Throwback Thursday: 9th Grade – A Series of Vignettes: A Writing Project / My Version of The House On Mango Street

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.

These are mostly true but very exaggerated stories as we had to emulate the tone and style of The House on Mango Street with our own autobiographical stories.


A Series of Vignettes: A Writing Project

My Version of The House On Mango Street


My House

(“The House on Mango Street”)

We moved to my house when I was about five. Through the entire moving process I screamed, kicked, and cried in protestation. But to no avail as we still moved to this house. At the time, I was an only child. But the time I was six, this was no longer the case. I got a little sister when I asked for a puppy, and the playroom got turned into a nursery much to my dismay. She got the bigger room because the front facing window made me nervous, I had watched too many movies and thought a burglar would come in at night. That never happened though.

Our house was new construction, and to me it seemed like it was on the edge of the universe because through the back fence you could see cornfields until I was about ten. A few blocks down there is a forest. I said we lived in the middle of nowhere. But we lived in a dull yellow, one-story house that I was determined to hate because I didn’t want to move. I am not the biggest fan of change.

Our house has two round, frosted windows in the front like eyes glazed over. Most of the back wall consists of rectangular windows overlooking the admittedly small backyard. The floors were tile, and seemed extra cold to my feet that up to this point had only ever lived in a place where the floors were carpet. I got used to it soon enough, but I complained constantly. Hoping this would convince my parents to let us move back to our old house.

There is no defining line in the front yard to show where our house ends and the neighbors begins. We usually end up mowing the grass because otherwise it ends up

looking like a jungle. A knee high, suburban jungle, but a jungle all the same. We have bushes right up against the wall of the house, and a tree off to the side that is perpetually overgrown. It’s too long branches sagging into the driveway. At night it forms a hand hovering over the yard. When I was younger I thought the tree looked sad, bending under the weight of its own leaves.

A lot of things changed when we moved to this house. Like the fact we were now closer to family and didn’t have to drive for so long on a daily basis anymore. And the fact I got to see my cousins more often as well. And then things changed again when my sister was born. I wasn’t an only child anymore. I changed from private to public school. The walls were repainted as well. I remember I wanted to paint my walls this bright turquoise color to match my Winx Club fairy poster. But we accidently ended up with baby blue. I sulked for days before I realized I liked this new color. We haven’t changed it since.

My house is the home I have lived in for eight years with my parents, my sister, and the pets we have had through the years. My house is one story, and is painted a pale yellow on the outside. The cornfields I used to see through the fence are now a park. And the backyard now has a pool. And my house looks different now from when we first moved in, because now my house is home.


Age Differences

(“Boys and Girls”)

My sister and I are six years apart. 1999 and 2005. Both of us born in October. Mine the 8th, and hers the 23rd. She has dishwater-blond hair like silk. And the kind of baby blue eyes newborns have, like she just never grew into her real eye color. Compared to me, my hair was brown-curls when I was her age but has turned into a light-brown/dark-blonde mass of frizz. Partially due to the humidity South Florida is famous for, part because I dyed my hair purple in middle school. My eyes used to be blue like hers and now they’re this hazel-gold-brown-green color that changes by the day.

I am almost 15. Almost old enough to drive. Almost an adult. Almost about to almost graduate. Almost about to go to college. Almost old enough to have to worry about it. She is almost 9. Almost in the fifth grade.

I’m a Libra, she’s a Scorpio.

We couldn’t be more different. We aren’t very close, but a six-year age difference will do that to you.

We are very different, but she’s my sister. And I love her.

I think that’s all that matters.


My Name

My name means “Listener”, which is funny because I love to talk. My name means unoriginal, it was one of the top five names of my birthyear. There is always at least one other girl or boy who shared my name. My name means never being told apart from those who share it. It means three tries before you get it straight which one I am. My name is Samantha. It is too long, too common, and sounds too much like an American Girl doll. I go by Sam. People say Sam is a boy’s name. I say its my name. I am only ever called Samantha by professional strangers (i.e teachers, doctors) and when I am trouble. Though in that case, I am called Samantha Aileen Bonge. My full name, middle and all.

