Death and dying: Where’s the sensitivity?

I feel like lately in the news all I’ve been hearing about is people dying. Not like that’s something new… as the saying goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

But for some reason, the most recent round of death reporting has really gotten to me. Its not the fact that its being reported on (because there’s clearly nothing that can be done about that) its the way we as a society are reacting to it; myself included.

When someone dies, it is a deeply personal and saddening experience for their loved ones. This seems like it should be common knowledge, but its not exactly something we honor.

I just saw a movie preview for Final Destination 5 yesterday, which of course is two hours action-packed with people dying. That’s the whole premise. It makes me sick to think that there is a whole movie series based around death being a force that comes after people… and it is supposed to entertain us. But clearly if the fifth installment is being released in theaters, it’s selling tickets.

Here are some thoughts to consider through the lens of the recent killings in Norway:

It’s really disheartening for a culture of people when one of their own decides to take the lives of others. Usually when we think of terrorist attacks, we think of it as an outsider coming in; not an attack from within.

There’s plenty of discussion around this. Whether its the media being upset that the shooter is being presented as an anti-Muslim rather than a Christian extremist (which I agree is wrong) or Glenn Beck comparing the victims at the camp to Hitler’s Nazi Youth, there’s insensitivity abound… mainly from the mouths of Americans.

In Norway, you hear a different story. In an interesting post on today, Senior Editor Cord Jefferson discussed what Breivik’s punishment could be. The death penalty is never mentioned. And its not something that the Norwegians are demanding, either.

When Jefferson asked norwegian Vegar Svanemyr to compare Norway’s system of dealing with a mass murderer to America’s, here’s what he had to say:

America’s justice system is painfully broken. The lengthy prison sentences received here … only serve capital interests and a medieval sense of revenge, not a modern, just, and caring society. The focus always needs to be on rehabilitating those who can function normally again in society, and containing the very few who can’t.

It’s interesting to hear that perspective from someone who’s country was just attacked. I doubt most Americans would react that way if it were to happen here. Just think of when Bin Laden was killed. There were literally celebrations in the streets.

It’s truly sad.



Five things Friday

1. Sons of Anarchy

Fun fact, the actor who plays Jax is actually British! It's like a hotter, more bad ass House!

If you haven’t seen this TV show yet, you totally need to. It is about a motorcycle club based in a fictional town in Northern California called Charming. It focuses on the main character, Jax Teller, who is the Vice President of the club. Essentially, it is about how he grapples with still being a part of the club even though it is heading in a direction he doesn’t think is right.

Sons of Anarchy is the highest rated show in FX history, which has aired some other really awesome shows such as Nip/Tuck, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Lie to Me. You can catch seasons 1-2 streaming on Netflix. Totally worth checking it out.

2. Violence escalating in San Jose

San Jose, CA is known as one of the safest large cities in the country… or at least it used to be. This year so far, we’ve already doubled the murder rate in San Jose compared to last year. And with police officer layoffs looming, it can’t mean good things.

Most recently, there was a murder-suicide in a San Jose State University parking garage that took place pretty close to my apartment that left three people dead. In what looks like a suspected love triangle, a man killed his wife and one of her fellow students as they sat in a car. Check out this article for more details.

3. GOOD is hiring

I’ve talked about plenty of times on my blog. They are pretty much the epitome of what I love about social media. They recently announced that they are hiring (one of the positions is a social media manager job… hello, my dream!) But since I’m going to grad school and am relocating to Boston, MA, those dreams will have to be put on hold for now.

As for my friends living in LA and NYC, you should check out their postings and see if anything catches your eye.

4. Rochester area brain drain

New demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed what is a surprise to, well no one – young people are leaving the Rochester, NY area.

It is unfortunate since Rochester is a pretty cool city. I seriously considered going back there after I was done with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, but the job market kept me from going back despite getting accepted into RIT (was even offered a damn good scholarship).

When the admissions person asked me why I was turning them down, I had to answer honestly: there are no opportunities for me there. It is sad for me because I don’t think I will ever be able to live there and pursue a successful career in my chosen field. Maybe one day…

5. Religion is human nature, study claims

A recent project that incorporated 40 different studies from all over the world is reporting that religion is instinctive for humans. As someone who is re-exploring the idea of faith, this is a pretty interesting concept… especially since I have been reading studies on how organized religion is depleting around the world.

According to Oxford University professor Roger Trigg (who led the study): “We tend to see purpose in the world. We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can’t see it. … All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking.”

What are your thoughts? Are we predisposed to religiosity from birth? Is organized religion on the decline?

Five Things Friday

1. UCLA Student’s Anti-Asian Rant: Do Colleges Need Mandatory Diversity Classes?

In the aftermath of the earthquake of Japan, millions of Americans were posting prayers and kind words for those affected by the tragedy. One UCLA student however, found it to be the perfect opportunity to post a video on youtube attacking Asian students for their “misbehavior” on campus. While I won’t honor her ignorance by posting the video on my blog, you can see excerpts accompanied with student interviews here.

