Trophy? Medal? Monument?

 

All good actions deserve a reward, right? Yes and no…

Take for example, studying hard for a test. It is my assumption that anyone who studies intensely for an exam expects a rewarding score. In this case the person doing the studying is acting in accordance to a result that he or she expects to be desirable. However, take service for an example. Whether that means holding a door for a teacher, working at a soup kitchen, or travelling to a third world country to administer aid, we must look at the intention of the action in order to fully understand the action.

Are you performing the service so you can pad your resume, or do you have a desire to make a positive difference in a community?

This is a question that Lynsey Addario and almost all people struggle with. In part three of her novel It’s What I Do, she says that she is “conflicted about making money from images of people who were so desperate” (146). She is concerned not about her actions but about the intent of her actions. This is something that I struggle with myself; moreover, creating new, creative service initiatives in my high school was valued very highly, and obviously, looked great when applying to colleges.

I had to learn to ask myself why I was doing what I was doing, and I have used this method ever since. This simple question helped me make key discoveries in my life. Moreover, I found that I was only playing Varsity baseball because I wanted to say I was a “Varsity athlete” and so I would be looked upon positively by my father and my friends; I did not actually love playing the sport anymore. In addition, I was able to accept that I loved the feeling that community/ Christian service provided me.

This has allowed me to understand that actions can still be rewarding even without recognition, because if you’re doing something you love to do, the simple act is enough to satiate your desires; the monetary or material reward is just a bonus.

 

 

Fear… How can you look past it?

On September 11, 2001, we all know what happened. A nation’s roots were shaking at its core, and its people needed hope, love, and attention to revive from the crash of darkness. As President, George W. Bush took it upon himself to strengthen the hearts of those in mourning. When he first gave his speech to congress on September 20, 2001, he mandated a need to end terror throughout the world, especially in the Middle East. At the time, Bush asserted that the feelings of Americans must not be directed at the entire Islamic population in the world, but instead at Islamic extremists.

At its core, Bush’s speech addressed the matter at hand; he brought the nation together and established a goal to eradicate terrorism across the world. He set a divide; The United States of America verses Islamic Terrorism; however, he failed to address a question that we have yet to answer in truth: how can one identify a terrorist?

I found these two pictures below with two simple google searches. The first, “Islamic terrorist,” and the second, “Islamic Woman.”

In looking at both, can you see a major difference in appearance?

The rhetoric in Bush’s speech was undoubtedly just; however, its execution is where controversies arise. Bush asserted the danger of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the like, and he stated that they were at odds with the true values of Islam, but how do we decipher between extremists and Muslims at a basic level—the way they look and dress? Certain sights cause fear, something that is uniform across races, religions, and communities.

So, we must ask where do we see Muslims dressed in their religious attire? Walking out of a mosque, yes. Sitting in a restaurant with their families, yes. On a TV screen with a RPG in their hands, yes. The latter is what causes the danger. The way see Muslims on television has a major impact on the way view Middle-Eastern or Islamic looking people in daily life. According to a Kuwaiti study, “Western media organizations must see normal Muslims in everyday life, as professionals, educators, parents, community leaders and participants… TV news and documentaries have the strongest influence on people’s views of Islam.”[1]

Mainstream media presents a portrait of Islamic people that engrains itself into the minds of Americans. Even if media does not actively strive to cause division between middle-eastern people and white America, perpetuation of negative pictures, stories, and events involving Islamic people leads to dangerous assumptions about the Islamic faith and Middle-Eastern culture. These assumptions and associations have led to a fear, not just what some would call Islamophobia, but genuine fear.  Fear is generally looked at as “a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.” [2] But not all fear is experienced face-to-face by all people, instead it is learned and developed by authority figures. Look at children as an example. At an early age, they are indoctrinated by their parents not to trust strangers: “Don’t open the door to strangers,” “Don’t get in the car with a stranger,” etc. But over time, kids are able to understand that some strangers are “good” and others are “bad,” and they make value judgements based on their parent’s approval.

