Friday, October 31, 2014

A Live To Work Nation

       Why is it that the U.S is such a developed country, but can’t allow for paid maternity leave? This practice is most definitely speaking to our American values: we’re a “live to work” society. 

       After having a class discussion about American values and how we reward productivity over all else, I saw a Buzzfeed video which caught my eye: statistics about maternity leave here in the U.S versus in other countries. The part I raised my eyebrows at was this graph.

 Even France, the developed country that (next to the U.S) has the lowest amount of paid paternity leave, still gives off 16 whole weeks. Estonia gives over 2 years. I found this chart incredible. The U.S is at the bottom, not allowing any paid leave whatsoever, while a mother in Estonia can stay at home with her child until he is a toddler before going back to work.

        What does this say about America if we aren’t giving any slack to women in the workplace who choose to have children? I’d argue it’s pushing them out of them out of the workforce. I know so many women, my own mother; for example, who decided to quit their jobs so they could raise children. I also know women who choose not to have children because it could mess up their careers. I’m not saying either of those are bad decisions, but I am saying these other countries so clearly sympathize with women needing those first few months to focus on their child while still earning money. The U.S forces them to make a choice: be a mother or a working woman.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Would You Rather Spend Your Money on Experiences or Tangible Things?

       This week in class, we touched on a topic I find so thought-provoking: how Americans are always so focused on money and tangible items. I would definitely agree that most Americans are like this, but I do not think it’s an effective way of spending money to enrich a person’s life.

       I read an article this week that showed how buying “experiences” instead of buying “things” will actual benefit your overall happiness. What this basically means is, people gain more happiness from having experiences (like a trip to Greece) than they would gain from buying, say, the newest iPhone.

       Waiting for that trip to happen, planning the itinerary for that trip is said to bring a person so much more excitement since it’s an experience you are waiting to have.
       After awhile, our tangible possessions we have bought “become background.” We stop appreciating them because they are just there, part of our everyday scenery. When we create experiences for ourselves, we’re stepping outside that scenery we are so accustomed to: talking to different people, eating different foods, etc. "Even a bad experience becomes a good story." When we go on a trip and have an embarrassing or funny experience, it becomes a great story to tell. When we get frustrated or something goes wrong with the technology in our lives or our belongings, it doesn’t amuse anyone and no one really wants to retell that story.

Learning to reflect on these bad experiences we’ve had on trips is a skill we develop. It’s far enough away and has enough nostalgia tied with it that we can find some sort of good from it no matter what. This is the opposite with material possessions, they’re too close for us to still see them as a satisfying purchase when something goes wrong. Maybe it’s time to stop investing so much in material items, and go seek out some real experiences, almost buying yourself some stories to tell.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sayreville High School: Should They Play The Next Season?

       I'm sure a lot of you have been hearing about the Sayreville High School football sexual assault situation. As a form of "hazing" the young players, members of the team sexually assaulted their fellow teammates. A 14 year old boy on the team claims the upperclassmen have been participating in this ritual for quite some time. Sayreville High School's superintendent is considering not allowing the team to play next season. Some parents of players are distraught about this since many of their children's futures rely on being able to play football after high school. In my opinion, the whole team, and town, needs a break from football.
       With everything going on in the NFL with domestic violence and abuse, we are now seeing that it's not just an NFL issue. This incident speaks volumes about the whole sport of football. The lines are too blurry for these young players: what is okay to do on the field versus off the field? These players are being taught to be aggressive when they're playing. It's drilled into their heads that they must overpower their opponent and "win" all the time. This is a terrible a message to be sending.
       Football, in this town in New Jersey, means everything. One coach said that football, in their town, is almost a "religion." I found this word choice to be interesting, that someone would go as far as to say this game is similar to spirituality. I know people obsess over football and for many people, it is an enormous part of their lives. It's America's sport. It would be un-American not to like football. But the players of this violent sport need to set a good example. They need to be demonstrating that violence off the field is not acceptable. And I think they're doing the exact opposite.
       Players know what they're getting themselves into when they sign up for a sport like football; it's violent. But if they do choose to partake in it, I think they have the right to feel safe once they come off the field. The victims of this crime are traumatized. What's worse is that one of the victims of assault (14 years old) said he thought it was just " room antics." The fact that this boy was confused about whether being overpowered by a teammate was just standard shows that this sport is really messing with people's sense of what is ok and not ok.
       I think this town needs to set a good example by not allowing the team to play the next season. It will force them to take a step back and assess the situation so that it does not happen again.