There are forces in our world that go unseen. One of these non-physical forces is the power of belief. Everyone believes something. A recent series of museum trips left me thinking about what makes people believe, why some beliefs are more reasonable, and the believer’s interaction with other people. In the space of about a week, I visited an exhibit about religious relics at the Art Museum, the OSU Geological Museum, and The Creation Museum. All three were examples of how faith works. Each expressed its own form of belief. I learned a lot from them.

The first museum was the Art Museum here in Cleveland. Their current special exhibit is entitled “Treasures of Heaven” and is an extensive display of medieval holy relics. The exhibit explained that the relics were intended to bring devout Christians closer to their God. They needed a physical reminder of the holiness of God, and the only way they could do so was to preserve the dead bodies of people or things that were alleged to be saint-like or blessed.  At the time, there was no way of proving that the bone or tooth was really the alleged person’s. Their belief was in the holiness of the object. Pilgrims were occasionally lied to by people who wanted to bring money to their town. But still the pilgrims believed, despite this possibility. The atmosphere at the art museum was informative and undemanding. Even if you didn’t share that faith, you could still enjoy the exhibit. You were not required to believe.

The second museum was the minuscule Ohio State University Geological Museum. Tucked away in the geology building, the atmosphere was anything but threatening. The caretaker seemed to be a busy old man. We were the only visitors yet that day.  It was only one room, but had a lot of information, many charts, and plenty of artifacts. One of the most interesting things I noticed was that they showed the difference between real fossils and fake fossils. They were willing to tell you when things were fake, and when they had real items, they told you how they knew. They gave information about the ways that they got their facts. The museum gave clear ideas and physical evidence that supported their belief in the Evolution theory and in the oldness of the Earth.

The final museum was the famous Creation Museum in Kentucky. I knew beforehand that their beliefs were very different from my own and I had heard that the museum itself was a little absurd, so I prepared myself to not laugh. Unfortunately, the experience was very different from what I expected. The atmosphere was scary, threatening. They have their own police force and K9 unit. According to an outside observer (my mom) I was visibly uncomfortable and nervous. Creationists believe in the literal truth of the Bible. All other ideas are deemed evil. In a series of videos and plaques, they literally stated that non-believers are going to hell. Their “science” was gibberish, almost impossible to read, or simply not mentioned at all. They didn’t give straight facts. It seemed like their only reason for the Evolution theory being wrong was that they believed they were right. Even their slogan, “Prepare to Believe”, forced belief upon you.

The very first room was about two scientists, one who believed in Evolution, and one who believed in Creationism. The creationist stated that they formed different conclusions because they started at different places, but the museum barely explores that other viewpoint. You are expected to already share their ideas. Also, the museum was extremely over-stimulating, because of the excessive number of animatronics, videos, and sound effects too closely packed together. The one good thing they mentioned was that we all need to take care of the Earth (accompanied by a picture of a recycling bin) and each other, but even that was hypocritical, seeing as we couldn’t find any recycling bins in the building and the angry view toward non-believers was obviously not taking care of their fellow humans. They offer almost nothing to solidly support their beliefs.

I suppose belief doesn’t necessarily require physical evidence to support it, but believers should have reasons for believing what they do. The three museums were very different, both in approach and in content, but they had the same fundamental idea. All three wanted to spread information about a faith. I respect each museum for different reasons. The Art Museum was commendable for being neutral, calm, and very informative. They didn’t demand anything of the visitor. The Geological Museum was quietly knowledgeable. They gave reasons for their belief, and backed them up with evidence. The Creation museum’s only reason for respect is that they gave their opinion without hesitation or any sort of self-consciousness. All other aspects of the museum were unrespectable. So, in conclusion, there are many different types of belief. There are loud, in-your-face kinds, and more subdued quiet beliefs. Some beliefs demand that you believe as well, and others live and let live. Belief is in everyone. It is just how we choose to express that makes it different for all of us.

 

September 11th was the ninth anniversary of the Twin Towers disaster and Ground Zero is still sore.  A proposed “ mosque “ and Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero, about two blocks away, is igniting passions, and the result is extreme heat all over the country. The controversy is about more than a few angry individuals. It is about the United States’ ability to forgive a culture. Everyone seems to have an opinion and they vary from angry to calm, from illogical to well-reasoned. Everyone from politicians to blue-collar workers are shouting to be heard.  With so many opinions, reaching a peaceful conclusion seems impossible.

The president, Barack Obama, seems to want to remain neutral. He hasn’t given very many statements regarding the center, and those that he did give were non-conclusive. For other politicians, however, the topic has become an election platform and a debate topic. Stating your opinion about the center has become a way to get votes or gain favor with like-minded individuals. The hot topic is keeping all levels of the government on their toes.

