Sunday, January 8, 2017

Human in The Eyes of the Jury

I've just finished reading the Invisible Man about a week ago and let me just say, it really wasn't my favorite books. I'm not the type of person who just reads the first half of a book to see if it's good or not and make my judgments based on a section of a book. I read through the entire book and make my assessment to determine whether I should recommend the book to my friends or warn them to avoid the book by all means. All of the slang, jargon, and dialect Ralph Ellison uses is sort of confusing and makes it kind of hard to read. I can never tell who is speaking. I admire how Ellison was able to portray imagery, tone, and the way he develops the characters through the actions and behaviors throughout the story. As stated in my last blog, I said that I would read eighty to ninety pages a week. Nonetheless, I was not able to achieve my goals. As a new year is ushered into our lives and as 2017 has just begun, I'm going to make it my goal for this year to read at least two hundred pages a week and read about twelve pages per minute. But for right now, I'm going to strive to keep pursuing my previous goal of eighty to ninety pages a week and work my way up the ladder to get where I want to be in my reading routine.

     I've started reading a new book recently called Monster by Walter Dean Myers. It's definitely one of those books that immediately hooked my attention I read the first few pages of the book. The one thing that's unique and stands out from all other books is that this book is that it doesn't have any chapters because it is written like a movie script. Sort of like how Shakespeare writes his plays. The only difference is that Myers can actually speak in common English, thus the reader can understand what Myers is conveying through this novel. The story takes place in a neighborhood of New York City. Harlem. A sixteen-year-old boy by the name of Steve Harmon is convicted of murder. And he's not the only one behind this atrocity. Steve, Richard "Bobo" Evans, and James King were the main links behind this crime along with a few other people working in the background. A drugstore owner was found shot in his own store one night, and word on the street is Steve served as a lookout in this heinous crime.  Steve is then taken into court with Bobo Evans and James King as they're each given attorneys to defend them in this case of who's guilty and who's innocent. Steve Harmon narrates the story as he describes and writes down his experience, his emotions, and his thoughts toward the case, the jury, and his once normal life in script format. 

One of my favorite quotes so far throughout this narrative takes place on pages sixty-one through sixty-two when the preacher in the the courtroom asked if anyone needed someone to talk to or needed a moment in prayer. Abruptly, a man who was put on trial for murdering his wife started cursing at the preacher and exclaimed that everyone who was convicted acted like "good" civilians when really, they were criminals at heart. Steve comments about this statement in his script and explains that "in a way, he was right, at least about me. I want to look like a good person. I want to feel like I am a good person because I believe I am. But being in here with these guys makes it hard to think about yourself as being different... I see what Mrs. O'Brien meant when she said part of her job was to make me look human in the eyes of the jury." My thoughts on this quote are whether people have committed a wrongdoing, have a flaw that makes them stand out, or made a mistake in life that they necessarily think what outcome lies ahead for it, there's a reason behind it. There's a reason behind everything. Everything that we learn and apply is based on cause and effect. People go to school BECAUSE they want to learn and want an education. People like to cook BECAUSE they love food. People play sports BECAUSE they love to be active. And lastly, people commit crimes BECAUSE, maybe they're looking for something more. Something to satisfy their heart's content. Something to fulfill that missing piece in their life that they've been longing for ever since they lost it. To be accepted. Not rejected. But to be accepted. Accepted into their family. Accepted into their friendships and relationships. Accepted into society. Or maybe, just accepted as a person. 

"Somewhere deep down there's a decent man in me, he just can't be found."
 - Eminem

