Italy, Travels, Adventures, and Kangaroo Shit

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Well I haven’t posted anything in this blog in a few months, but it’s 6:00 in the morning and I hear people waking up when I still haven’t gone to sleep yet. What the hell, might as well get some late night thoughts rolling. One of the reasons I didn’t stay active with this blog is because I spent some time studying in Italy. My time in Italy really lit a fire under my ass. It ignited a passion for traveling, and being around different cultures. As my mom says, “I’ve caught the travel bug.”

Italy was just the beginning though. I’m working on the plans for my next adventure over the Summer break. I’m not going to get money from my parents for this trip, so I’m looking to get a job abroad. The destinations at the top of my list are Australia or New Zealand. If I have to shovel kangaroo shit off the side off the road to pay for me to be there, then that’s what I’ll do (hopefully it doesn’t come down to that). I just need to make enough money while I’m there to cover my basic living expenses and travel. Then I’ll come back for my final year of college.

With that graduation date creeping up on me, people keep asking me what I want to do when I get out of college. I had always thought about it, but nothing on the “traditional career path” for my major ever made me excited to graduate. The mind-set I had, was a mind-set that a lot of college students have; that I need to squeeze every ounce of joy out of college before I have to grow up and go out to the real world. This made me sit down and think about what it is I want from this life. The conclusion I came up with is to say screw the traditional career path and take whatever path makes me the most happy. That’s when I looked into adventure travel guides. An adventure travel guide can lead people to do anything from kayaking the Nile, to hiking the Alps, to scuba diving in The Great Barrier Reef. Most of these jobs require you to commit to at least a year of work to hire you, which is why I might be shoveling kangaroo shit for my three month long Summer break before my senior year. That’s why I decided that post-graduation I’ll be going after my dream, and I’ll spend at least one year as an adventure travel guide.

Now I really do enjoy my major and I intend on pursuing a career in that field one day, but I will never have the chance to follow this dream of mine later in life. There’s going to be a mortgage, and a wife, and kids, and little league practice, and deadlines, and enough responsibilities to make my head explode. There’s no time like the present, and that applies doubly, triply and quadruply when you’re young enough to experiment with these things without throwing out the possibility of a long-term career. I don’t know if triply and quadruply are words, but you get my point. Youth+no responsibilities=freedom to try and find the thing that makes you truly happy. I’ve got the youth part covered, and once I graduate I’ll have nothing tying me down for the first time in my life. If you follow the formula, you can see that the sum of those two things will mean I can put my career on hold and explore the globe. I may not make as much money early on, but I know that when I’m an old man I’d like to look back at my early twenties and think about the great adventures I had rather than some cool car are a big TV.

The highway may get you to your final destination quicker, but there is just something so much more fulfilling about soaking in the world around you on a slow backroad.

-MK

The Scared White Boy Complex

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Let’s talk racism, particularly racism between white people and black people, and the scared white boy complex. What the scared white boy complex is, is the idea that white people have that all black people are these scary creatures that are out to steal and hurt all of the white people. This was me as a child. I was the definition of a scared white boy.

I grew up in your stereotypical, predominantly white, suburban town. The one big difference is that our town was right inside the borders of a county, which is about 90% black. Going to elementary school I was in my comfort zone with all my little white friends, but then came middle school. Middle school started mixing in all the kids from about 5 different elementary schools, and suddenly the scary black people were in my classes. Even then it still wasn’t all that mixed because they separated the classes by the “gifted” students and the “average” students. Most of those “gifted” kids were all the kids who came from the white elementary schools. I was still young enough at the time to be playing in pop warner football so I was still playing sports with mostly white kids. High school was a whole different animal though.