Samantha is a mouthful. Its awkward in the mouth of non-English speaking relatives like an ill-fitting retainer. It doesn’t quite fit. They inevitably mispronounce it as Samanta, no h. The name Samantha comes from a TV I have never seen but both my parents have. The name Aileen comes from my mother’s sister, chosen because it begins with an A, and my father’s stepsisters and their daughters all have middle names beginning with A. Aileen means compromise, two families coming together. It means tradition, and forever being mistaken as my aunt’s child. As the other granddaughter, it means immutably being called Alien by kids who can’t read the Spanish name.

Bonge is a name that doesn’t exist. The sole relic left of a man I have never met, my father’s father. His name was too difficult to say in English, so it was shortened to

Bonge.
Bonge is like the name of a ghost. Maybe it existed once upon a time. Maybe it belonged to a family with twelve kids in a small Italian village. Maybe the father was fair-haired and the mother was brunette. Maybe their children were a dishwater-colored mix of the two and they shared the name. But Bonge doesn’t exist; it belongs only to the four people that live in my house. Bonge belongs to my parents, my sister, and me. Bonge sounds like a fairytale in a language you can’t read. My name is Samantha Aileen Bonge, it means listener, tradition, fairytale. But I go by Sam. And that’s me.

Street Cats

(“Cathy Queen of Cats”)

Unlike most kids who have a dog or a fish-tank, I have cats. Three of them to be exact. Max, Angel, and Jackie.

None of them are purebred. I don’t actually know what breed they are, any of them. They aren’t fancy hairless cats that everyone wants but are terrified of. They’re all rescues. They’re street cats.

Max came to our door during a thunderstorm before I was even born. He is about 16 years old now, at least in human years. He is an old, fat cat. He is diabetic as well.

Every morning my dad has to inject him with insulin. He is black and white like a checkerboard. But now his fur is slowly turning grey. He has trouble jumping up onto the bed and couch now, but it doesn’t stop him. He’s long out grown leaving dead mice as presents, but he does like to follow people around the house and hang out in the shower. He must be the only cat in existence that likes showers, running water and everything. He still hates baths though.

He doesn’t like my sister much. But he likes to sleep on my bed sometimes. My mom says he used to sleep in my crib. He’s been with us my whole life. My mom calls him

my big brother. I don’t know what I’m going to do when he’s gone. He wouldn’t be the first pet to die, but he’d be the first I’d never truly lived without. I don’t think he remembers life without me either.

We got Angel next. She’s the only girl. She’s white except for the grey on her tail and ears. Her fur is longer and fluffier than the boys’. She’s also far more antisocial than the others. She doesn’t really like anyone except me. I was maybe seven when we got her. We found her outside our church the day we went to sing for Easter. My parents wouldn’t let me pet her; worried she had rabbis and that I’d get filthy. I begged and begged to take her home. I felt bad for her all alone, little kids throwing chunks of granola bars and pebbles at her. She’s about 8-years old now, maybe 9. She was black with dirt and grime when we found her. Like the monster from black lagoon from that kids book. Skinny like a skeleton too. But I named her Angel before I ever knew the color of her fur.

Of course, she took some time to get used to our house. She’d hide under beds. Refuse to eat if anyone was anyone near her. She tore things up at night with her claws and teeth. I woke up on day to find the remains of foam blocks everywhere like a rainbow threw-up. She liked to bring us present too. Rats, lizards, small snakes, dragonflies. You name it. Their dead corpses haunted the hallways.

But she calmed down eventually. But before then, she managed to break her leg by getting it caught on a tablecloth. It was wrapped up in a green cast for a few weeks. We stopped using tablecloths after that.

Max took to having a “little sister” fairly well. He took care of her. He also once got in a fight because of her. With a real street cat that tried attacking her. My dad had to

rescue Max. It was scary. But kind of cute too.

The last of the cats is Jack. He’s orange with brownish stripes. Like a perpetually infant tiger cub. I had wanted to name him Simba or Tiger. But my dad nixed those ideas right away. I was famous for awful names. So we picked Jack and that was the end of it, Jack was more my sister’s cat. She calls him Jackie. He’s the one that gets struck on the roof and drags bats and dying birds into the house. We got him from the FurBaby adoption thing at PetCo, he was going to be put down. His name had been Prancer, because his entire litter was named after Santa’s reindeer. I think that’s why he loves the roof so much.