There are so many Steve Harmons in this world that just can't live with themselves because they feel as though they need to fit in with the crowd in order to be accepted. They need to do something in order to feel like they feel like they're one with a group. However, if everyone wanted to belong to one group due to the same intentions into acceptance, then would anyone be different? If anyone is reading my blog, know that it's okay to be different. It's okay to make mistakes and have "flaws in your system" because no one is born perfect. If everyone was born perfect, wouldn't that make everyone ordinary? No one was born evil. No one was born wicked. No was born with a reckless heart and a punk attitude that desires to pick fights with people everywhere they would roam. Yes Hitler was one of the most ruthless dictators in history, yes Stalin was responsible for executions and famines which resulted in twenty million deaths, and yes Zedong was responsible for causing a famine that killed thirty million people. But, when they were born as a baby, their families probably thought that these people were so innocent and so guiltless that the parents wouldn't do anything to give their child away. At one point,  people might've thought they were perfect as a child. Nevertheless, no one can be without any imperfections. It's impossible. Still, I believe there is goodness in everyone and people can be good if we accept them and don't exclude them from our "clique." Because people that aren't accepted feel as though they're downright no good and don't belong anywhere. And in neighborhoods where there are a lot of people in gang fights and doing drugs probably result to those solutions because they don't feel accepted anywhere and they have that mentality where they just think, "what have I got to lose?" As people, we should strive to be a little more courteous, a little more kind, and a little more accepting of others no matter their race, age, intellect, or talents. We should accept people because, in the end, we're all human. Acceptance is more than satisfaction. It's an uncontrollable jubilance that's overwhelming. To be accepted is to belong.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Bully and the Bullied

I'm still reading Invisible Man about two weeks ago! All of the slang, jargon, and dialect Ralph Ellison uses is sort of confusing and makes it kind of hard to read. I reached the part where the narrator and the founder of a college are riding through the college and discussing the greatest feats of the college and I can never tell who is speaking. I've spent about three weeks trying to finish this book and I'm still reading it till this day! I admire how Ellsion was able to be very descriptive of everything the narrator is seeing as if the reader is in the eyes of the narrator. As stated in my last blog, I stated that I was going to attempt to read thirty minutes at home instead of twenty and I was going to continue to challenge myself to read more books with lots of pages and smaller text to go with it. My previous goal that I pursued was ninety to a hundred pages a week reading six pages per minute. Nevertheless, with all the craziness and chaos in life and whatnot, I never really had time to catch up on my reading and I believe my reading rate decreased to about sixty to seventy pages a week, reading approximately three or four pages a minute. I'm trying to get back on track with my reading and increase it little by little. Maybe eighty pages a week and then strive for ninety pages a week.

     On the side, I've been reading a book called The Last Great Getaway of the Waterballoon Boys by Scott William Carter. So far in this book, a boy by the name of Charlie Hill, an intellectual straight-A geek, who's bullied by a more bulky intimidating kid by the name of Leo Gonzalez. Charlie describes Leo as a guy who, "may not have had brains, but he wasn't the sort of guy who told you he was going to rip off your face and feed it to his gerbils unless he was really going to do it." Charlie is trapped in the bathroom stall to avoid any further contact with Leo when subsequently, Leo and his "wingman," Parrot Pete, stroll into the bathroom, discussing about the beat down they're going to do on Charlie Hill after school. Fortunately, Charlie's ex-best friend, Jake, stood up and stalled for Charlie and managed to reluctantly leave the bathroom. The friends nowadays I consider to be are fair weather friends. They're the type of friends that will only be by your side when good things happen, but will leave you when bad comes lurking around the corner. Even though I've only read the first two chapters of this book, I've learned that true friends, friends that are genuine that'll stick up for you when you are at the lowest point in your life will stay with you through the end. Because that what's friends do. And that's what we, humans, need to act like. We should put an end to childish affairs and conflicts and start acting like civilized people. We need to start being more mature, thoughtful, and respectful of others and not exclude anyone out of a group. We should be encouraging, outgoing, and show kindness to others. Because that's what we would want others to do for us. When times are jubilant, we rejoice and celebrate with our friends. When times are rough, we cherish the good moments in life and reminesce on all the times where we rejoice in the enjoyment of amusement. .It's like the old saying. "When you fall down, a fake friend will pick you up but a real friend will laugh at you." We unite. We are one. We are human. Because people exist to help others, not to ridicule.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Am I Invisible?

