Monday, June 27, 2011

T.P.O (Taylor’s Profound Observation)

Today was the first day for class, and like most first days of class it was spent introducing the course, the structure of the course, and the students in the course. There was no Freedom and Justice lecture only a note taking lecture. I must admit I was very grateful for Professor Kramnick’s “note taking 101” lecture because I have found that the only class in high school where I fine my notes useful for studying is math and I think that is because in math we do so many example problems whereas in my other classes I just try and fill the page with my notes in artistic styles, which isn’t useful. Professor Kramnick touched on the idea that not everything he says is note worthy and that he usually gives subtle hints when he is about to say something note worthy.

After Professor Kramnick’s lecture we, the 60 Freedom and Justice students, were divided into four small discussion groups. (Joe and I happen to be in the same group because we have last names that are located relatively close to one another in the alphabet). Once we were broken into groups we met with our TA (teaching assistant). My TA is named Simon and he was born in England but is both British and Australian. I have to admit he has an amazing accent, which keeps me engaged in class not that he is boring at all. In discussion Simon had us introduce ourselves to the group and then gave an overview of what discussion was all about. He told us that we would be discussing the topics Professor Kramnick had lectured on and would be asking clarifying questions and ultimately trying to fully immerse ourselves in political thought.

Then came lunch. I finally found my burrito place. I must admit that the burritos were not amazing, nothing to write home about (even though I guess this constitutes as writing home) but nonetheless it was a burrito and I had been craving one. For people reading this who don’t know me too well I love burritos, I would say I eat burritos every day. In my house we always have burrito makings so it is a common every day snack so going without burritos for more than a day is odd for me. So I found my burrito place.

Later on we had a writing class where we were given the question: “What does Freedom mean to you?” For me this question really made me question my own definition. I had never really thought about what Freedom means; I had merely just used it in conversation and class but never had I ever been asked to define in my own words. When it came time to write down what Freedom meant to me I realized that my thoughts were mostly formed from reading George Orwell’s 1984 in my AP Lit class. I realized that the point Orwell makes through a Party slogan: “Freedom is Slavery” captured what I was thinking. I don’t want to bore you with my pessimistic views on freedom but I was happy that the first writing assignment I was giving challenged me to draw on my knowledge as a whole and form my own idea.

Off to the gym to keep in shape! Until Tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.


  1. Taylor,

    Take away a freedom and then you start to know what freedom is all about.

    Outlaw burritos and only outlaws will have burritos.

    We have some of our freedoms restricted or even outlawed on a regular basis and oftentimes we're willing to relinquish those freedoms either because we don't care enough to fight for them or we see that there's a need.

    Drug testing at the workplace is a loss of a freedom but the alternative in the world we live in today is to have coworkers under the influence.

    We've relinquished our freedom to carry nail clippers onto a plane; we've relinquished our freedom to cross a busy street anywhere we want; we've relinquished our freedom to refrain from our daily blogging--all because we understand that the consequences are unacceptable to us.

    On the other hand, we've relinquished our freedom to communicate with anyone of our choosing without our government looking over our shoulders; we've relinquished our freedom for a woman's right to choice and we've relinquished our freedom to (fill in the blank here) all because we chose not to fight for those freedoms.

    Choices have to be made but we have to ask ourselves "at what price". What is the cost for the loss of those freedoms and rights?

    We have what we believe to be fundamental freedoms and rights but we've allowed them to be eroded over the years so the concept of actually having those freedoms is now foreign to some people.

    What freedoms are you willing to give up and at what cost?

  2. Wow! Don! Very profound and very good questions to ponder the theme. I'll never forget walking around in Mexico when I was much younger and seeing the military officers on corners with their guns. It was scary coming from a place where we come and go as we please without the threat of being shot on the spot.

  3. Taylor,

    I've been thinking about this all day--maybe you can describe those burrito fixins you keep around the house.

  4. Taylor,

    Along the lines of Don's questions, think also about the systems available to a society to define, protect, and limit freedom. How much do you enshrine in a constitution and call "fundamental"? How much do you leave to the discretion of legislators to vote on so that the ebb and flow of society dictates the contours of freedom via a democratic process? Do you trust the democratic process more or less depending on the economic rules for participating in that process? This set of questions (and many more, to be sure) all flow quite immediately out of a hugely important First Amendment case that the Supreme Court decided last year - Citizens United. The case has to do with the extent to which the legislature can regulate campaign contributions, but it has (for many) troubling implications about how the democratic process will shape the freedoms we have and don't have.

    If it is all making your head spin, that's a good sign. It means you're getting it, even if it feels like it means the opposite. You assemble the tools and perspective over time, not all at once, and it is very much about the journey (as well as the destination).

    Enjoy what is one of the most singular freedom's of all - the freedom to learn and from that learning have the ability to think for yourself. It is perhaps the most important freedom of all.