Monthly Archives: February 2011

Give a Little to Get a Little

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Not a difficult concept, but one that some people find difficult to grapple with. While some people might seek out the respect of others, they are either unwilling or unable to show this gesture in return.

Sitting in class a few weeks ago, I was astounded to find a group of individuals justify the actions of a particular character depicted in a film clip although there was a lack of respect shown by both parties involved in the interaction. Since my classmates shared similar political views with the person they empathized with, the actions were justified as a means of defense. However, there was no regards taken to the respect of either person and both people were to blame in this blatant demonstration of the sad, sad, state of the society we live in.

Putting all personal feelings aside, we must realize that regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, and age, everyone deserves respect. While it’s hard to put aside nasty biases that many people hold, it’s the only way that we’re going to reach any sort of progression. Take the current political climate in the United States, for example. Due to the heavy partisanship going on at all levels of government, we are in a deadlock of really fulfilling the needs of the constituents that the representatives are elected to advocate for. Instead being persuaded by lobbyists and making a career out of public service, the politicians have no respect for the people they have pledged to fight for – showing that disrespect is not just limited to a few close-minded individuals within the classroom.

Regardless of environment, this disregard toward other human beings is prevalent everywhere. Whether it be such a simple act as littering, being cut in line, or showing general intolerance to the viewpoints of others, it’s impossible to avoid the impudence of some of the people we are forced to deal with.

It only seems hypocritical that some of the people we look upon as role models and leaders are some of the biggest offenders in the realm of disrespectful actions. While there are some people you can always rely on to be rude, it seems that even educated, otherwise compassionate audiences are becoming increasingly more obvious in their unabashed ways of remaining close-minded in a time when it is important to remain open and accepting of different political and social perspectives.

Obviously, the easiest thing is to is remain oblivious to the thoughts and opinions of others, continuing to stomp on toes and demand respect from those we openly disagree with in a malicious manner. However, this is clearly not working. We need to see that in most cases, there is more than one person to blame, however unfavorable the situation might be or the biases we might bring to the situation.

It’s being in a classroom where I expected people to be more openminded and tolerant to different issues which made me realize what a huge issue disrespect is. Usually we associate the act of stubborn intolerance with older people, as frequently heard in stories about grandparents who have voted party lines for their whole lives. It’s sad to think that potentially the younger generation growing up now might be doing the same thing that they look down so heavily upon in their parents and grandparents.

Before it’s too late, we need to take control of the situation. Identifying the problem within ourselves is the most critical step and one we must proceed in doing before we become so overly biased that our own personal lives become ensconced in a political deadlock. There might be individuals who are able to remain openminded, showing a general sense respect toward humankind and those are the people we should look to as role models. The majority of us could learn a thing or two from such people.


Be Kind

Since elementary school, we’ve always heard about the importance of being kind to our peers and how random acts of kindness can not only brighten the days of those we help but also the lives of those who engage in such events. As we go about our daily activities, there are an ample amount of opportunities to put a smile on someone’s face, whether it might be paying for the person behind you in the drive thru or helping an elderly person carry groceries to their vehicle.

This week, I found myself helping a few people extracting their cars from the arctic tundra that is the Hilltop parking lot. While the announcement of snow removal might not make everyone sweat, those whose cars are encrusted in layers of snow and ice might feel anxious about having to move their vehicle to a different location. Observing a few individuals struggling to move their cars, my friend and I took the initiative to help those in need. Although I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about braving the sub-zero temperatures wielding my trusty shovel, the satisfaction I received once I helped these people was irreplaceable.

Too often, we are caught up in the stressors of our everyday lives and do not take the time to be kind to others. It’s easy to see someone struggling and to just walk past them, forgetting about what others might be dealing with and instead selfishly focusing all of our attention inwardly to our own needs. While going out of our way to do something nice might not exactly fit into our busy schedules, I strongly believe that good things do pay off. Even though I had a heaping amount of homework to complete and numerous other errands to accomplish, I felt productive and helpful by helping people do something they would have otherwise been unable to do in a timely fashion without my help.

This experience made me realize that altruism is a practice that we should all strive to practice more. The benefits of random acts of kindness are incredible and unlimited, a sort of win-win situation for everyone involved. There are never any drawbacks to being nice and in a society plagued by negativity, it would be nice if we all made a conscious effort to go out of our way to be nice and show compassion for humanity.

No longer a simple ideology, you hear stories about successful acts of kindness. Most notably, a recent movie called Pay It Forward, in which a young boy who experienced a random act of kindness was inspired to pass kindness around the world, believing that as more people shared the experience, they would continue to create a web of kindness. One of my favorite stories concerning kindness was how 40 cars in a drive thru continued to pay for the person behind them without breaking the chain, which just goes to show that there is a lot of good in the world.

What we must do is find the motivation to do such things. By doing something nice for someone, you might be making a difficult time for someone more bearable. Although it’s impossible to know and comprehend what is going on in the lives of everyone we meet on the street, there is nothing that could take away from the good feelings one receives from a random act of kindness.

Let’s make our parents and elementary school teachers proud and represent our community well. Absolutely no one can argue that being kind is a bad thing, and with more of an effort being made to be kind, I think we can all make a positive difference in the lives of others. Instead of getting caught up in the negativity that we are bombarded with on a daily basis from the media, let’s instead create our own initiative and be positive to others. What’s the worst that is going to happen?