     I just started reading Invisible Man about a week ago! So far, I love the way Ellison uses a distinct dialect in the story to create a certainty tone and mood in the story in order to establish the time period the story takes place. As stated in my last blog, I've spent about twenty minutes reading at school and twenty minutes reading at home a day. So, overall I've been spending four hours and forty minutes a week. However, I've been off my reading game lately and I've been only reading for about ten minutes reading at home and twenty minutes reading at school since some of the dialogue is kind of hard to understand which takes me more time to process the story. Still, I'm continuing to challenge myself in increasing my reading time to about thirty minutes at home instead of my average twenty minutes at home. I am continuing to challenge myself to read more books with lots of pages and smaller text to go with it. I kept my new goal from my last blog and continue to pursue ninety to a hundred pages a week reading six pages per minute.

     In Invisible Man, Ellison states boldly in his introduction to the story, "I am invisible, understand, because people refuse to see me." One of the main reasons why I love this book is because it take place in a period near or of segregation. I love these kinds of books in general, because there's always at least one outlier in the story who stands up for what is just and right and tries to make a difference in their society. According to Malcolm X, "segregation is that which is forced upon an inferior by a superior. Segregation is done voluntarily by two equals." For one moment in time, we were all living a life where "America preached integration but yet practiced segregation." - Malcolm X. Where blacks were separated from the whites and they would go about their daily lives. I despise segregation because of the cruelty and chaos that goes with it. However, the outcome that comes out in the end is magnificent. As a result, people of all sorts of shapes, sizes, and skins are equally and wonderfully made in the eyes of God. We were not born to discriminate and mock others, but to encourage and lift up the spirits of others no matter their skin. Ellison goes on to say in the prologue that "...invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality." It's amazing how influential leaders like Sandra Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were able to be the few outliers in life and able to rise up from the comfort zone and go out into the real world with courage and boldness to stand up for their beliefs in equality. To become a country's where people don't exclude others from a group, but rather bring them in. Because that's what diversity is. I believe that diversity isn't just a group of people hanging out with each other. Diversity to me is different individuals valuing each other regardless of their skin, intellect, talents, or age.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Time Of Reflection...

     I finished The Death Cure about two weeks ago! I've spent about three weeks trying to finish this book and I have succeeded! I loved how James Dashner build suspense and drama throughout the story which kept me on the edge of my seat! As stated in my last blog, I've spent about twenty minutes reading at school and twenty minutes reading at home a day. So, overall I'm spending four hours and forty minutes a week. I feel like I'm starting to cover more ground when I'm reading at this rate. Ever since my last blog, I feel like I've been reading at an exceedingly faster rate compared to rate when I was reading Planet Tad. I'm even thinking about challenging myself in increasing my reading time to about thirty minutes at home instead of twenty. I am continuing to challenge myself to read more books with lots of pages and smaller text to go with it. My new goal that I'm going to pursue is about ninety to a hundred pages a week reading six pages per minute.

     A nonfiction book that started reading is Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. This book is about a four year old boy who "dies" during his surgery at the hospital, takes a trip to heaven, and then returns back to earth right after his surgery and shares his experiences on heaven to his family and friends. This story eventually goes global and the next thing you know, the whole world is talking about the boy who was sent down by God himself. As of right now, I'm at the part where Colton Burpo (the boy who went to heaven and back) and his father Todd Burpo are driving back to Benkelman, "a small farming town twenty-eight miles due south of Imperial" because Todd had to get another job in order to keep the family financially stable. During the drive, Colton questioned Todd if he had a grandpa named Pop and how he got to stay with him in Heaven. Todd was awe stricken when he heard the words come out of Colton's mouth that he almost drove off the road and into the corn field. If I was in his shoes, I would've drove off the road. If I had someone tell me that they knew someone that I didn't even tell them he or she existed, I would've flipped. I don't even know what I would do if I was in this situation and I would try to recall ever telling that one person about the person I never told them about. And I always remember what I tell people, from start to finish.