Regular people from all over the country have many different opinions. Some express them loudly, forming protests and writing angry letters to the editor. There are some who are under the impression that all Muslim activities are dangerous and that having gatherings of Muslims near the site of 9/11 is desecrating it. They protest that if the center is allowed there, that we are supporting terrorist behaviors. On the other side of the spectrum, people cry out that the center is protected by the first amendment. Shouting matches online, offline, and sometimes both are only adding tender to the flames.

I’ve personally formed some opinions regarding the Islamic Cultural Center. The terrorists that crashed into the Twin Towers were hateful, prejudice, extremists. By prohibiting the prayer room and center, we too would be hateful and prejudice. Children grow up thinking Muslims are evil creatures who are not at all upset for what a few extreme members of their religion did to scar a nation. If American people learned more about Islamic culture and religion, perhaps they would be more understanding. I think that America, as a country, like to think of herself as a strong world leader, but underneath that, we are just a paranoid, uninformed, mess.

I truly love living in America and believe the majority of Americans are good people, but the few that remain angry and scared are bringing the rest of us down with them. It’s true that Ground Zero is a sensitive spot, but all the protests and fights are a little much for an Islamic Culture Center and Prayer Room two blocks away from the site. Being accepting of all cultures races and religions is part of the reason America is the “Land of the Free”. Innocent Muslims are still paying for actions they did not cause, like, or participate in. A few of these Muslims gather at Ground Zero to pay homage to the many Muslim people who died in the towers when they came down. And the sooner we forgive, the sooner those people’s deaths are avenged.

 

On October 13, 2010, Chile, along with much of the world, breathed a sigh of relief. All 33 miners who had been trapped in a Chilean gold and copper mine since August 5, 2010, were successfully brought out of the earth and into the open desert. They smiled for the cameras, hugged family members, maybe cried a little, and went home. The play they had been the main actors in was coming to a close. All around them, the supporting cast was packing up too. They had given their all into this production for almost two and a half months, putting out their souls for everyone to see and rely on. Every actor in this little saga was feeding lines to each other, and gave each other support when some were forced front and center by circumstance. Instead of a character drama, it was an ensemble piece, where all the players contributed something.

Right after the collapse went public, volunteers poured into the area. Paying that number of people would have been difficult, but instead of demanding compensation, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They knew it was going to be a long hard job ahead of them, but the majority stayed and stuck it out, facing every challenge head-on.  The miners needed food as soon as possible or they would have starved or become dehydrated so volunteers started cooking and sending out the hundreds of meals the men and their worried families required, and even figured out a way to send the men hot food.  Volunteers comforted, built, donated, and did all the other small but necessary tasks required. The love the trapped miners got was tangible in the work tents, equipment, manpower, and donations they received daily.

Many other jobs done by professionals were required also. Supply tubes that were planned by engineers and built by construction workers were dug first, so that the men could receive necessary supplies. Nutritionists kept track of every calorie, every vitamin, and every supplement the miners ate. Psychologists monitored mood swings, all emotions, and everything the miners did or said to make sure they were not depressed. Doctors and nurses gave medical information, first aid advice, and the necessary attention when the men were rescued. A few brave souls were sent down the rescue tube to prepare the miners for rescue, full knowing that they, themselves, could die in a support failure or get stuck halfway. They were just doing their jobs, but it took dedication to not quit, to not give up, even when it was predicted that it could take many more months to successfully complete the rescue.

The prayers of thousands, even millions, went to the trapped miners. Of course, their own families, friends, and neighbors prayed for them to get out safely.  But perfect strangers from all over the world- people who talked, lived, and looked different from them, people who had never met them and probably never would- also prayed for their speedy rescue. Their hearts went out to them, in the same way they went out to Haiti, New Orleans, and to many other people who were victims of things they couldn’t control. They were not, could not be, individually recognized, and yet they knew that every time they asked God to help, every time they read a news story about it, they were helping, even in the tiniest way.

Finally, there are the men who were trapped together for two long months. The men who could have turned into animals, but managed to keep it together even when things seemed bleak. They supported each other, laughed, prayed, ate together. They followed routine, worked together, didn’t let any differences get in the way of rescue. Each had something to contribute, a special skill that they alone had. If they had given up on each other, some may not have survived. If one grew depressed, the others cheered him up. If when fell sick the others got him the things he needed to get better. They became almost a family, it seems like. There were a few who used their skills more often, like the man who took care of all medical problems, or the man who created the groups of men and the jobs each group did. They were, of course, instrumental to the groups survival, but weren’t the only solo’s in the song. Each man went to bed at night confident that he had done something that day that got them one foot closer to the surface. Every man in that dark, cramped, cold pit knew that the people around him were people he could rely on.