He’s about 5 or 6 now. He’s smaller than the other two. But still bigger than when e got him. He’s fully grown now. He’s the one that attacks for feet under the covers and sleeps on the pillow next to your head. Guarding you through the night.


Blood is Thicker than Water

(“Louie, his Cousin, and his Other Cousin”)

Most people don’t really understand the phrase “Blood is thicker than Water”. It comes from a longer quote, “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”. Most people see the first and know it means that family is the most important bond. But according to the second, the bonds you chose to form (i.e. Friends), are stronger than those forged by familial ties.

I like to think of it as saying some ties you make are more important than the ones we are born into. That there is something more to family than just sharing blood. Like marriage for example, you chose to form that bond.

I am very close to my maternal grandparents, very close to some of my cousins. But I am also very close to some family members to whom I am not strictly related to. With whom I do not share a single drop of blood.

Like my Mama Rosario. Who is not my mother or stepmother, but rather my grandmother’s best friend of almost sixty years. She practically raised me. She and my

grandmother have been friends since they were six years old in Cuba. For all intents and purposes, she is family. Though we are not really related.

Or take my tia Lily. She bought the blanket they wrapped me in when they brought me home from the hospital. Her daughter Alejandra calls me cousin Sammy. And yet I am not related to her. But she has been my mom’s best friend for about 20 years.

I am a firm believer in the fact that family can be more than blood.

Because of this, I have more cousins than I can count.


Here Not Everywhere

(“Those Who Don’t”)

I have always lived in or at the very least near Miami. We moved to Miami from Miami Lakes. Those are the only two places I’ve lived. In those two houses. I have never even left the East Coast. At least, not that I can remember.

Miami is a big city, even when you live in the suburb type neighborhoods like Kendall. Here we do not talk to our neighbors. We do not send children outside to play alone even for a minute. You don’t walk home alone, especially at night. Not even if it’s a block away.

Here, flip-flops in winter are acceptable.

Here, we roll our eyes at tourists who squeal at the sight of the beach, because we are all so bored of sand and waves.

Here, we scoff at sunblock and silently suffer sunburns because we are too used to it to be bothered by the red peeling skin.

Here, humidity is never less than 50%. And the temperature dropping below seventy degrees means its time to break out the sweatshirts and boots. It might as well be snowing. Most people here haven’t seen snow once. Haven’t even seen the leaves change colors. But ask any Ten-year-old and they could tell you exactly when its safe and when its not to be outside during a thunderstorm. Because why should a little bit of rain stop us from running errands. Because you’ve never seen a rainstorm until you’ve seen the 15-minute flash flood Miami gives you. There’ll be water up to your knees.

Here, almost everyone speaks Spanish. And no one looks at you twice if you switch languages half way through a sentence.

Forgetting a word in one language, or only knowing it in Spanish is commonly accepted.

But anywhere else, a bathing suit any where but the pool is out of place. As is a sweater when it’s hotter than 50 degrees.

Anywhere else, forgetting how to say something in English makes people think you hit our head and are speaking in tongues.

But remember, anywhere else, there’s always someone who has never seen the ocean. Never been to Disneyworld.

Everywhere is different. And Miami is sort of messed up. But so is anywhere else. But Miami is home. No matter where we end up going to college.

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Throwback Thursday: Fairchild Project (5th Grade?)

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.



Vicaria Blanca

(Catharanthus roseus)

(Madagascar periwinkle)

Ever been in history class and found it weird that people didn’t have medicine all those years ago, and died from common diseases? You’d think that they form of medicine didn’t work, but actually, some of those methods are still used today, and some people think they work better the usual run of the mill medicine we all use! The elder I interviewed for this project on the use of plants, as medicine was my grandfather, Jose Rios. He was born and raised in Cuba, where he met my grandmother and had his three children, my uncle, my mother, and aunt. They moved to Miami, Florida when he was forty years old in 1980, and has been here ever since. He speaks primarily Spanish and can understand English, though when he speaks it, it’s heavily accented and usually has butchered grammar. He is now 72, and he cares for my younger sister and me after school everyday.

