Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Understanding and Betterment of oneself and Others

            All literary works, Mending Wall by Robert Frost, Learning to Read by Frances E. Harper, Accident, Mass. Ave. by Jill McDonough and “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” by Peter-Han Kolvenbach all share the common want for all people to respect and better themselves and others. The first poem Mending Wall focuses on the concern for your neighbors, respecting their wants and opinions and understanding why they want such things. Learning to Read focuses on the idea that even when others hinder your advancement, having personal will power to perceiver for the betterment of oneself is more important. Accident, Mass. Ave. focuses on how people interact daily and the patience we must acquire in order to deal with certain situations. It also focuses on forgiveness and understanding. Finally Kolvenbach’s “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” ties all of these aspects of respect, understanding and the betterment of oneself and others all together through they way in which it is looked at in Jesuit Education.  At tonight’s presentation by Stephen Graham Jones, not all of the works he recited related to this position of understanding and bettering oneself, however one of his final readings did. It was a story about a zombie attack and they way in that you could save yourself from the zombies. While the story was extremely vivid the final moments of the story were what really got to me. At the end of the story the main characters son is dying but dying happily. His reason for dying happily? He knew that what he had done and sacrificed saved his father and he was happy dying knowing that.
            Robert Frost’s Mending Wall is a poem about two neighbors and the annual repair of the wall that separates their property. The speaker however sees no use for this wall. His neighbor on the other hand believes “Good fences make good neighbors,”(Poetry 360).  Frost does not understand why the wall is needed because they have no cattle or anything that would overstep their property boundaries. The neighbor is not concerned with the overstepping of property lines but believes in the need for personal space and boundaries.
            In Harper’s Learning to Read the slaves were deprived of an education as were they deprived of everything else. Although “ [Their] masters always tried to hide Book learning from [their] eyes;” it did not stop the slaves from wanting to better themselves. This particular slave who is the speaker in the poem uses the Bible as her way of educating herself although she is old and everyone tells her it is too late. This poem is an inspiration to those who do not have access to the right materials to better themselves whether it be in education or just in everyday life. It proves that even when the odds are against you, you can still perceiver and overcome anything.
            Jill McDonough’s Accident, Mass. Ave. is a comical yet informative poem about human nature. The two women in the poem get into a small “fender bender” where no damage was done. Yet the women’s car, which was hit, overreacts. When the woman realizes no real damage was done to her car, she quickly turns to console the women she previously insulted. It shows us that as humans we over react in the heat of the moment but when we take a step back and realize what has actually happened understanding and positive emotion is the way in which to approach a situation.
            The zombie story Mr. Jones told us touches briefly on the concept of betterment of oneself and of others. The son dying in the end because he sacrificed his life for his father shows the selflessness within him. He tried to save himself and his father but could not do both and he gave up living for his father. He reached that stage in his life where he was content with everything he has done and it shows that’s how we should all die; knowing that we made a difference and accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish.

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