Mainstream media is that authority figure that siphons how we are able to view a sect of people. “When the perpetrator is Muslim, you can expect that attack to receive about four and a half times more media coverage than if the perpetrator was not Muslim,” disturbing implications for the way Americans perceive Muslims.”[3]

AUDIENCE: Millenials living in a post 9/11 world, especially New Yorkers.

After workshop: Incorporate the speech more throughout the article/ use “I”– growing up in New York– riding the subway everyday…

 

[1] “Media has anti-Muslim bias, claims report,” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/nov/14/pressandpublishing.raceintheuk.

[2] “Fear,” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/fear.

[3] Boyle, Tara, “When is it ‘terrorism’? How the Media Cover Attacks by Muslim Perpetrators,” NPR, http://www.npr.org/2017/06/19/532963059/when-is-it-terrorism-how-the-media-covers-attacks-by-muslim-perpetrators.

A cop lover, a cop hater: All Lives Matter

Henry Deteskey

Civic Artifact Speech Outline

English 137

(It helps me more to write it out first then go from there. I will not be using any index cards during my speech.)

Setting the Scene/ Attention Getter:

I’m sure many, if not all of you, have heard or saw scenarios as shown above. The fat, slobby cop hanging-out eating his donut and sipping on his coffee. It’s hysterical because I know cops that fit the bill to a tee! This is not my artifact, but I just want to clear the air of all of those negative, silly depictions of police officers so that you can get the most out of my talk. Along with those funny depictions of cops, I ask that for this presentation you clear your negative thoughts about police officers from your mind, just for the time being.

Introduction:

In 2014, Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island, New York, and Michael Brown, a black man from Ferguson, Missouri, were murdered by police officers. These two men most definitely were not the only two black men killed by police officers in that year, but for the purpose of my talk, I will primarily use them as my examples. The deaths of these two men brought controversy, strife, sadness, and pain to most of America, but most importantly, the African American Community. In response, a movement titled “Black Lives Matter” roared throughout the country. Like I said before, this movement did not simply start because of the death of two black men. This movement was unleashed after hundreds of years of inequality, whether we think in terms of slavery, Jim Crowe, mass incarceration, or police brutality. Beliefs, aggression, and feelings were building up.

Now I will get into my artifact…

Body

So, this flag was produced around the time Black Lives Matter was growing in popularity, and naturally, people believed Blue Lives Matter was a countermovement in relation to BLM. In fact, this flag was created after the deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn, New York in December of 2014, and its popularity has been growing ever since. According to the New York Times, the killer “was angered about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.” These were not the only murders of police officers in this country, just like Michael Brown and Eric Garner were not the only black men murdered. But I’m using them as examples. Just to give you an idea of the scale, “Shooting deaths of law-enforcement have spiked 78 percent in the first half of this year, including a 300 percent increase in ambush-style killings,” according to a Washington Times article in 2016.

With everything going on, the police were scared. No one wanted to be a cop because it seemed that almost everyone hated the police force. Even active cops were discouraging their sons to find a career outside of law enforcement. The flag was erected to bring solidarity amongst police officers across the country. At its basic sense, the flag is a positive object; one that allows people to show pride in the men in blue. I know when I think about the police force I do not think about negative things. I mean I am a son of a cop, so I’m a little bias but I think about all of the good things my dad did in his career. I always think about this one story… It was a very early morning, after a night shift in the lower east side of Manhattan. My dad was getting in his car, sleep deprived, ready to see his kids get ready for school. On the way home, he saw two legs hanging out of the front door of a taxi cab, and then witnessed two men hovering over the body. As my dad approached, he saw the men brutally beating the cabby, and he immediately pulled his gun and screamed, “Police, don’t move!” He was able to arrest the one man, as the other fled (he was eventually caught by back-up). But what stands out most to me from this story is what the taxi driver said in court about my father.  He said, “It was like he was an angel sent from God.”

