Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Declaration of Independence

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"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

The very last line of the Declaration of Independence, with all it's ferocity, leaves you with a deep sense of the assurance the signers must have felt in their hearts when they they sealed their letter up in an envelope and sent it on over the ocean blue. It reflects the bravery and gusto with which they told the King to take a hike.

But they didn't simply tell him to take a hike, they pointed blatantly to all his flaws, oppressive shortcomings, and lies; in order to say "We no longer want you, we are not connected to you, goodbye." This last line, eloquently spoken, is a promise to the King that they were dead serious.

Politically speaking, we are all fairly familiar with what is going on in the Declaration of Independence. The colonies, after the French and Indian War, became increasingly upset over an influx in taxation. This led to the cry "No taxation without representation!" Which further escalated into the formation of what we now know as our country, land of the free, America! And this phrase clearly says that they were dead serious about forming and molding America without the British interrupting.

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The interesting thing about this quote, to me, is when they bring to light their source of strength. They say "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence" right before they promise the King that they won't be backing down.

Providence is used several times in the Declaration of Independence, to refer to the higher being they all believed in. Divine Providence is defined as God's intervention in the real world and is used as a name for God. They were trying to tell the King that God was on their side, so they had no reason to be afraid. They were relying heavily on the bravery coming from this Divine Providence to defeat the political attachments between the colonies and the King and start anew.

The Founder's reliance on God is an idea that had all but disappeared from modern thinking. Sad? Maybe. Probably. The Founders had an incredible source of hope and justice, a wonderfully stable crutch that America has chopped up and thrown out.

When we read this quote today, we see an old faded ideology. An old, long forgotten, silly puritan influence. In the big scheme of things (we tell ourselves) they really just meant that they weren't staying beneath the Kings control. With or without Divine Providence, the Declaration is an attempt to set up a nation without forced religion.

But the Declaration of Independence is what it is. Considering it was crafted as the cornerstone of the United States of America, it deserve a noble respect. We may have to amend and re-amend the living daylights out of it, but we should never lose what it stood for and what it has meant to so many people.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Now I'm 16..

One thing I hate most is the day-after my birthday. The day when only people who really didn't care feel like they owe it to me to say "Happy birthday!" in the hallway. The day when I come home to the half eaten cake, and I want the brand new perfectly-iced cake again.

I guess it's selfish of me to say it, but I really hate when the celebration is all over. It feels like an awkward smile, how you never really know when to stop smiling and somehow it just naturally fades away. One second you are, the next second you aren’t. You didn’t even feel your lips change.

In some ways I’m greatly disappointed, because I never thought I could turn 16 so nonchalantly. As a kid, I was always counting how many years it was till I was 16. Like sixteen would be the magical age where suddenly I’m living the life of one of "the Plastics."

I expected a big party, pink puff balls and cake. Somewhere in there I saw myself in a pretty convertible with someone’s football jersey on. Mostly I saw myself with perfectly ironed ringlets in my hair and a dress wrapped and scrunched with tulle. Pink tulle. And that shimmery lip gloss that makes your lips look like they are floating under a shallow layer of water and the sunshine's glistening on them just so.
The Plastics

But no, life doesn't work like that. Shocking.

What I expected would happen isn't what happened, because the life of a 16 year old girl (despite popular stereotypical beliefs) isn't all pink and fluffy. My life is full of black and white words on pages, on tests; Mrs. Rader's green pen all over that last math test I failed, and the red pens of all my other teachers scribbling more anxiety into my brain.

No watery lip gloss or scrunchy pink tulle here.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Journey to Literacy

Being a little sister is a tough life. Being a little sister to a red-headed, freckle-faced boy is tougher.

The benefits: I learned my alphabet when I was barely 2. Impressive, I know. 

The misfortunes: I had to endure way too many sword fights with sticks and trash can lids. 

However, I had an incredible determination to be just like Shelty. To the point of tears when my mother told me I couldn't wear only shorts at the beach, like Shelty did. That was a scarring day. I couldn't believe that simply because I was a girl and he was a boy, I had to wear more clothes than he did. Just to build the same sand castles. I felt like I was being treated unfairly. 

When we were home and fully clothed, my mother home-schooled us. I learned things along the same pace that Shelty did, despite our age difference. She made us both sit down and journal, do our math together, and read books for an hour or so daily. And Shelty was always, constantly, reading. I remember when he must have been 8 or 9, he was reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she stayed in bed all day and Shelty read his books to her stomach, and I'm pretty sure his stories stuck, because when I popped out, I loved books and stories. They fascinated me, and eventually he taught me how to read. With red-headed impatience and an air of self-confidence all his own. 
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Dr. Seuss was instrumental to the evolution of my reading capabilities, because after Shelty graduated from 1/4 inch books, he was ready for me to read by myself.  During our reading hour, I'd climb up to the top bunk with several Little Golden Storybooks and read out loud to myself. This drove Shelty absolutely insane, because he'd be on the bottom bunk trying to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J. K. Rowling. But speaking the words was my only hope for comprehending them. He told me to read silently, but I'd say, "That's not reading at all!" 

It took me quite a while to realize my brain could do all the speaking and comprehending without any help from my mouth.

By the time I was 10, my brother and I were both reading at college level and I understood the difference between proper swimwear for girls and guys. Thankfully. 

Dr. Seuss has since been replaced with Sylvia Plath, Gillian Flynn, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lois Lowry, and other amazing storytellers.