People need people. Without all the people who had pitched in, this drama could have easily have become a tragedy. Every person there in Chile, underground in the mine, and every person around the world who watched, prayed, and worked, gave each other reasons not to give up. The people who were onstage, in the spotlight, or behind the scenes, encouraged the main characters throughout the whole play. Humans rely on and give back support every day. We are all actors, and as we all should know, no production can succeed with just one person.

 

Stories have an amazing ability to affect huge numbers of people. Gossip and urban legends are common now, but back in times when the world was not as well understood, more fanciful stories were thought up as explanation for seemingly unexplainable occurrences. An example of this would be the creation of fairies. For centuries, stories of the elusive, ethereal creatures have delighted and mystified. The over-all love/hate of this creation has not waivered much with time, despite extreme changes in it. Fairies, a sort of improbable story, affect thousands, if not millions of people.

There are fairy stories from all over the world, but one of the places with the widest variety and, perhaps, strongest belief in fairies is the United Kingdom. Stories of “little people” abound in England, Scotland, and Ireland. These fairies are alternately mischievous and helpful. When good things happened, like a good harvest or a healthy baby, elves and brownies were said to have helped in return for a good deed. When milk soured or bones broke, the family was being punished. Most of these tales are no longer believed and the majority of people don’t blame all changes of fortune on fairy folk anymore, but these stories are still told, written down, and spread around.

Disneyfied fairies, like Peter Pan’s Tinker Bell, are creating new generations of fairy believers, though most stories are dismissed as “little kid stuff” when the child gets older. Media, no longer oral tradition, now spreads fairy tales in the form of movies and picture books. Magic, though it used to be a thing grandparents told their grandchildren about, is now prattled about by exited toddlers to their mothers while walking through the supermarket. The dream of every little girl is to be a princess with their own fairy godmother to watch over them.

Like most young, female Americans, I have been exposed to the concept of fairies pretty much my whole life. Like with princesses, the tiny waists and huge busts have always been something for little girls to achieve. Whet fairies are today is not at all like the descriptions of the “little people” in older legends. How twisted the stories have become! Instead of fat, ruddy, dirty creatures, fairy folk are now delicate, perfect, miniature, pastel humans. Instead of wreaking havoc, they talk of friendship and true love. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just different. As the stories have gotten older and more widespread, they have become confused.

This change, becoming more confused with age, isn’t just with fairies. Interpretations of the Bill of Rights, old treaties, and just plain old gossip all get muddled as time goes on. And yet they go right on working. Wars start. Economies and friendships collapse. People’s lives are changed. All with a little bit of writing, a story, a text. Who knows what we will create next that will change the way we live, who we all are, as a world. The ability of a story to change us is truly amazing.

 

Have you noticed how much noise there is in our world? Be it yelling, music, or constant chatter, our culture is a very noisy one. Few people appreciate silence. In my opinion, times of silence hold great meaning. They are perfect times to think. Instead of pushing it away, we should embrace silence.

As the Grinch says, “All that noise, noise, noise, noise!” When conversations reach a lull, people complain that it has become too quiet. They turn up the volume, start a meaningless conversation, or bring out an electronic device. Teachers yell at the top of their lungs to PLEASE STOP TALKING. When you go outside, there is rarely, if ever, quiet. Cars and planes rumbling, lawnmowers whirring, and other man made sounds are constantly making their respective noises. Even nature makes noise, though that is a little more relaxing. For some people, silence is something they can’t do.

Despite the above mentioned occasions, there are moments of silence, in many varied situations. When deep in thought, talking and moving don’t occur to us, and, with the exception of sleep-talkers, people asleep are not chattering or playing with electronics. Sometimes when we get embarrassed or confused, awkward silences commence until someone figures out something to do or say. Sometimes, the times we are silent are when we understand each other best. When we experience great sadness or profound joy, the wisest people don’t have anything to say.

To different people, silence can be different things. To some, it is awkward, overwhelming, and irritating. To others it is calming, peaceful and necessary to their well being and, perhaps, their sanity. It’s a recess, a break, a breather. Whether it is warm, cold, deep, or easily breakable, silence is in the lives of everyone.

I understand that not everyone likes silence. Some are scared of it and it can be hard to allow to happen. However hard to appreciate, there are some who do. While silent, great thoughts, ideas, and revelations, can come to you. Silence is beautiful. I’ve come to love it, and someday, I hope, so will the world.