When I interviewed him, he told me he uses Vicaria Blanca (White Vicaria) to treat pink eye, and other problems. He’s been using it since he was a child, when his grandmother used it on him and taught him how to use it. He told me that to use it, you boil the flower bowling in water, into a type of tea looking liquid, greenish-yellow in color. You then use it as eye drops or wet a napkin with it and hold it on the eye. He’s been using it for over 50 years and says it’s worked for him every time. He says he prefers to use this then over the counter eye drops because it has the natural vitamins and has less chemicals, which makes it good to use on small children and adults.

Based on the research done by the University of Florida Herbarium, Vicaria Blanca is useful for treating eye infections. Based on a study in 1995, the drops made from boiling the flower in water does help your vision. And according to Wikipedia, Vicaria Blanca, a type of Madagascar Periwinkle commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many things, including: diabetes, malaria, Hodgkin’s disease, and well as some extracted substances used to treat leukemia. On the other side however, if ingested orally, it can be fatal and if not, it causes hallucinations. So, if used on children, it should under supervision.

What I’ve learned from this, is that plants can be used as medicine just as they did thousands of years ago, and that, though I hadn’t known it, my grandfather has been using it on me since I was an infant. It seems odd that people would still use these things, but they do, I’ve also learned that they still use poisonous plants…at least people don’t poison themselves anymore!

Cited: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/scripts/dbs/herbs_project/herbsproject/herbs_pub_proc.asp?accno=215543&FamSys=A&output_style=Report_type&trys=2

Throwback Thursday: Poetry Comparison Angelou/Hughes

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


With ironic diction and differing rhyme scheme, both “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes convey the relationship, particularly for African-Americans, between being an individual and conforming to society. Irony plays a large role, contrasting expectations and realities of individuals in society.

Much of the message of a poem comes from the structure and rhyme scheme. For both poems, “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, this holds true. “Harlem Hopscotch” uses an AABBCC etc. rhyme scheme, resembling a child’s rhyming game much like hopscotch, conveying how even child can feel the pressure of society to conform. The poem is fourteen lines, like a sonnet but the rhyme scheme differs from traditional sonnet rhyme schemes, showing level of conformity to traditional poetry while introducing individual style, much as Maya Angelou is showing the balance in the relationship between individualism and conformity to society for acceptance, a delicate balance for many African-Americans. Childish things like hopscotch are often seen as unimportant or of less merit and Angelou bringing it to the center is unexpected and thus ironic. Compared to “Harlem Hopscotch”, Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B” is a free-verse poem. “Theme for English B” details an assignment he was given – likely intended to be a page of prose – that he instead turns into a free-verse poem, implying he will do the assignment, he will follow instructions (e.g. writing a page) but he will do things his own way (e.g. writing a free-verse poem, no typical structure or rhyme scheme). This shows how Hughes is retaining individuality, even as he writes about not being so inherently different from his white instructor and classmates.

Both poems, “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, use irony to give their message of the struggle to be an individual and conform to society all at once. For many African-Americans, conformity to society was a blow to individuality and dehumanizing, but also necessary. Beyond the structure and rhyme scheme of the poems, there is irony in the language. Maya Angelou shows this in “Harlem Hopscotch”, the poem details a child’s game, but also tackles serious issues like “the rent is due” which are not generally associated with children. The game is society – everybody plays but some have an easier time of it than others. There are different experiences due to skin color, and as shown in the last line “They think I lost. I think I won.” There is also a difference in outcome by difference of perception. Society may think they can beat her, but she will remain her own individual. The irony in the language of “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes is more blatant. Hughes mentions being different and standing out due to being colored, but spends the majority of the poem pointing out similar he is to his white instructor and peers, with lines like “I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.” Hughes stands his ground that he is not as different as others may want to believe due to his skin color, but he will retain his individuality. With lines such as “nor do I often want to be a part of you” he rejects dehumanizing conformity – just as he has likely been rejected from places and opportunities due to his skin color.

For African-Americans there was a delicate balance to be struck between individuality and conforming to society, which was often dehumanizing, but also the way to survive. This theme is seen in both “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes. There is irony, in that many thought of them as less capable due to their skin color, when they clearly aren’t. Their experiences and struggles were different, and portrayed through both the structure and language of their poems. The simple act of writing these poems could be considered a way of rebelling against dehumanizing conformity, and expressing individual thought.

