Different View On Poverty

How has reading this book or discussing in class caused you to think about some of these social issues in a different way?

Ever since I was a young kid, my mom would often tell stories of her rough childhood in poverty. (It wasn’t as bad as Boonma’s state though, I think.) Despite that, before reading the book “No Way Out”, I’ve always felt that poverty was a distant problem from my life and hadn’t thought much about it. The book described in gruesome detail about the characteristics of poverty, and what people really go through. It helped improve my understanding of the circumstances of those people, and made me feel compelled to help these people somehow. I wanted to walk right into a slum and just hand people money from my wallet, because I don’t need the money as much as they do. As of this moment, I want to help those people when I grow up.

Another thing is that I thought that poverty is something that happens to people who don’t try to change their lives. My mom got out of poverty and has much more money now than she did in her past because of her hard work, while some of her siblings struggle with money because they hadn’t worked as hard as she did in their younger years. Because of the stories that my mom tells me, I saw people in poverty as people who don’t try. That worldview has changed over the years, and before I read the book I already was thinking about how people in poverty didn’t have much of a choice, and the book really established that thinking for me.

Another worldview that changed for me is my view on prostitution. In the beginning I felt that it was a very dishonourable profession, and I never wanted to involve myself with those who are in it. Throughout the years I also knew more about it, partly thanks to ICS talking to us about it in chapels and homerooms. When I read to the part where it turns out that Sida and her mom is in prostitution, I felt sympathy for them instead of distaste. They had to choose to either become prostitutes or continue suffering with money, and it is understandable that they chose the former.

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Why do bad things happen to good people?

The book No Way Out is very sad and depressing, and it asks a lot of big questions of life. For example, a question that stood out to me is “Why do good things happen to good people?” Everyone asks this question when something terrible happens to them without a good reason why, or their actions had not caused the terrible thing directly. Another reason why is when the person had been working very hard to make things right, but it doesn’t go the way they want and it causes them pain.

In my opinion, this question is asked once the person is very deep in despair. They ask it despite there be no answer, just to question their situation, to question the life that plays with their resolve. They feel like they’ve been doing good things for a long time, yet life punishes them. In the book, Ort worked really hard for his family. He cared for his grandfather and little brother when no one else was around. Yet, his efforts were not enough to care for his grandfather and so he had to resort to something more extreme, which is stealing from the factory. His intentions were pure and good, but then he was caught by the security guard. It seems almost like life is playing with him.

Holocaust survivor story

The person I read about was a Jewish dentist, and his life hadn’t been terrible compared to many other stories of Holocaust survivors. He had gotten a good German who was in charge of him, and had given him necessary tools for dental sessions, like chairs, a drill, and hand pieces. The German had also given him books, textbooks, and manuals to read. And so, the person was able to work as a dentist again and support his brother and father.  One day the German wanted to have a dentist appointment with him and pointed a gun to the dentist. The dentist said that he didn’t have to be afraid of him hurting him in the process, because if he did the German would kill him and kill a hundred others. Later, a new German came to take charge of the dentist instead, and was really anti-Semetic and cruel to the dentist compared the the first one. He kept pointing out things that was wrong, and made the dentist go up and down on the chair until he could not.

This story may not be as powerful as some others, but it gave me an insight to a different view of a Holocaust survivor. This person had not been put into the camp, and his family was safe from the real terrors of the Holocaust. The person suffered the mistreatment of the German, but that was all that he had talked about in the interview. He had not gone through the pain of seeing his family killed, and his family even had jobs during that time, granted by a German. He himself had a job and worked for the Germans and was able to provide for his family, all the while able to continue thriving in the profession he had worked for. I learned that not all Holocaust survivors were put through the terrors we learn about.

World War 2 Poem

I feel the loneliness after death,

Death that need not have been—

I hear the screech of brakes,

And see the muddy shoes removed,

Lying beside the still form,

The too-quick boy,

Covered with hempen bags,

Flies gathering.

