Hello PAX Readers,
Welcome to the second edition of PAX. I hope you're able to enjoy this issue in the calmness of post-exams as you get ready to enjoy the summer. I'm so happy about this issue because it comes at a time when we all need to remember how important it is to support each other. Spring Hill is a small comunity, but it's a strong one too and recent events have solidified that for me. The initial reaction to the Boston Bombings was devastation and panic, but quickly we all began to realize that not only were there good people left, but there are a lot more compassionate and kind people then there are terrorists and that is comforting. It was amazing to witness on the news how small gestures like a hug or a blanket can make a huge impact on people who are suffering or scared. Then, soon after the Boston tragedy, a student at Spring Hill received the terrible news that her older sister had been hit by a car and was seriously injured in the accident. Support for the student and her family has been tremendous, from donations to prayers to wearing heels in solidarity, from people in the Spring Hill community and around the world. There is always some way for us to help each other in the midst of crisis and chaos. I think Spring Hill students will always choose to be an outlet of support in the lives of others and that's a pretty sweet legacy to leave behind.
Finally, keep in mind what Patton Oswalt said after the Boston bombings, "So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.'"
Thank you to Dr. Jamie Franco Zamudio and Professor Wanda Sullivan for their help in creating this issue.
Aislinn Shevlin, editor
To me, compassion is the realization that something is wrong with someone else, or the realization of a need that someone else has, and a want to help that person. During my participation in the day of compassion, I worked to act in this way, a compassionate way, with everyone I came in contact with. The compassionate acts began in the morning while I was getting coffee in Java City. The person in front of me in line was short on badger bucks after they ordered their coffee, so I pitched in and bought their coffee for them. Later that day, a friend asked me if I would wait and have lunch with them after their class so they wouldn’t have to eat alone. Instead of eating lunch when I got out of class, I opted to have a late lunch with her so that she would have company and not have to eat alone. At work that day, one of the secretaries called in sick, leaving the other secretary to have to finish all of the commencement mail outs by the end of the day on her own. I decided to stay late at work that day to help the secretary finish all the packets, so that they would be mailed out by the deadline. When a service group came around to my dorm “dorm storming” I gave them a donation to help their cause.
Yes, I lied. You caught me.
I lied to you when I asked you for money on the street today.
I lied when I told you I had to pay eight dollars to stay at the homeless shelter.
And yes, I lied when I said that I came to this city a month ago.
And yes, I lied when I told you that I have a steady job during the day.
But you know what I’ve never lied about?
Throughout the wars in the Balkans, there was a lot of movement. Refugees were brought out of their city and into different countries. Families moved out of the chaos of the war and into safe places. Teens and young men left their country to avoid being demanded in the military. Although many people moved from their houses to safer land, not everyone returned. The population is dwindling in the Balkans, and not only from the war, but also from the aftermath of the war. Today, many young professionals seek their jobs elsewhere. They believe that bigger and better jobs are out there for them. Many people have also seemed to lose hope, and believe their country is not progressing fast enough. People are frustrated with their country and have either moved or are thinking of moving because of this frustration. There seems to be a general loss of hope in the country, and with loss of hope comes no real reason to stay in the former Yugoslavia.
When the war first began, there were many young people who left their countries because they were thinking about their careers. Over 500,000 young professionals left Serbia during the war in order to escape from being in the army (1). They did not want to have to serve in the war, but rather wanted to finish their own studies, or continue with their career. These young professionals fled to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa if they were trying to seek a permanent home. They also stayed in Europe, and moved to other European countries. Many young professionals fled to Germany if they were looking for a temporary job (3). In 1994, Brian Casey was the current Canadian consul in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. At this time, he said that he received between one to two hundred applications for emigration every day, and had granted around 6,000 permanent visas that year (3). This was the amount of people who were just trying to leave to get to Canada. This happened in many other countries as well. Casey stated in the New York Times, “We’re getting applications from well-educated, highly qualified people” (3). Countries naturally have problems with keeping citizens, but usually this problem is with less educated people who try and make a better life for themselves elsewhere. There becomes a problem when the college educated citizens look elsewhere to find a job. It creates a huge problem with the economy of that country. There are less professionals to do the jobs that should be done by an highly educated person. What happens to a country that cannot keep the doctors, lawyers, bankers, and the businessmen? It throws off the balance. During the war, people began to realize that their lives would be safer and they have better opportunities in other countries so they left and never came back.