Hamlet “Perfect” Intros

Pre-AP Lit test, I’m posting some old school-work. Maybe it’ll help someone else out?

Also, don’t use my work as your own, teachers have plagiarism checkers.


Prompt 1 (2001)

One definition of madness is “mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it.” But Emily Dickenson once wrote, “much madness is divinest sense – / To a discerning eye – …” Novelists and playwrights often have seen madness with a “discerning eye.” Show how the apparent madness or delusional behavior of a character in Hamlet plays an important role. Write an essay in which you explain what the eccentric behavior consists of and how it may be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the “madness” to the work as a whole without merely summarizing plot.

A primary part of Hamlet’s revenge plot against Claudius in Hamlet by William Shakespeare is pretending to be mad, and luring Claudius into a false sense of security. Hamlet’s artificial madness begins to appear true, as he speaks to his father’s ghost, which his mother cannot see or hear; though he claims to be of sound mind, he gets more desperate as the play moves along. His madness manifests mainly in his dialogue with Polonius and others, and is explained as heartbreak over Ophelia’s rejection, when really, it is a ploy to murder Claudius and save him father’s doomed soul from purgatory.


Prompt 2 (2000)

Many works not readily identified with mystery or detective genre literature nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of investigation. Identify a mystery in Hamlet and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole without merely summarizing plot.

Hamlet’s pretend madness stems from a wish to be underestimated, in order to investigate the claims of his father’s specter that Claudius had murdered him in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. King Hamlet’s death was a great mystery to his son, and verifying the specter’s claims, before killing Claudius in revenge is Hamlet’s main goal in pretended to be mad, an artifice that slowly begins leading him deeper into his own madness, consumed by his investigation of Claudius, and unable to bring himself to act until his last moments.


Prompt 3 (1988)

In many distinguished novels and plays some of the most significant events are mental or psychological – for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a well-organized essay, describe, describe how Shakespeare managers to give such an internal event or events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action in Hamlet. Do not merely summarize plot.

With vivid imagery and deeply affecting metaphor, Hamlet has a pivotal, emotional, and nearly entirely mental scene as he delivers his “To be or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Physically in this scene, Hamlet is alone in a room with his thoughts, but internally he grapples with the nature of life and death, contemplating suicide and the fate of his immortal soul. Ultimately, after this scene is when Hamlet finally begins to act, having decided to live, after an arduous battle with his own consciousness, and do what needs to be done.


Prompt 4 (1994)

In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly or not at all is a significant presence. Show how such a character functions in Hamlet, discussing how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid merely summarizing plot.

Hamlet the king, though only appearing in two scenes throughout the play of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, is the driving force of the play. His ghost speaks to the titular Hamlet, the prince, encouraging revenge for his murder and thus beginning Hamlet’s long, deliberative revenge plot, the very essence of the play. King Hamlet’s ghost guides Prince Hamlet’s actions, including Claudius’s murder, and serves to heighten his madness when Gertrude cannot see the specter her son claims is his father. Though appearing briefly, King Hamlet is Prince Hamlet’s motivation in everything he does throughout the course of the play, a literal ghost of the past hanging over his head.

Throwback Thursday: Ethics of Incentives for Charitable Giving

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Ethicality is determined by what is right for the most number of people, what is good for the majority. When considering the offering of incentives for charitable acts, such incentives are ethical in being offered as it is virtually impossible to do anything without some form of incentive, whether it be physical or emotional. The incentivizing of charity increases instances of giving – creating a sum total of good for more people.

There is no action taken without motivation, and motivation comes from incentive in some way, shape, or form, whether it be in the form of a physical good – such as a t-shirt or water bottle, or something intangible – such as absolution of guilt for not giving or personal pride in aiding the community; incentives drive charity. Even the world’s first modern charity was not excluded from this incentivizing. The Salvation Army began in Britain in the 19th century, before coming to America. The original goal of the charity wasn’t charity at all – it was the spreading of the word of God. The incentive for charity for the Salvation Army was the strengthening of the protestant church by making charity synonymous with Christianity in the eyes of the poor. While incentivized, the act of charity is not lessened. Still today, the Salvation Army is a model for other charities to follow, and is well respected for the good it does, helping the impoverished gain access to basic necessities, such as shelter, clothing, and food. The incentives given do not lessen the need or outcome of charity, but can encourage an increased prevalence of giving, meaning incentives add to charity, and doesn’t detract from it.

