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Rehagen Liberal Allison Studies 100 (08) December 16, 2009 Paving the Way for Success and Happiness through a Liberal Education: An Integrative Statement Throughout this course my overall knowledge of life, of the world, of what is necessary to live in todays society has grown immensely. This understanding, as I later learned is liberal education. At the beginning of this semester I read the essays and completed the assigned work, but I failed to depict the meaning hidden underneath. Through the LEAP programs and the course readings, I was introduced to new, deeper levels of thinking. I was then able to see how these deep meanings are relevant outside of the classroom. It was these connections that initiated my ability to distinguish the concept of liberal education and produce my own convictions. I became able to deduce that the transformation from a novice to a liberally educated individual is not something that is easily identified; rather it as a combination of qualities that by complimenting self-satisfaction enables one to perceive the world efficiently in todays society. Having that said, I believe liberal education is learning that allows one to obtain prominent abilities through experiences that will lead them to personal and community fulfillment; these abilities include self-initiation, personal responsibility, a balance of diversity, examination of ones origin of happiness, persistence, and the ability to empathize with others. It wasnt until I attended LEAP programs that I ventured into deeper thought and consequently discovered the life lessons portrayed in the text. Likewise, I have come to believe that my education starts now and everything that I accumulated up until this point is no longer relevant, no longer necessary. If my later understanding classifies the prior as nave, then I assume that my current state of mind will be re-understood in the future. I have come to recognize that knowledge is never complete, as change is continuous. For this reason, it is important to continue this transformation into deeper thought and insight through which we will all succeed. Liberal Education is not something that is done unto you; rather it is something that you exert unto yourself in the search for happiness. It is having the desire to become diverse while still keeping your passions at heart. This transformation requires experiences that will complement your individual talents and passions in life, which in turn will produce a society full of individuals each with a broad knowledge beyond their specialty. Self-initiation was seen in Jumping Mouse, when Little Mouse ventured away from his mouse village after discovering the yearning in his heart to leave his secluded life and move toward something much larger. However, only those willing to listen and then initiate achieve success and happiness: People are never forced to do these things (Storm 305). The sacrifices that Jumping Mouse made along the way contributed to his diverse perspectives as an eagle. Understanding that the life you pursue might not exceed the life you are living, but pursuing it anyway is a necessary risk for success and ultimate happiness however, disappointment is inevitable. With self-initiation comes the ability to overcome the fear of disappointment. Vandana Shiva started her seed business with no indication that it would be a success: she gave up her well-paying job and education to pursue her passion. Much like Jumping Mouse, Shiva initially did what was expected of her without stopping to look at the big picture (Pink 140). To those people who perceive this way, the sky will always be full of spots because of their nearsightedness (Storm 305). Perceiving the world only how others want you to see it will only magnify the negative qualities, such as failure or spots in the sky. Those who engage in this behavior will never be satisfied with life for there will always be something missing. Some choose to live in the stink, and others, refusing to leave the Old Mouses place, thirst constantly (Storm 306). By attending Vandana Shivas event I learned that one cannot expect success and happiness to find them, rather one must initiate the transformation into a liberally educated individual. This is relevant in my life, as only I can produce the career that my heart desires. In order to lay the foundation for the transformations that will lead to success and personal well-being, one must take responsibility for themselves both physically and mentally. By attending the Wellness Wheel program, I learned that personal health is of great importance in the lives we lead. The program provided pathways for a healthy mind and body with which to start a life of success, happiness, and learning. I learned that health is an important aspect to success and in the most extreme cases is the deciding factor in success. This is seen in Ishmael Beahs journey depicted in his memoir, A Long Way Gone; where Beah found himself killing birds, stealing food from starving children, and risking his life for nourishment: We had no choice but to sneak back into Mattru Jong [] so that we could by food (Beah 27). His success was dependent upon his health, as seen in many poverty-stricken countries. Through this program, I became not only aware of but also genuinely concerned for those who live in poverty around the world, as their quality of life is severely compromised by poor nutrition. The child refugees in Sudan depicted in the Invisible Children program are also examples the affects of poor nutrition on success and happiness of a community. But do not forget that physical health is only half of the battle, for mental health is equally as important for personal-well being. Mental health is an essential aspect in the transformation to a liberally educated citizen. Another prominent issue of the Wellness Wheel program was dealing with stress in an efficient manner. Stressful disturbances may create barriers that inhibit ones ability to examine them self - consequently preventing one from finding happiness as a citizen in their community. Jumping Mouse and the other mice were so consumed with their work that they failed to see how unhappy they were: Some deny the presence of these sounds, others do not hear them at all, and still others, my son, hear them so clearly that it is screaming in their hearts (Storm 298). Like Jumping Mouse, those who come to the conclusion that they are unhappy provoke the transformation towards personal well-being and ultimately into a liberally educated citizen. It causes them