Compassion is something that can be defined in many ways, and may differ depending on the person or the environment that they are in. If someone is brought up in a compassionate home and is constantly shown love and care, then they might be more likely to show compassion as they grow older. I was lucky enough to have very compassionate parents who taught me how to care and be compassionate to everyone no matter what.
Exercising compassion is a challenge that I did not realize was so hard to do. There are many parts of my day that I had to be very cautious of as I tried to complete this task. I’m a pretty good morning person, and I usually wake up in a good mood. That wasn’t an issue at all. It wasn’t hard for me to be nice to my roommates, help people with their problems, or even do things that I did not want to do. No. The problems arose in the smallest of things that I would not have imagined.
In John Tirman’s book, The Deaths of Others, he discusses what he deems to be a disturbing trait of American citizens. He goes to great lengths to show a historical context, many examples relevant to today’s political climate, and some of the deeply-rooted reasons for this discussed trait. The problem that Tirman brings to readers through his book is the problem of a cold indifference that dominates the American society in response to the atrocious acts that have taken place in American wars and military interventions. Tirman offers readers the thesis that the general indifference to the atrocities of war is a distinctly American characteristic that has roots in the country’s history and origins. He provides a basis, or argument, for this thesis by providing readers with a history of American atrocities, ways that American indifference has been measured, and finally, reasons for indifference of the American public.
Negative political advertising is nothing new to the 21st century; however, when gender becomes a factor, negative advertising can affect a candidate’s chance of being elected. All of America is aware of negative ads during times of intense campaigning; yet, as a nation, is anyone aware of its bias categorization of gender? For instance, political campaigning can be more difficult for female politicians due to the bad reputation given to women within positions of power. The symbol of power, money and control is stereotypically associated with a dominant male figure, leaving little room for imperfections within a female’s political campaign. Any shortcoming, such as negative ads that paint a politician in a skewed manner, hit women much harder than men, according to the media as well as the research.
It’s no secret that in the past fifty years, the women’s movement has made enormous strides. Not only are women more prominent in number and status in the professional world, they outnumber boys in most colleges and universities across the country, so much so that some admissions offices work conscientiously to appeal to the male sex. This would have seemed absurd in the 1950s when males were perceived as bread winners and the traditional life trajectory of a female focused on family and not career and education.
No longer are women dependent on men in order to live a prosperous life. Another revolutionary change is the fact that women no longer require a male sexual partner in order to have kids. Modern women can choose the adoption route or with new technologies and advancements, they can have a child essentially on their own. These advancements may have been intended especially for homosexual women or women who can’t naturally conceive, but professional heterosexual women without husbands now have the option of fulfilling that gender role when they want and on their own terms. This new crop of highly educated women is not only changing traditional perceptions of the feminine sex, they are transforming the economic and social spheres of gender and culture.
Contrary to the connotation of the word “trafficking,” human trafficking does not necessarily denote the movement of humans. The United Nations defines the term as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation” (United Nations). The U.N. further states that trafficking in persons has three fundamental elements: the act (what is done), the means (how it is done), and the purpose (why it is done). In order to fall under the U.N. terminology, all three elements must be present at some point in the case.
The world’s most comprehensive resource of anti-trafficking effort by governments is the United States’ Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Published annually since 2001, its purposes are to “free victims, prevent trafficking, and bring traffickers to justice.” According to the U.S. Department of State, it is the country’s “principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.” In addition to being used as a foreign engagement tool for the U.S., the report is also used by international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and foreign governments to determine where the problem is most concentrated and where resources are most needed.
In the TIP Report, the Department of State categorizes each country into one of three tiers based on their government’s efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for trafficking in persons” found in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
I dedicated Monday (April 8th) as being my Day of Compassion. I thought it would be an excellent day to be compassionate toward others since it ironically fell on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In my opinion, compassion is noticing the struggles of another person and doing something to help that person. While this would appear to be simple and logical, I believe that our society is lacking compassion these days. Overall, I would consider myself to be a compassionate person. I think that I am observant and empathetic toward the needs of others.
