Monday, March 28, 2011

Leaving a Mark

Tonight, I went to the panel “What Would Romero Do?” The discussion commemorates the 31st anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s death on March 24th. The Archbishop was assassinated while celebrating a Mass in San Salvador. He was killed because he preached for the military to defy their leaders and not contributing to the repression. Romero was well known and respected for urging an end to growing violence. He defended the rights of the poor, which include being able to demand political change. This was seen as a threat by the El Salvador’s government. Romero once said, “If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people.” The Archbishop truly left his mark on the country, as he is now in the process of being canonized.

Leaving a mark on the world is a common theme in all of the literature we read for this week. In the short story, “A Father,” by Bharati Mukherjee, a father worries about what marks have been imprinted on his daughter. He, a traditional Indian man, fears the effects of growing up in a provocative American society. Because his daughter didn’t grow up in his hometown, she doesn’t have feminine charm needed to find a husband. When the father learns his daughter is pregnant, he is grateful and upset. He rejoices because someone found her attractive, but is upset by the shame she will bring on the family, in addition to the shame of the abortion she will probably have. The father resolves to accept the baby so he may see his grandchild. He dreams of meeting the father of the baby and welcoming him to his family. This is a sign of his acceptance of new culture. When he learns the daughter is pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, he is infuriated by the mockery of his traditions. He hits his daughter’s stomach with a shoe, aborting the baby.

Leaving a mark on the world is not usually a negative occurrence. In the article “Serving Up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, readers of the The Baltimore Sun learn of Galen Sampson. He is the owner a deli and teacher of a culinary school to help people with troubled lives get back on their feet. He teaches valuable skills to help former drug addicts, and other troubled citizens transition back into society with jobs and opportunities to progress. Sampson leaves his mark on the Baltimore community by letting troubled people know that their opinions matter, they can improve their lives, and he is willing to help them.

Finally, we read the poems “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and “First Practice.” When I first saw the title of the first poem, I remembered how much I hated the SAT. My family wasted valuable time and money to prepare me for a test, which, despite the hype, didn’t have an impact on my life. Richard Hague, the author of the poem, agrees with my view of the SAT. He says forget all you are forced to memorize and flaunt for the test, but instead, go into the world and make a difference. The second poem, by Gary Gildner, recalls a coach at the first practice. The coach explains that winning means everything to him and he will do all it will take to win. He promotes the boys to brutal to each other. However, he follows up by saying he doesn’t want to see any of the marks after the dress. This is symbolic of the coach’s admittance that his impact on the children is not one that should be respected, but rather covered up.

The lesson of the readings and event this week share a common theme of leaving a mark. There are some marks that are better left covered, for they are detrimental to society, but more often it is the opposite. There are plenty of people who are ready to go out in to the world and improve everyone’ quality of life. The first step is to know that no matter who you are, or what your past is, you matter and you can make a difference.

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