to search for meanings, answers, happiness, and in the process acquire knowledge that they didnt set out to acquire. This accidental learning is the essence of what a liberally educated citizen experiences every day, as this type of learning occurs outside of the classroom. Transformations like these, however, are not spontaneous for they require personal responsibility in each and every person. Alterations of this type only occur when joined concurrently with individual and community input. Liberally educated citizens can express their individual beliefs and still be accepted by the community and vice versa; happiness of the individual and happiness of the community are dependent upon each other: [] a diversity of people elegantly suited to live in their places and bring them to their best use, whether the use is that of uselessness, as in a place left wild, or that of the highest sustainable productivity (Berry 217). Vandana Shiva and Wendell Berry stressed the importance of keeping large and smallscale farmers happy, as their products are the worlds natural source of diversity among the land. This diversity of food and monocultures will make communities thrive. With the responsibility of each individual this diversity and ultimate happiness is possible. Another important ability that a liberally educated person obtains through the transformation is a balance of diversity; a balance between ones passion and a broader knowledge of ideas other than that passion. This is greatly supported by Vandana Shiva, as she, herself has expanded her wisdom beyond her initial interest in seed preservation, to global diversity. As Shiva said, The idea of a mans empire rises above nature and species, this is the insight of a man who puts his passion before what is sufficient for society one such man does not obtain a liberal education. One that is liberally educated understands that, We need a greater range of species and varieties of plants and animals, of human skills and methods, so that the use may be fitted ever more sensitively to the place (Berry 211). By attending Shivas event I learned that if each person finds their passion in life, the world will be at its peak efficiency. However, this is only possible in the presence of a liberal education. A community filled with citizens capable of working together to synthesis their diverse passions and broader components will produce a creative masterpiece. A prominent ability to consider in the balance of diversity is recognizing the productivity of an individual versus that of a community. By attending the Vandana Shiva and Invisible Children programs, I learned that individuals alone accomplish very little, but cumulatively they can achieve great things. One person alone cannot bring a diversity of monocultures to the world or rescue refugee children in Sudan; but communities can witness positive results by advocating these issues as a team. A liberally educated citizen knows how to work together and promotes both group satisfaction, as well as individual fulfillment. As seen in The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, Johnny accomplished very little while focused on is personal status he produced the best results while working in the mindset of bringing success to the company: The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others. make They their boss look good. They help their teammates succeed (Pink). Those with the ability to think of the needs of the society will achieve success in both their careers and personal lives: [] the most successful people improve their own lives by improving others lives (Pink). An important quality that a liberally educated citizen acquires is the ability to examine their origin of happiness. Expansion of knowledge is dependent upon contentment of the individual, however, one must examine their origin of happiness in order to obtain true satisfaction and benefit themselves as well as their surrounding community. This origin is the place that stems the motives and desires that will ultimately lead one the person they want to become, however, ones happiness may not be at the benefit of others. By attending the program, Latinos in the United States, I realized the false lens through which Americans (including myself) view the surrounding world and how this negativity contributes to our classification of contentment. The immigrants that cross the Mexican border into the United States come with the hope of finding a place of refuge and happiness. Their miserable living conditions prior to immigration is just one negative aspect that Americans thrive off of - for compared to those horrible conditions, life in the United States is extraordinary. This feeling of superiority towards Mexicans brings many Americans joy. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that many classify their happiness by the misfortunes of others. Realizing that ones contentment does not stem from true happiness is the first step in ones expansion of knowledge and overall well-being. Happiness at the expense of others is depicted in The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas: [] they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, wholly depend on this childs abominable misery (Le Guin 278). The people of Omelas were happy at the expense of another; this is not a liberally educated community. This is also seen in A Long Way Gone, as Americans at the time were oblivious to the meaning and context behind the war in Sierra Leone only interested in the violence and negativity. It is this violence projected in the media that fuels the joy and satisfaction with our own lives. This origin from which our happiness extends does not portray a liberally educated society, as those who acquire a liberal education yearn for the contentment of their society and find joy in others happiness. Persistence plays a prominent role in the transformation into a liberally educated citizen and ultimate happiness. One may have the necessary skills and talent to complete a task, but without persistence one cannot achieve the best possible results. This is visible in my college career, as well as in my future occupation, for without persistence a college degree and retirement would not be attainable. A consistent work ethic is seen in the prisoner in The Allegory of the Cave, as he completes a similar journey to the one Latinos traveled as they immigrated to the United States. When the Latinos first arrived, many were homeless, unemployed and struggled to feed their families; when the prisoner first reached the light he was blind, his eyes