Incentives for charity are offered to encourage charity. Many people are so far removed from the issues charities work to solve that going out of one’s way to provide to charity is not often even thought-of. Charities raise awareness for social issues by giving incentives to give. A common form of incentive offered by charities today is sending address labels customized for individuals who either previously donated, or are a part of the demographic likely to donate. This gives people a personal connection to the charity, and may encourage them to give when they otherwise wouldn’t have thought to; sometimes giving becomes a habit for people, and the incentive becomes negligible. Incentives can encourage more people to give, increasing the strength, reach and overall good the charity can achieve and provide. The presence of incentives does not need to negate the idea of giving or that it can be heartfelt; incentives instead, raise awareness in a way that pushes from passive acceptance of fact – that there are people who need help, to actual taking action to give to the community. Incentives such as address labels are often of insignificant cost to the charity, but can bring in an exponentially greater amount of donations, helping charities and making donors feel appreciated in the process. Thus, more people can be helped when more donations are made, and there is a sum total of good provided, far stronger, and worth far more than the cost of any incentive able to be given, physical or otherwise.

There is a fear, that incentives gives a false reason for charity and thus should be considered unethical, but incentives are always present. The incentive of spreading religion being the first – dating back to the first modern charity, the Salvation Army; the incentive of address labels sent by charities today that raise awareness and encourages those who wouldn’t ordinarily think of it, to donate to charity. The presence of these incentives does not negate the act of charity or its good in society, but rather, can create an exponential increase in the amount of charity given and good able to be done. Whether or not incentives for charity is deemed personally wrong, it is ethically sound as the charity benefits a greater number of needy recipients; those giving charity and thus receiving incentives are no worse for it, are in fact rewarded and encouraged to continue charitable efforts, even without later incentives oftentimes – creating a sum total of good and positive effects.

Throwback Thursday: Certainty and Doubt Essay

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Certainty: To be absolute and steadfast in belief, in oneself or the world at large.     Doubt: To be skeptical or waver in belief, in oneself or the world at large. Parallels in definition. When there is absolute certainty, there is no doubt, but if the absence of doubt was not quantified, then to be certain would not exist either. Each cannot stand alone, they exist in relation to one another. A certain fact is only concrete when all doubt has been extinguished; opinions cannot be certain if even minimal doubt exists in one mind. Two sides of the same coin: That is the relationship between certainty and doubt, because neither can exist without the other; existing in the spaces between each other.

Without the concept of doubt, there would be no certainty. Without the ability to be certain, there would be no need to name the concept of doubt. Just as without darkness, the concept of light would not exist. If only darkness were to exist, it would not be darkness, it would simply be the way things were, likewise, light is comparative. If darkness did not exist, light would need not be named either. There are in inverse-relation. Similar is the existence of certainty and doubt; you can have both simultaneously to varying degrees, or one entirely, but you are always aware of the other’s existence, or potential for existence. You can be mostly certain, with lingering doubt, you can be mostly doubtful with faith in some minor degree of certainty, but the capacity for the other to take over is what gives meaning to the quantification of either.

The theory of gravity was held in doubt for a long time; how could we be certain of something we could not see? We need not be certain of the concept of gravity, as whether or not we are, we have no doubt on whether things will fall. The doubt of gravity was tested vigorously, and when the result stayed consistent – an apple falls, everything eventually falls – most of that doubt was replaced by certainty, the certainty that gravity exists because its physical manifestation is consistent, but there is always a minuscule, lingering doubt, as gravity with never be tangible thing; hence the “theory of gravity” because termed a theory. We are able to be certain, because you understand said certainty in relation to past doubt. Certainty and doubt are co-dependent concepts.

Nothing in this world exists in a vacuum. Just as day does not exist without night, certainty and doubt, as opposites – two sides of the same coin – exist in relation to the other. Certainty and doubt are a zero sum equation – you cannot become more certain without becoming less doubtful as well, or vise-versa. They either co-exist, or neither exists, each defined by the absence or potential presence of the other.