In response to her video post, one of my favorite blogs posed the question: Do Colleges Need Mandatory Diversity Classes? I think this is an excellent suggestion. This week on the City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley blog, I posted a piece titled Celebrating diversity through inclusivity about how before I served in City Year, I didn’t really have sufficient exposure to diversity. I’m wondering if a mandatory diversity course in college would have been beneficial to myself and my peers. It’s fair to guess that it would have.

2. Protestors outside Planned Parenthood

It seems like every time I ride my bike to the gym, I get accosted by the pro-life protestors who are outside of Planned Parenthood, which is located right across the street from the Y. This past week a man asked me if I wanted a pamphlet filled with pro-life rhetoric (well, he didn’t word it quite like that) and when I politely said no thank you, he then proceeded to ask me if I had any questions for him about my female development. Lucky for him, I was too shocked to respond and the light changed so I was able to cross the street.

A couple days later as I was on my bike heading to the gym, I saw an abnormally large crowd protesting outside of Planned Parenthood. But as I got closer, I saw that their signs read “Thank you Planned Parenthood” and “Don’t cut Teachers.” I spoke with a couple of the protestors thanking them for being out there in the rain to represent those who need Planned Parent’s services for health reasons (myself included) and for the teachers who work so hard, yet have been under much scrutiny. It brought tears to my eyes to hear all of the people honking as they drove by; showing solidarity with these people. Thank you.

3. Save Service

On March 15th, Save Service asked voters to call their Senators to ask them to reject an FY11 Budget that will strip the Corporation for National and Community Service of its federal funding. Thousands of people called their Senators, pleading the case for National Service.

The fight is not over. I encourage you to visit Save Service and Voices for National Service to see how you can help keep the spirit of service alive in this country.

If you need a little inspiration, here is a video I put together highlighting the invaluable services City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley has provided to the Alum Rock School District during the past seven months:

*Please remember that any opinions I express on my blog are my own and do not represent the views of City Year and/or AmeriCorps.

4. Good Joe/City Year Design Contest

City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley is teaming up with Goodjoe to facilitate a design contest to create an inspiring t-shirt design that will be sold with half of the proceeds going to City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley. The person who submits the winning design (which will be decided by City Year and Goodjoe) will win a $500 prize! For more information on the contest, click here.

5. Jon Stewart’s Cribs: Teacher Edition

This is probably the funniest sketch I have seen in a long time. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself.

Social media personas I love

So last week I mapped out for you the social media character types that I really can’t stand. As I promised in that post, here is the flip side. These are the types of social media personas that I follow diligently and re-blog and retweet to my heart’s desire.

1) The Sharp Tongue

I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to have an immature sense of humor… those of you who know me best can probably attest to that fact. So naturally, I love bloggers and tweeters who exemplify that immature (and sometimes dirty) sense of humor. I’m also a sucker for celebrity gossip (lame, I know), so when you put those two together, there is a great shot I’m reading your blog. While I do check out Perez Hilton every other day or so to update myself on gossip, I never go a day without reading Dlisted. Michael K is absolutely hilarious. From his “Hot Slut of the Day” feature to his banters about “Mah Boo” Anderson Cooper, he keeps me rolling in laughter all while keeping me up with the Kardashians. Who could ask for more?

There are also quite a few Twitter feeds that I enjoy.

They include: @FakeAPStyleBook, @NotGaryBusey@StellaRTwot@theandyorr and @skittlesbeard

2) The Creative

I love typography, photography and graphic design. Thankfully Tumblr exists to assuage my appetite for creativity. Some of my favorite Tumblr accounts to follow are: I Love Chartsideaboner (Note: a lot of his stuff is NSFW) fuckyeahhelvetica, hellonewyork, The Avid Eater and  Puffin’s Nest.

3) The Activist

As I’ve mentioned about a bagillion times in my blog, I am an AmeriCorps member and I really, really love community service. Lucky for me, there are a lot of other people out there who are just as passionate as I am about national service.

Some of the people I know through City Year that represent this well include: @MichaelMessina, @WStephenAnfield, @RomelAntoine, @Mamawooster, @LauraPeterPants and @MissnoTORIous

4) The (Interesting) Information Sharer

I’m a news junkie. Therefore I love it when people share interesting information with the world. One of my favorite places to get news from is I follow them on Twitter and receive an e-mail with one good piece of news a day. I like that it is a blogger and designer community where people can submit work and share, well, good news.

Some other folks that do a good job of sharing info include: @BillKuchman and @Ckanal

What are some of your favorite bloggers, tweeters, photographers or designers? I’m always down to find new addictions to follow…