 

Low self esteem is a large factor in a teenager’s future life. Parents shake their heads and say, “They’re just going through a faze.” Friends and peers either console or goad. Teachers ignore because of an inability to help. A teen with a bad body image has nowhere to turn. Several reasons for low self esteem are: the media, pre-existing stereotypes, and what a person has been treated like. Low self esteem can be physically and mentally damaging.

A leading cause of low self esteem is the negative expectations of the media. Tabloids attack celebrities when they step outside the “Pretty Borders”. TV shows like “America’s Next Top Model” say “Be perfect of lose”. Ads show young, skinny and strong, attractive men and women as happy. These physical expectations, when unreachable, can cause a teen to think of themselves as flawed and may cause them to harm their bodies.

Stereotypes have existed since men became hunters and women, gatherers and child bearers. Woman had to look young, healthy, and attractive to get a mate. Men had to be strong, good hunters. The urge and pressure to be perfect created corsets, makeup, and over-priced exercise equipment. Being pretty is supposed to make you happy. Sometimes it does and the stereotype “proves” true.

Not all self esteem problems are about how you look. If a person has been told all their life that they are stupid and worthless, they will undoubtedly believe it. Most of the time, they don’t even realize it’s a problem. The message is so deeply ingrained in their brain that they don’t notice it. Though sometimes they do realize it and become defensive and guarded, scared that everyone thinks they are stupid or worthless.

Low self esteem affects many, many teens. I think this is because teenagers undergo so many changes during puberty. Everyone gets taller and gain weight. Girl’s hips get wider. Voices change. All those changes and all those hormones can really freak a person out. The changes are to sudden and it makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable. They blame themselves and their bodies. Thus, low self esteem.

Low self esteem is not a “phase.” It is an emotional problem that can permanently affect a person’s life. There are not always outward signs of inner turmoil and confusion. If you do notice, be supportive as hating yourself is lonely business. Low self esteem is a serious problem that, when ignored, can only fester and grow. A teens low self esteem can permanently and negatively affect them physically and mentally their whole life.

 

Did you know that people are more concerned about who their favorite celebrity is currently going out with then they are in the safety of the trapped miners in Chili? This fairly stupid ( in my opinion) mindset is fueled in part by those all-knowing, brightly colored, large-fonted magazines that pollute the grocery-store checkout line. What are these pollutants? Yep, you guessed right. The  Tabloids, Gossip-rags, “Celebrity news”, etc. We can not escape them. Now I’m not saying it isn’t alright to occasionally enjoy the over-the-topness of it all, but prolonged exposure to these toxins can completely ruin your self esteem and your sense of proportion. All that gossip can overwhelm a person, making it hard to see what is going on around you. And overwhelm it does. They photo-shop pictures to make them more sensational. They “forget” to include important and factual information. They straight-out lie. The gullible or bored are the first to go. With all this easy to access info, who needs to think? Beware this addicting infection. As hard as in may be, try to ignore those blaring front-pages and brightly colored, shiny pictures. They are a very hard, very expensive, habit to break. Consider yourself warned.

 

It’s my 13th birthday today, August 27th. I am officially a bratty, bored, unmotivated, grunting teenager. Or is that just boys? I only have teenage brothers so I don’t have a very good model for my new, teenage self. I think I will probably carry on as normal. In our family we celebrate all birthdays on the closest Sunday. Unfortunately, my dad will be in California this Sunday. I wish I was going to be in California this Sunday. Alas, without my dad we can’t celebrate. SO we decided to have a Fratus women weekend bash for my my mom and me, that would combine my birthday and hers, on the 5th and 6th of September. It postpones MY b-day 7 days. That’s okay. I can wait. I hope.

 

I’ve recently (well sort of) been wondering if anyone actually reads this. I mean, I will keep posting semi-regularly (it’s the best I can do) but I wonder if anyone reads this random, slightly boring blog written by a little teenager. Not that it’s bad if you don’t. I should be writing this for the learning experience. But it would be nice if someone did. For the sense of personal achievement. If you are reading, please comment! I would love to hear from you.

 

Hola! I am extremely sorry about not posting since spring. I love summer and it’s almost over! Fortunately, I love Fall too 🙂  And now that I’m being homeschooled, I have even more to be exited about! As much as I will miss being around my friends and the clubs I can’t do, I honestly think that it is for the best. The pro’s definitely outweigh the con’s. Also, I’m sick and tired of this heat. Fall’s beautiful as well. I am playing volleyball for the third season and that’s great. I miss my friend but I should see them at school when i’m volunteering and doing clubs. Generally, my summer has been busy and interesting. I still didn’t tan 🙁

 
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