 

Throwback Thursday – Argumentative Essay: Distinction Between Disagreement and Dissent

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Democracy is founded on the view that the majority is “right”. Inherent to this, is the presence of opposing viewpoints – the minority is heard, acknowledged, and compromised with – but the majority wins out. The key to democracy with these opposing views, is allowing for disagreement – which can further progress and change through compromise between differing views – but not allowing disagreement to fester into dissent, where there is an irrevocable separation of views and an unwillingness to compromise on opposing ideals, putting discussion and progress at an impasse; creating a minority unwilling to concede to the majority, a view inherently against democracy. This distinction between disagreement and dissent can be seen throughout American history, and has further implications in modern political discourse.

This distinction can be seen throughout American history; take for example, the discussion of slavery throughout early American history. Originally, slavery incited disagreements between states, on both its legality and on slave representation, but disagreements can still foster an environment of peace and encourage democracy, as compromises can be made. Compromises such as the 3/5ths compromise which brokered peace between the Northern and Southern states concerning slave population representation – in that for every 5 slaves, 3 would be added to the state’s population count, increasing the number of votes in the House of Representatives – and The Missouri Compromise, which certified slavery legal in the south and illegal in the north – by establishing all territory and states south of the 36’ parallel open to slavery, and all territory north closed to slavery. Each of these compromises appeased the citizens and politician for a time, allowing other legislature to be focused on, furthering industry, commerce, and other governmental powers. Compromises such as these allowed for society and the country to progress economically, politically and socially despite disagreement, as progress should as interstate commerce and railroads became possible. Disagreements can foster democracy. However, as the growing tensions of slavery were ignored from the 1820’s to 1840’s, disagreements began to brew into dissent. Fighting broke out, manifesting as both pseudo-war in “Bleeding Kansas” – a skirmish between pro- and anti- slavery groups looking to claim the Kansas territory as a future slave or free state in their favor, leading directly up to the Civil War – and in a public caning in congress, legislature could not be passed, it was too late to make a compromise, Southern states seceded, and The Civil War broke out. By the time the country had split, and southern politicians had defected to form their own government, neither compromise nor peace was possible. Dissent pervaded quickly, nearly tore the nation apart, and for several years, democracy and the entire country were in jeopardy. While disagreement over slavery could build a nation despite it, dissent destroyed said nation.

After The Civil War, dissent atrophied back into disagreement. Southern states were brought back to the Union, eliminating the key element of total separation common for dissent, in order to come back to, rather than dissent, a state of disagreement. Things weren’t perfect, but even a state of extreme prejudice and disagreement enabled great changes and progress. Throughout this time, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were able to be passed – granting rights to African Americans, such as the end of slavery, citizenship with its full protections, and the right to vote. While this may not have been unanimously agreed on, the state of disagreement still functioned in society, evening allowing for reconstruction to take place in the South, building up industry and infrastructure. The overall progress able to be achieved in disagreement is seen cumulatively in the Civil Rights Act. The nation was divided on issues of segregation and civil liberties for people of color, compromises made for the induction of the south back to the union nearly 100 years prior. Had groups allowed themselves to stay separated, had further sequestered themselves politically, not rights would have been accomplished in such dissent, but in disagreement, there is an inherent fight to reach an agreement, and that agreement eventually was The Civil Rights Act of the 1960’s. The key is, that despite continued racial tensions and presence of the same opposing views as before The Civil War, the country was no longer in a state where all communication between viewpoints has broken down into dissention. Disagreements can still allow for a healthy society and progress, but dissention can kill it.

Even today, political discourse is common. Disagreements, especially the heartier ones, may not be enjoyable, but they are preferable to complete dissent. Disagreements, major or minor, are still reconcilable by nature. It is when disagreements are allowed to fester, and views allowed to polarize, to the extent of dissent, that there is an issue, because once a point of dissent is reached, it is very difficult to reign it in, and reach a state of peace once more, as normal methods of problem solving are rendered useless, and compromise inviable. Dissent is a progression of disagreement, left to an untamable extreme. While contention is never favorable, democracy can thrive in disagreement, its “life-blood” (per. Daniel Boorstin), but is choked off in dissent. When disagreements are left unchecked, or ignored, they may segue into dissent, where either side may become so entrenched in their ideal, that any original willingness to compromise may fade, leading to dissent and halting progress, breaking down the avenue by which democracy functions: compromise.