     This book has not only been a page turner, but also has helped shaped and molded me into a  more considerate, understanding, and a respectful person. But only as a person, but as a Christian in general. Even though I haven't read finished this book yet, I recommend this book for people that are lost. People that feel inferior and feel like they can never amount to anything in life. People that are always downcast due to the insults and threats they receive from people that think they're "all that." This book is for people who are trying to find hope. In our society today, there is so much chaos and craziness that's occurring in our world that no one knows what to do to stop it. Hope is lost in the world and there are a scarce amount of people and things in this world that have the capability to bring hope back. Todd Burpo articulated in the book that, "Now is not the time to quit and mourn. Now is the time for prayer and action." And as a fellow believer in faith,I personally agree. The direction this world is going towards can take us from a peaceful and joyous planet that can lead to our downfall.We should stop using our hands to fight and use them to mend bonds that were broken. We should stop poisoning out body with toxins that kill our spirit and start nourishing our body with encouragement and kindness to restore a body that was once unclean. Because if we, humans, don't act now, our world will fall apart and collapse and confusion and wickedness will run rampant in our streets unless we do something, NOW... 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Reading Wonderland...

     I just finished reading Planet Tad a week ago! This book adds a comical and humorous tone that describes Tad's different adventures throughout his middle school life. I've spent about twenty minutes reading at school and twenty minutes reading at home so I think I'm on the right track! This book has two hundred and thirty nine pages and I'm challenging myself to read more books with lengthier pages with small text. I'm trying to aim my goal at about eighty to ninety pages a week, reading about four pages a minute. This week I read about sixty pages so I probably need to ramp up my reading speed and meet up to my goal. Typically I read books that involve either action or comedy, however, I'm going to try to expand my reading life and discover new authors like James Dashner, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis and new genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and mystery.

     As a result of discovering new reading journeys, I've just started reading The Death Cure by James Dashner. I read the Scorch Trials last year and really enjoyed the action, suspense, and plot in the story that Dashner developed throughout the story. It was definitely one of my favorite reads that I read my freshman year. I didn't read the Maze Runner because I watched the movie to fill me in on the details. From then on, I've decided to make it my goal to read The Death Cure and to read more books that are similar to the style of The Maze Runner series. So far, Thomas, the Gladers, and Group B just escaped from the Scorch and are placed in a solitary confinement until further notice from Rat Man, one of the rest administrators of WICKED. Thomas and a few other friends just found out their immune to the Flare, a disease that turns people into zombie-like creatures called Cranks and because of their immunity to the disease, they were specifically chosen by doctors of WICKED to find a cure for the Flare and to stop it once and for all.

     In chapter three, Rat Man escorted Thomas from his holding cell and brought him to the showers where, "Thomas took off his nasty clothes and got to work making himself look human again." Whenever I first read this, I thought Dashner used this quote more than just an ending sentence of a chapter. I thought the process of taking the clothes off was very symbolic and can be applied to our daily lives. It means people breaking down the walls and chains in their lives and freeing themselves from bondage. It means getting yourself uncomfortable and go talk to the new kid sitting alone by himself at lunch. It means going the extra mile whenever one sets a goal for him/herself. I thought the quote itself was very profound when representing people who are not ordinary but they're extraordinary. We should all strive to be more "human" by giving more than we have to offer in our world, helping others around us who are struggling with certain issues in their lives, or just having a smile on our face and telling people, "Good morning," even though its a gloomy, and rainy day. To all those that are reading my blog right now, I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and start something new today. Be a little more courteous to others and be helpful to those around you. Reach for the stars. The sky is the limit. Get rid of any burdens in your life holding you back from achieving your dreams and just go for it. Because life is short. And you'll never know what sorts of things you can accomplish in just a short amount of time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Read On!

     Hi! My name is Josiah Jacob and I'm a sophomore at Hebron High School! When I was little, I used to despise reading. Reading to me was like spending time with my grandma for two weeks. It was dreadful to read anything in my perspective as a kid. However, once I started to discover new genres and author's that I interested me, I developed a habit and started reading books of my choosing that I liked. I typically love reading books that involve mysteries, humor, and action.

     My goal for this year is to read at least eight books before the end of my sophomore year. I'm already reading about twenty to thirty minutes a day so I believe I'm on the right track. Currently I'm reading Planet TAD by Tim Carvell. This book is about Tad, a seventh grader at Lakeville Middle School who strives to survive middle school. And just like me, he has a blog of his own where he logs every day and explains the adventures he has that day. I love this book because of the comedy Carvell displays throughout the story and Tad's experiences in his mindset as the reader journeys through the story. I'm going to read Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Bomb: The Race To Build--And Steal--The World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison by the end of this semester.