 

But, I’m not naïve. The flag can be seen just as much as a negative symbol as a positive one. Some police officers developed a hatred for the Black Lives Matter activists. And to be frank, there are racist, incompetent, and unqualified police officers that use this flag as a means to worship their faulty beliefs. There are also police officers that utilize this flag to combat supporters of the black lives matter movement. Here’s the thing that police officers must remember: The Black Lives Matter Movement is not an organization with leaders that instruct its followers to commit crimes. It is a social movement that is alive in the hearts of many. Think about 9/11 for a second. Yes, the people who crashed into the World Trade Center were Islamic, but no, they were not a representation of all Islamic people. Similarly, the murderer of these officers discussed before cannot be seen as a representative of all BLM supporters, just as an extremist.

Conclusion:

Sure, I am a son of a high ranking, decorated police officer, and I guess you could say that partially clouds my vision. But, I would like to think that I have a fairly neutral view of the polarizing flag. I believe it is possible to support police officers and to sympathize with the black lives matter movement at the same time. Both the blue line flag and the Black Lives Matter movement do not represent institutions or organizations. They represent feelings of pride, whether that be pride in law enforcement or pride in the lives of black Americans. It is important that we, as a society, do not allow one to segregate the other, because if we do that, then nothing can be achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Mueller, Benjamin. “2 NYPD Officers Killed in Brooklyn Ambush; Suspect Commits Suicide.”                The New York Times, 20 December 2014.               https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/nyregion/two-police-officers-shot-in-their-patrol-   car-in-brooklyn.html.

Riddell, Kelly. “Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter at odds.” The Washington Times, 29            July 2016. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/29/black-lives-matter-and-     blue-lives-matter-at-odds/.

Henry, shut up!

(RCL #2- IT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED)

In my last RCL post I said that I am a very “passionate” person… That is a very nice way to describe me. I am loud, extremely friendly, and love to be the center of attention. When I played baseball, it was easy for me to be myself; moreover, I would always be the loudest player on the field, give pre-game pep talks, and taunt the other team. How in the world was I going to be obnoxious Henry while doing service?

Sometime after my surgery, I sat in on my school’s service club’s weekly meeting. I remember the board members saying that they needed more money to support our partner school in Nairobi, Kenya. When I went home that day, I found myself meticulously crafting a Super Bowl Pool to ensure that my buddies and I would be able to gamble on the big game. My mom walked into the kitchen, and said, “Hen, why don’t you do a Super Bowl pool for St. Al’s in Kenya?” She got me thinking… Teenagers don’t like to hand out money, but when they have the opportunity to win something, they are the first to open their wallets.

The next day, with the help of a few friends, I set up a Super Bowl Pool ($7 per box) in my school’s cafeteria– $5 from every box would be given to St. Al’s and the other $2 would go towards the prize. At first, no one came over to the sign; it was as if we were invisible. However, in classic Henry fashion, I stood on top of the table and began screaming, “Super Bowl Boxes! $200 pay-out to the winner!” Immediately, a line formed across the cafeteria, and we were forced to create two separate pools. At the end of the day, I raised $1000 for AIDS orphans in Kenya, and that $1000 funded a full year’s education and housing for a child. This simple fundraiser showed me that my personality is at the foundation of all my passions, even when they change.

They Really are People

(RCL #3)

Sometimes you just get that feeling that you can read a person. He’s a jock. She’s a diva… You can base your whole interpretation of a person just by the way they look, carry themselves, or where you see them. Why not look deeper?

In It’s What I Do, Addario chooses to interact with people with definitive stereotypes during a very sensitive time-period— Middle Eastern women directly after 9/11. Not only does she interact with them, but she entertains their thoughts and opinions. I know most people, if they heard someone say that “the attacks of September 11 were justified,” would immediately react in a harsh and aggressive manner (Addario 72). Addario, however, desires to learn more about these women’s lives so that she can understand the reasons behind their hatred of America and to shed light into the society which they were raised.

In high school, I founded a service project called “Regis and Rikers,” which entailed groups of high school students visiting Rikers Island Correctional Facility and interacting with the youth inmates. It started as a branch of my school’s Christian Service Club, but quickly morphed into a school wide effort. Now, here’s the thing: who would want to visit and engage in activities with soon to be convicted criminals? People that are behind bars for apparently breaking the law. People that could potentially hurt or harm you, given their track record.