Appreciate Your Siblings

As anyone with a sibling knows, it’s not always easy to maintain a relationship with your brother or sister, often times caving into sibling rivalry and violently lashing out on them when anger get’s the best of us. Taking our siblings for granted and acknowledging their existence as purely a part of life is something that can catch up with us, and with no designated day for sibling appreciation, little thought goes into how much we genuinely care for those who share the same DNA as us.

Listening to people complain about their siblings is easily one of my biggest pet peeves. Obviously, living with anyone requires patience and disputes are inevitable, and there should be no set standard for sibling relationships. While your sister might borrow your favorite top without asking or your brother make inappropriate comments whilst in the presence of your friends, these are easily forgivable things that instead some people choose to harp on, never forgetting the many riffs that plagued their childhood.

From a personal perspective, my sister and I have not always got along. Seven years my junior, my sister was at the age of playing with dolls when I was just hitting the peak of teenage rebellion. For years, there was little connection between us and things were rocky at best, as we battled for the seemingly limited attention of our parents. As if out of the blue one day, maturity finally settled in and we were both able to overcome our differences. Putting aside our completely opposite personalities, we came to the consensus that we will always have each other, even after the death of our parents and other close relatives. While this might be a bit of a morbid thought, there is truth behind this belief. If you don’t reach out to foster a relationship with your sibling, the death of your parents will leave you with no ties to your family which is a tragedy in itself.

Listening to people publicly disown their own siblings is sad for me to hear. It’s impossible to approve of every decision that people make, but we should be willing to show acceptance and tolerance toward our own kin. For those without a sibling, I sympathize as well. As an only child for the first seven years of my life, I longed for a sibling and would constantly nag my parents to give me what I was looking for. Lacking a peer that I could seek companionship from, I couldn’t imagine a childhood without a sibling bond.

However much our sibling might disappoint us or sometimes make us ashamed to carry our family name, it’s important to remember the long-term effects of a healthy relationship with our siblings. Unless a serious breach of trust has occurred, I see no reason why anyone should hold any sort of grudge against anyone whom they have shared a life with. I am easily able to call my sister my best friend and not just because of a similarity of life experiences; it’s also because I’ve made the decision to open my life up to her, sharing personal stories which have created a life-long bond.

Although the perfect sibling relationship might seem to be out of reach, it’s something that can be achieved with a bit of emotional work. While some people might be facing  more of a challenge when it comes to dealing with their sibling, I think it’s important to realize that there is potentially nobody who will know you any better. I’m thankful that I have a close relationship with my sister, because no matter how the cards fall in my life, I will always have someone who will be willing to listen and support my decisions. If anything, having a friendly relationship with your sibling will make weddings, funerals and other family functions less awkward for both you and those in attendance!

Fundamentals of Parking 101

Of all of the activities one can engage in during late January, looking for a parking spot on the UMaine campus is probably not on the top of anyone’s list. For years, people have been grumbling about the parking situation, constantly surveying students about their overall discontent concerning parking. Nothing has been done and parking still remains an issue, especially when large snow piles consume a large portion of precious pavement.

While it might behoove of the university to require every student to enroll in a instructional course on the fundamentals of parking a car, it seems that such content should have been covered in drivers ed. However, looking at the MCA lot on any given day might prove otherwise. It never ceases to amaze me the ability some people have to park their compact car in two spaces, while minivans squeeze into the most microscopic spots. Understandably, parking can be a challenge without the visual guidance of the handy painted white lines, but by no means does it allow for the parking disaster that is currently underway. Not just limited to the massive MCA and Belgrade parking lots, you’ll find the same issue everywhere you go, and quite frankly, it’s incredibly frustrating.

As we all dream about an unrealistic parking garage which never seems to materialize despite being mentioned repeatedly, we instead need to search for a cost effective alternative which will make use of the few parking spots available.

Obviously, we all face the same miserable condition as we defeatedly park our cars a considerable distance away from our destination. Next time, before we rush to snag the ever-elusive parking spot, take the time to make the best usage of the area. Think of it as reducing your parking lot footprint, if you will. Not only will other people have more available parking options, but the cycle will continue to benefit everyone.

No amount of obnoxious griping will change the situation unless we stand up and do something about it. By making a conscious effort to confine your Prius in the allotted one space, you might provide a few more spots and make some new friends during the process. I think I speak for a majority of students when I say that we should all use our thinking caps when parking our cars. Instead of leaving five feet on either side of your vehicle, pretend that the lines are still visible and park without leaving an ample amount of space to amble about your car.

This doesn’t give anyone the right to be rude though. A few years ago, I was left with a less then pleasant note on my car after parking in a snowy lot. Squeezing my tiny Volkswagen into a spot that few other vehicles could fit into, I was appalled to later find a note affixed to my windshield, kindly advising me to “learn to park a**hole.” Although appearing to be unjustified, I give this individual credit for parking his truck on a snowbank next to my car. Clearly frustrated with the parking situation, it is still inappropriate to blame one specific person for what is a huge scale issue. While it might be easy to point the finger at the small car taking up more room than is necessary, a lot of factors come into play. Combined with the copious amounts of snow, lack of visible lines, and bitter cold, the parking problem is exacerbated to make everyone grouchy about the situation.

If all else fails, at least we have spring to look forward to where parking spots seem to peep out just as the new blooms come out of the ground. I’m certainly looking forward to the day when my search for a parking spot takes less than ten minutes.