impaired by the sun, and unable to see the things he had seen before. However, after this difficult adjustment both the Latinos and the prisoner realized that their new life exceeded the one they had lived before. This realization only comes with persistence and often proceeding a great amount of work and suffering. Through the LEAP program Latinos in the United States, I not only learned about the Mexican culture and lifestyle, but I also learned of the consistent work ethic that is necessary for individual and community contentment. Persistence through hardships is not the only important quality in a liberally educated individual, as persistence through its following consequences is also essential. Many times, the proceeding consequences provide the skills and experiences necessary to find contentment in oneself and in the community. Once the Latinos and the prisoner formed new perspectives they faced ridicule in their communities: Wouldnt it be said of him that hed returned from his upward journey with his eyesight ruined and that it isnt worthwhile to even try to travel upward? And, as for anyone who tried to free them and lead them upward, if they could somehow get their hands on him, wouldnt they kill him? (Plato 46). Likewise, the Latinos faced a great amount of resentment once they settled in the United States, as they took jobs that would have been filled by Americans and consequently were looked upon as inferior. As time passes, however, these initial feelings are forgotten and they would be free to continue on with their lives: overcoming the consequences to find happiness. Through this transformation, a liberally educated citizen should be able to empathize with others: to understand that the happiness of others is crucial to ones personal fulfillment, as well as to the community. Out of the previous abilities I have discussed thus far, empathy correlates the most to my chosen career path; in ten years I see myself working at a small animal clinic treating sick animals. It is essential that I am able to emphasize with the owners and choose the best decision for the animal even if that means putting it to sleep. Empathy is an imaginative act, bringing into play the importance of right-brain thinking as depicted by Daniel Pink in his book A Whole New Mind: Empathy builds self-awareness, bonds parent to child, allows us to work together, and provides scaffolding for our morality (Pink 160). The program Invisible Children presented the repercussions of war in Sudan; an effort to empathize with the broken families, the child soldiers, and the refugee children. The documentary presented during the program was a creative way of sharing knowledge and experiences, in the hopes of bringing communities together to produce a creative solution through the feelings of empathy. The program not only showed me that teamwork is essential to success as a society, but also that individuals with unique insight and experiences can create something larger than any individual alone ever could. Ishmael Beahs A Long Way Gone directly correlates to the Invisible Children cause as the book itself promotes empathy towards all of those touched by war and its repercussions. Empathy in the context of liberal education not only brings communities together in support of a cause, it can also tear communities apart. This is usually pertinent in communities that support a controversial issue, creating intense opposing viewpoints. As seen in The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, people had to either accept the false sense of happiness or leave. The ones that stayed accepted the necessary evils; they could live at the cost of another. This compares to Beah, as well as to the rebels in Sudan who accepted that they had to kill thousands to achieve contentment. Others could not accept this lifestyle, as they were empathetic towards those who suffer: They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back (Le Guin 280). Just as Socrates in The Apology, the ones that walked away did not abide by the status quo. They acted upon what they believed to be right and did not look back. These people set themselves at a higher standard, a higher level of thinking, and became emotionally involved. This increased standard and emotion accompanies a liberally educated society for these people will produce an integrative masterpiece, full of diverse opinions and perspectives. Through empathy towards others a liberally educated community will thrive. This course has left a lasting impression on my life not only in the present, but also in the future. It has changed the way that I see the world and what is most important in life: success and happiness. I determined that throughout the transformation into a liberally educated individual, one can obtain abilities that will lead to individual fulfillment and advancement in life, as well as in the community. Although there are many skills that a liberally educated citizen acquires and accounts for everyday, I feel that the most prominent include self-initiation, personal responsibility, a balance of diversity, examination of ones origin of happiness, persistence, and the ability to empathize with others. This course initiated my transformation into a liberally educated citizen, as I have gained new insight that was only visible in the presence of both the course readings and the co-curricular events. I learned that making connections is essential, for I was able to see similarities between the in class topics and realworld situations. Through these two aspects I was able to deduce my own convictions of Liberal education. Works Cited Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Girous, 2007. Berry, Wendell.An Argument For Diversity. What Are People For. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990. Le Guin, Ursula K. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. The Winds Twelve Quarters. New York: Harper Perennial, 1975. Pink, Daniel H. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide Youll Ever Need. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2008. Pink, Daniel H. A Whole New Mind. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2005. Plato. The Allegory of the Cave. The Republic. N.p.: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1992. Plato. The Apology. The Trial and Death of Socrates. N.p.: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1974. Storm, Hyemeyohsts. "Jumping Mouse." Seven Arrows. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985. ... View Full Document

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