High school is really when the scared white kids had to start mingling with the scary black kids. I gave up football and started to wrestle. Like I said, I was in a county that was about 90% black, so most of the people I wrestled were black. My freshman year I was very intimidated by the black people I’d wrestle, who were usually a lot stronger than the white kids. I was a pussy back then, and got my ass beat pretty good that year. Then about halfway through my sophomore year I stopped looking as the black guys I was wrestling as the big scary black dudes, and I started viewing them just as an opponent. This is when the tables started to turn for my wrestling career, and I started doing good. Throughout the rest of the time I wrestled I wasn’t the scared little white boy that so many of my teammates were, and they weren’t scary black people to me anymore. Those guys turned into competition, practice partners, and ultimately friends. This is one of the reasons that sports like wrestling, football, basketball, and track are so great. They force people together to fight for the same goals, so that suddenly things as stupid as skin color start to become irrelevant.

The scared white boy complex does not just apply to children and teenagers though. It applies to most white people throughout America. They live in areas tucked away from all the “thugs” and “criminals”. The black people that live near them “act white”. If these white people were to actually start to interact with the so called “thugs” maybe their opinions might change. I see stuff in the news or on the internet all the time where grown men act like that scared little white boy intimidated by the black people. Maybe one day that frightened boy will grow into a man confident enough in himself to be able to look past the stereotypes.

-MK

The Value of a Human Life vs. an Animal’s Life

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I was just watching a movie where the main good guy character dies, and it didn’t really bother me. This got me thinking. Why is it that more people are upset by an animal’s death in a movie than a human’s? Think about it. Let’s take an example from a pretty popular movie; I Am Legend (by the way, spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it). There was the scene with Will Smith holding his German Shepard in his arms and singing to it, as he had to kill it before it became a zombie. Then there was scene at the end where Will Smith blows up all the zombies and himself to save the girl.  During that movie both Will Smith’s dog and Will Smith die, but which character’s death upset you more? If you’ve seen the movie, I am willing to bet that most of you would choose the scene where the German Shepard is killed. Why is it that scenes like that or Old Yeller, Marley & Me, or even the animated  Lion King get us so as Americans so upset?

Well what I think it comes down to is how desensitized we are as a society to human death nowadays. From the time we are children, in the news, movies, TV shows, video games, even cartoons there is human death all around us. In a movie or TV show humans are killed all the time for no real good reason whatsoever, but for an animal to die it usually has to have an essential purpose to the plot. Back to the I Am Legend example, the dog is killed so Will Smith is left alone for the first time and he loses his closest friend. Not very often is a dog killed in a movie just for the hell of it. The reason being because people aren’t desensitized to a dog’s death the way they are to a human’s.

I am not saying that is a bad thing that people get upset about an animal dying. I mean just look at those ASPCA commercials with the sad cats and dogs to slow music, it’s tough to watch. What the bad thing is, is the fact that the same sentiment isn’t shared towards humans. These TV show/Movie examples, paint a much bigger picture for society as a whole. It shows how we don’t want to look out for one another; we are used to seeing humans suffer.

One of the main reasons I got the idea to write this, is because of a pretty gruesome video I watched the other day. This video started with a man being held in a lion’s mouth inside of an Indian zoo. The lion eventually started more aggressively trying to kill the man and was shot and killed, while the man was nearly killed as well. While reading through the comments, everyone was so upset about the lion’s death and hardly anyone cared about the man that was about to die. This boils down to the fact that people don’t see a lion get killed everyday. I just played Call of Duty and killed about 100 people so that guy dying isn’t as big a deal.

I guess where I’m going with this is the fact that we need to start becoming more sensible about both human and animal deaths. Yes, it is sad when a dog is beaten to death, but it is also sad when somebody overdoses on drugs and dies. Honestly if I were to see pictures of both of them dead I might be more upset about the dog than the person from drugs. This is the problem and this is what I am saying needs to change. This doesn’t only apply to dogs, it applies to any animal that people put up on a pedestal and value more than a human life. One reason we as humans are so sympathetic towards animals is because we humanize them. We’ll think of our dogs as looking at us the way a child does. Those looks may be similar, but that is really just us giving a dog human characteristics to be able to relate with them. What creates that pedestal is the fact that we’re thinking of these pets on the same level as we would a human. When at the end of the day, even though it may take some time to retrain our minds, and the media makes it tough on us, we shouldn’t value an animal’s life over a human’s.

-MK