In thinking about criminals, people fail to understand that they are people; moreover, they have been shaped by their experiences, families, and up-bringing’s. Is it a person’s fault if they were raised in a housing project, received no motivation to attend school, and were left misguided as to learning what is right and wrong? Along these lines, is it the women’s, whom Addario interacted with in the Middle East, fault that they were raised to hate the United States and anything representing it?

This is no means to justify the acts of 9/11, in fact, I have been impacted by the events of Islamic extremists: my mother was in the trade center for the car bomb in 1993, my father is a retired from the NYPD, and I live within sight of what used to be the World Trade Center. But just as Addario did in her novel, I plan to take risks with my passions and to unveil them through my passion blog. 

 

Serve with your tongue out

PASSION BLOG 1:

When I loved to play baseball, oh man, did I show it. You know in grammar school when you’re playing a sport, whether that be soccer, football, or softball, and your coach asks you to cheer for your teammates, well, I had the opposite problem. My coaches used to tell me to quiet down and relax.

When I began to get heavily involved in regular service, I developed a strong desire to help those in need; however, I was not yet sure how I could make an impact that would be different than everyone else. I mean, for the most part, anyone could fill a cup of soup, collect money, or stock shelves. So, I was left with the question: how can I really make a difference?

I don’t mean to say that I simply wanted to be the center of attention in the service that I did, instead, I wanted to stand out in terms of the result of my service. Take the picture below as an example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that is me embarrassing myself on the dance floor with elementary school children. Yes, all the attention is radiated around me. Yes, I look so extra and maybe a little strange. But besides those things, you have to think about what I am doing. The picture was taken during a visit to an elementary school in East Harlem, New York. The kids in the picture primarily come from low income families, and it was my service club’s idea to provide the children with a Christmas Celebration– who knows if their families can give them the same Christmas experience that most of us know and love. Originally, it was our idea to simply hand out candy and color books with the children, but I was having no part in that. If we were going to party, we were going party!

So, yes, I dressed up as Santa and looked ridiculous, but at the end of the day, my group and I held an amazing dance party and the kids were not able to stop smiling or dancing. I know that the kids had a tremendous amount of fun, and I would like to think that my character and my passion to stand out played a role in maximizing our impact on the children.

Now that I have been actively engaged in service for several years, I have grown to love the reward of putting a smile on a person’s face. I have been able to make an impact on communities of suffering ranging from prison inmates trying desperately to reform their lives to patients in hospitals fighting for a few extra days to be with their families.

The work that I have done is not plugged into a stat sheet, like it was in my previous days playing baseball, but I’d like to think life is more than just the “stats.” There’s nothing better than doing something you love and knowing that you can be yourself every step of the way.

 

 

I love surgery

Sitting in my crib, wearing my stylish Derek Jeter onesie, who knew that I would grow up loving the game of baseball? I played t-ball, little league, travel baseball, and eventually high school baseball. Baseball became more than a sport for me; moreover, it was a way for me to bond with my family— often times I would go down to the field with my dad or grandpa to have a catch— it is how I made most of my friends, and it is what truly made me happy. I’m not sure if this is what I really want to talk about because something happened. In high school, baseball became more of a class or business than a fun game. It was as if I was in “The Road to College Baseball” Class every day from 3pm-7pm!

I was losing contact with friends, I was traveling around the country for tournaments, and I was in pursuit of something that I really didn’t want: to play college or professional baseball. I just enjoyed baseball because it was fun. This is going to sound a little weird but the best thing that happened to me was me tearing my labrum in my shoulder. It gave me a break. And during that break, I found something that I enjoyed in a different way than baseball— service. I loved reaching out and helping those in need, and at first glance, service and baseball seemed so much different; however, after really thinking about it, they were actually quite similar. This may seem strange but let me tell you why… My greatest gift is my personality, and I believe what truly defines my personality is my passion. When  I am passionate about something, I give it my all and at the end of my baseball career, I felt I was losing that passion, but thankfully, my passion found a new home. While I wasn’t using my passion to win a baseball game, I was able to use it to provide support, nourishment, and love to people that need it most.