Sunday, May 31, 2009
Prompt: It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we define ourselves.
Identity formation is a continuous process that happens throughout our lives. We all try to be our own person but we are also social beings. Cliques and peer membership do not define the totality of a person. Instead, it offers a quick glimpse into the person's life, their interests and their passions.
Our membership in peer groups gives us a boost of confidence – yes, I do belong. But how does one gain membership into these peer groups? We find something in common with the other members whether it be a shared interest, a common goal, or a shared experience. Whatever that common bond is, it is something that is strong enough that sometimes it helps to define who we are. As the saying goes, “Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are”. For example, I love Christian Louboutin shoes and I am a member of a forum that discusses Christian Louboutin shoes. The forum members and I share our love for Christian Louboutin and his shoes. To them, I will always be crazy shoe-addict girl. But that is just one aspect of my life. The only people who define me by that standard are the other members of the forum. They might define me by my love for shoes and yet other people may define me by some other means – my love fore food, my love for books, my personality.
Peer membership does have its significance in helping shape our identities. The most prominent phase of life when peer membership suddenly becomes of utmost importance (and is most observable) is during our adolescent years. When you think back to your high school days, you can probably distinguish each student by the crowd he/she hangs our with. In the movie Clueless, when Cher gives Tai the tour of the campus, she points out different cliques – the Persian mob, the stoners, the jocks, etc. Each of these groups have criteria for membership, which although not publicly articulated, is certainly implied. For example, one can't be a member of the “jock” group if they didn't play a sport. The members of each group have something in common and they are more or less known throughout the school by their respective cliques. Yet, it is possible to have friends outside of these cliques. In school, we will always be known by the cliques we hang with. Outside of school, we can be identified in some other way. If a jock volunteers at the homeless shelter on weekends, he will be known to those people not as a “jock” but as a benevolent volunteer.
Our identification in social groups does not completely define us. In the grand scheme of things, membership in a peer group is only a small aspect of who we are. The only people who can truly define us outside of our peer group is ourselves.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Prompt: The best preparation for life or a career is not learning to be competitive, but learning to be cooperative.
Cooperation and a competitive nature are both necessary traits to be successful in life or a career. As with everything in life, both traits have positive and negative aspects. A healthy balance of the positive aspects of both traits is needed in order to have a successful and fulfilling life/career.
When we were young, we were taught to be the best we can be in every endeavor we face whether it be school, sports and any other extracurricular activities. From a young age, we are taught to be competitive – to strive for the best. As we get older, this competitive nature is applicable in all aspects of life. We compete when we apply for college, we compete when we apply for jobs, we compete to get promoted. Competition is an inherent part of life, one that we have been preparing for at an early age.
It is also important to remember that we can never do everything alone. Hence, cooperation is also an integral part of being successful. Athletes are the best example of a healthy balance of competition and cooperation. In team sports, a team strives to win but if they don't help each other to achieve that common goal, they ultimately lose. Each team member knows that they can't ONLY look out for themselves. They are one team with one common goal. Their competitive spirit shows because they are out to win and cooperation is shown in their actions to achieve their goal.
Another example is politics. All these candidates from different parties compete against each other in an election. Although they are from different parties, they understand that they have to work with each other in the end. Ultimately they are coming together for the good of the people and they have to work together to achieve that goal. They may not reach an outright agreement. Each of them are still competing to push their own agendas. However, most of them reach a compromise and a compromise can only be reached in the spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
Life is a series of struggles. Without a healthy sense of competition, we might get lost in the shuffle. Too much competition and we alienate people. We all want to win and be the best but we have to realize that we can't do it all alone.
Friday, May 29, 2009
A recent study show that people living on the continent of North America suffer 9 times more chronic fatigue and 31 times more chronic depression than do people living on the continent of Asia. Interestingly, Asians, on average, eat 20 grams of soy per day, whereas North Americans eat virtually non. It turns out that soy contains phytochemicals called isoflavones, which have been found to possess disease-preventing properties. Thus, North Americans should consider eating soy on a regular basis as a way of preventing fatigue and depression.
My analysis of the argument:
The conclusion that North Americans* should eat soy on a regular basis to prevent fatigue and depression, based on the fact that Asians* consume an average of 20 grams of soy per day and are found to be less likely to suffer from chronic fatigue and depression, is a little premature. Although it may be a nice and easy solution to the problem, a variety of other factors can cause the high instances of fatigue and depression that North Americans experience. Additionally, one study alone is not sufficient enough to correctly correlate soy consumption with prevention of fatigue and depression.
The argument states that soy contains isoflavones which possess disease-preventing properties. Although isoflavones might have these properties, the author doesn't state exactly what type of diseases it prevents. Isoflavones might indeed prevent diseases but we don't know if those diseases are in any way related to fatigue and depression. Certainly, more facts regarding the benefits of soy and isoflavones are necessary to make this claim valid. Also, we do not know the underlying factors that contributes to the high incidence of fatigue and depression in North Americans. Fatigue and depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance, emotional/psychological/financial stress or even genetic predisposition.
The best way to correctly validate (or invalidate) the conclusion that soy consumption on a regular basis to prevent fatigue and depression is to do more research in the area. Four control groups are necessary: North Americans that consume 20+ grams of soy per day, Asians that consume 20+ grams of soy per day, North Americans that do not consume soy and Asians that do not consume soy. The conclusion drawn by comparing the incidence of fatigue and depression among these four groups will be a better measure of the correlation of soy consumption to the incidence of fatigue and depression.
*Note: North Americans in this essay mean people living on the continent of North America and Asians mean people living on the continent of Asia.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
I haven't really studied as much as I need to. I've been sidetracked by work, school and other familial obligations. This month, I have to study like I've never done before....literally. I hope I have enough time and space in my brain for all the stuff I still need to learn. Oversaturation is a b*tch.