our children will have nothing to rejoice for when Texas continues to plummet in education funding and food insecurity. I have always been proud to have been born and raised in the lone star state, but at this rate I’m not sure I’m too proud.

Contrary to Falkenberg’s belief though, I don’t think Texans deserve these “pitiful rankings.” Yes, the rankings show that we have not done too much to improve our state or that the systems in place aren’t working, but I believe, optimistically, that Texans will hopefully pull through. Hopefully we are proud enough to want to uphold the glorified state so that we may continue being proud.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rick Perry says "No" to PPACA

On July 9, 2012, Governor Rick Perry  announced his opposition  to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. To some, the Act passed by Obama is considered a "financial black hole." To others it means turning away the large population of uninsured people and leaving those less fortunate behind. My first reaction to Perry's blatant disregard for the plan was disbelief and irritation at how he could prevent 1.3 million Texans health care insurance. But, as all good things have a downfall, the PPACA is argued to cause a negative effect on the quality of medical care, despite its efforts to provide nationwide coverage. As a liberal, of course I would want to extend health care to those who can't afford it for themselves. However, this might mean the decrease in quality medical attention as well as increased taxes for American citizens, both of which would result in a heated response from the mass public. There is a fraction of my conscience that distrusts the government's ways at times, but it is possible that at this early stage in the implementation of the Act, it's difficult for citizens to see all of the benefits  it can bring. As a student going into the medical field, it pains me to contemplate whether the poor quality of medical care is worth extending health care/insurance. There are those who are still able at this time to provide health insurance for themselves, but is helping one unhealthy person save money worth having poor medical attention for the people after them? I noticed that under the PPACA, the proceeding of medical operations could be controlled by the government despite the patient's ability to afford it. However, Texas' current health care laws, the option to proceed with the operation is not under the government's discretion. With the current health care laws now though, the ability to afford the operation is obviously the biggest inhibiting factor. We cannot deny that we rank fairly low nationally in health care and my instinct is for health insurance and access to be felt by all, but in the heat of this controversy, it's hard for me to stand firmly on one particular side.