A lot has happened in our corner of the universe since the last we talked.
To start, Obama faced the crisis in Syria. May I say, kudos to our President. His handling of the situation revealed a great deal about who he is as a person and a leader.
He could have easily disregarded the idea of presenting Bashar al-Assad with an opportunity to avoid the planned air strike. Many leaders would have said, "I declared to the world that I was launching a military strike so a military strike I will launch."
Obama instead put the safety of the Syrian people ahead of his personal pride and thankfully, al-Assad has the opportunity to hand over the country’s stockpile of chemical weapons before military aggression is used. The world would have fewer wars if its leaders followed suit.
Just shortly after the Syrian crisis, it was announced that Vermont Yankee will be decommissioned. The anti-nuclear supporter in me is glad to see the plant’s days come to an end.
I don’t view nuclear energy as a source of clean energy because it leaves behind enormous amounts of radioactive waste. This hazardous material does not stay radioactive up to one year, or 10 years, but thousands of years. Thousands! If a leak or meltdown were to occur between now and then, people exposed to the radiation could be poisoned, develop cancer or die.
How can we pass on such a burden to the generations to come?
At the same time, I think it’s important to acknowledge that Vermont Yankee employs hundreds of people, mainly residents of the southern Vermont area. Some of my schoolmates and friends have parents that work for VY. Come next fall, their mom or dad is out of a job.
I have been reminding myself that while this is a victory for the clean energy community, people’s livelihoods area at stake.
The third major happening was the government shutdown. I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the situation, but here is how I see it.
In an effort to repeal Obama Care, which has provided millions of Americans with affordable health care, the Republicans practically engineered a government shutdown. While our Congressmen and women played a multi-week-long game of "Who’s Going to Blink First?" average American workers have been denied their paychecks. A decision has finally been made to raise the debt ceiling, and therefore this absurdity can be put to rest.
I fail to see how these last few weeks have been in any way productive, but again, I suppose I don’t understand the nuances of the situation ...
Though these last two months have proven sufficiently eventful on a national scale, my focus has been elsewhere. I have been trapped in a bubble, if you will. It is a small, endlessly taxing, and, more often than not, defeating bubble that goes by the name of college applications.
I am in the midst of finishing the Early Decision application for my top choice school, and to say I’m stressed is an understatement. I feel as if I have to prove to a group of strangers that I am worthy of their time and resources; but only using the space provided.
The main criteria for admissions judgment are a student’s transcript, grade point average, standardized test scores, essays, extra-curricular and teacher recommendations. This is the first time in my life I have been deduced to qualifications and numbers. It is not an encouraging feeling.
It also extremely frustrating because a genius with perfect SAT scores, a 4.2 GPA, and a list of extracurricular activities that stretches from Alaska to Hawaii is extremely attractive on paper. But there’s no way to know if that person is interesting to have a conversation with, or if they’re kind, or engaged, or quirky.
In light of this concern, I jumped at the chance to communicate who I am through a piece of creative writing. I want colleges to see me in my entirety and not just the pieces they’re looking for. Here’s what I told them:
A genie tapped me on my shoulder and asked me what I wished.
"Please I wish for a Steinway old enough to sing a flat tune; everything is prettier when it isn’t perfect.
"Please I wish to travel to one hundred countries before I die; I cannot find understanding in a world that is unknown to me.
"Please I wish for the gift of flight so I can be close to the heavens; the clouds look alive and I hear angels are quite hospitable."
The genie asked me why I did not wish for one hundred more wishes and the end of human suffering.
"I did not ask for one hundred more wishes because a life without struggle is not a life I want to live. Khalil Gibran told me that, ‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.’ Well, all the world’s a stage and I’m auditioning for a leading role. But who could write a tragedy if no one ever shed a tear? I did not ask for the end to human suffering because the world would stand shoulder to shoulder but never walk hand in hand. Humanity only prevails if inhalations of suffering are followed by exhalations of compassion. Suffering, compassion. Suffering, compassion."
The genie asked me what else I thought.
"Thunderstorms are proof that the gods like to bowl. It is a beautiful possibility that I see yellow when you see blue. The moon bears a smiling face and the stars tell the stories of a thousand years. Lullabies are too morbid to be sung to children and there is no such thing as coincidence."
The genie asked me what I do.
"I built a hermitage in the woods so I could sit with my thoughts. I boogie in the car and belt in the shower. I see beauty in weeds and hope in dilapidation. I raise melodies from piano keys when my fingers jump from black to white. I explore foreign lands to discover new pieces of myself."
The genie asked me who I am.
"I’m me. No more, and no less. Just me."
The genie thanked me for answering her questions. Turns out she was just curious.
That’s all for today. Until next time,
Alana Redden is a senior at Leland & gray. She can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.