It makes the heart sick,

As an old moon upsets the morning sky;

Or stills the heart

As does the shriek of wind through chimneys,

Through old cellars,

Through attics,

Through windows

Rattling through insecure windows.

I feel the loneliness after death,

Death that need not have been—

I hear the muffled cry of millions,

The battle shriek in martial music;

I hear the scream of bombs

And see the small feet flying.

The overall mood that the reader feels from this poem is something along the lines of eerie sadness. The lonesome tone is expressed by the author’s depressing use of words, such as “loneliness after death”, “old moon”, “shriek of wind”, “insecure windows”, etc. Instead of only visualizing it for the reader, the reader can actually feel things from those descriptive words.

The structure of the poem seems to switch between having 7~10 syllables and 3~4 syllables in different lines. It expresses both the grace and deep ness of death and also how simply tormenting death can be. The lines with 7~10 syllables are used to describe things in a lengthy manner, while the ones with 3~4 lines are short and straight to the point. The switching of different syllables serve as a dramatic rhythm for the poem.

The poem uses the figurative language of personification to portray how connected the entire event it is to humans and the characteristics of humanity, making it seem more relatable and darker. With World War II currently being the most terrifying event of the era, the techniques of personification truly captures the essence of the effects of the war with human characteristics. For example, the “scream of bombs” gives an alarming tone, for screams are something that humans are frightened by the most.

Nationalism

From history, we can learn that nationalism can serve as both a powerful, destructive tool, and also as a beacon of hope and a feeling of belonging for nationalistic people. It is a tool used for uniting people together, and whether the unity is used for creating or destroying solely relies on the intentions of the initiator of those nationalistic causes. Most of the time in history, nationalism is seen as good when the nationalistic side wins. When the nationalistic side loses, it is seen as the greatest evil. For example, the American revolutionary war was seen as inspiring and heroic, yet the rise of Nazi Germany was seen as absolute evil. This was because the victors are the ones to write history, therefore they will emphasize on the good deeds done by their side more than the crimes they committed. Nazi Germany had affected so many countries around the world, causing vulnerability in the German reputation. The cruel actions the Nazi took were no doubt horrifying, yet one can’t help but feel that it has at least some level of exaggeration associated with it. However, my view is weak, for I do not know enough of Nazi Germany enough to condemn it, nor does the rest of most of the world. All that we are fed are that Nazi Germany was evil, corrupt, and inhumane. If we tried to look into it further, we might see past those terrors, and realize that Nazi Germany was never as evil as we are told. We might come to the revelation that many societies in history had done the same, or worse, yet it was not so severely spoken of only because it hadn’t been as well-known as the Nazis.
In my own opinion, I think that the pure form of nationalistic thinking itself is good for it brings people together. However, once politics and immoral human thoughts mix in with it, it becomes wrong. The combined power of a great number of people can lead to either the best change or the worst carnage.

Ideal Perspective

There are many interpretations and views of religious fundamentalism, and there is no doubt an existence of evil in some, if not most. Religious fundamentalism, according to Oishimaya Sen Nag, is “the belief of an individual or a group of individuals in the absolute authority of a sacred religious text or teachings of a particular religious leader, prophet, and/or God” (Sen Nag 1). It may cause people to do things that may be seen as radical, since many religious scriptures are from much older times and could be influenced by the bias of the writers. Racism, homophobia, sexism, and other immoralities were much more prominent compared to that of the current era, therefore such writings could mislead faithful followers down a dark and destructive path. It twists the perspective of its followers, turning the well-intentioned believer into a fool.

What we should encourage as the ideal perspective of the world is to approach the world with an open mind. When one is confronted by a new idea or view, the best solution is to be understanding. Be positively curious, and listen to what the other side has to say. Find the good in the evil, and the evil in the good, for nothing is without either two. No idea is all noble and no idea is fully evil. Religious fundamentalism composes of strictly following the “rules” of one’s religion, therefore wiping out all open-mindedness of a person. Their view will narrow and will be able to live their life only on one side, which is their own. They will never be able to cross the bridges of ideologies. Therefore, be approachable for all new things.