Every week, I volunteer at the Regional School for the Deaf and Blind as a part of my scholarship requirements with the Foley Center. I have been working with children who are visually impaired for four years now. The children I work with range in grade level (1st-4th), and their needs vary. Most of the children in my class are able to see with the help of glasses, although one of my students is nearly blind. Every Monday, I help students with reading, math, playing games, and anything else the teacher needs my help with.
Women in positions of leadership is a topic being discussed more and more as women continue to take on higher positions or roles throughout our society. Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, Marissa Mayer now Yahoo’s CEO, Oprah Winfrey head of Harpo Studios are several of the powerful elite female leaders of our time. The issue still at hand is that for women the climb to leadership positions that would or could be occupied by a male are still controversial. In both the Fortune 5oo and Fortune 1000 list of companies women only hold 4.2 percent of the CEO positions on both list. Out of 1.4 million women serving in the military there are only two female four star generals. Ann E. Dunwoody was nominated in 2008 and Janet Wolfenbarger was nominated in 2012 to replaced Dunwoody when she stepped down.
The Balkans will forever hold a spot in my heart; as cliché as it sounds, the region that just a few short weeks ago I knew absolutely nothing about has made a lasting impact on my life. The people we met and the conflicts we faced forced my mind to venture to places it rarely does. How could a region laced with memories of such intense struggles be home to such kind, gracious individuals? How could these individuals live in harmony, for lack of a better word, with people associated with organizations accused of murdering their wives, children, brothers, or sisters? And how could the institution in which I put my faith be associated with some of the most wretched war crimes? In past years, the Catholic Church has found itself facing accusations regarding sex abuse scandals and money laundering, but in the 1990’s, clergymen were involved in events associated with the ethnic cleansing of the Balkans. Of course, for every terrible accusation the Church faces, there is a contradictory tale of valor accompanied by sincere compassion. So, where does this leave me on my personal journey?
The history surrounding the conflict within the Balkans is entirely too rich to cover in a mere ten pages. Multiple volumes could be filled with information pertaining to the Balkan wars of the 1990’s. I think it is important to provide a brief history of the conflict, namely the religious divisions, which serve as the motivation for the monstrosities committed by the Catholic Church throughout the Balkans. In his lecture, Dr. Roberto Belloni names two main approaches to the failure of Yugoslavia: ancient hatreds, which led to unavoidable conflict, and conflict created by human agents (Belloni).
The inhabitants of the region formerly called Yugoslavia face language and religious barriers, but no real racial barrier exist. Religion serves as the primary cause for division, and the conflict surrounding religion dates back to 1054. At first, the entire region shared the same Christian beliefs. In 1054, however, Christianity split; Orthodox Christians, largely Serbs, inhabited the East while Roman Catholics, largely Croats, inhabited the West. Muslims slowly entered the religious scene in the Balkans, as the third party, when the Christian and Ottoman empires clashed. In 1389 at the Battle of Kosovo Poljie, the Ottoman Empire defeated the Christians; thus, Muslims dominated the region. The mass conversion to Islam took place in 1463 when the Turkish conquered Bosnia (Belloni).
When I think of compassion, I think of helping people and showing care to those who are in need. The actual definition of compassion is the empathy of people who are suffering and it is a major factor in how we define love. I would describe myself as a compassionate guy, but I wanted to try new tactics in my normal behavior to show compassion. One of the ideas that I focused on was talking to people that I observed through the year who are really quiet and sit alone. I also attempted to spot people who seemed down and asked if they were okay and needed to talk. The simplest act I tried was doing favors in the cafeteria such as asking if anyone wants more to drink, if they wanted cookies, or if I could take their plates up. There is a student in my building who is always alone and I never see him really talk to anyone. He also sits in the cafeteria alone everyday so I felt bad for him. So on my day of compassion I decided to attempt a conversation with him. His reaction was a little awkward to me because I said, hi to him and he just walked right past me and did not say a word. Then I attempted again and asked if he knew what time the crawfish boil was at and he turned around and actually responded. I tried to engage in more conversation, but he didn’t really seem very social so he turned around and I said, “I’ll see you later bro.”