It is one thing to read a book cover to cover, but it’s another thing to uncover the different ways that the text can relate to your life. So began our quest for questions and adventures for answers that we would present in the debate. The B.R.A.W.L. made me realize something I had never recognized before. There is so much power behind a question. It triggers thought, emotion, conversation, opposition, and reaction.
The story of my learning began with the very first topic that asked what keeps man from reverting to his feral instincts. In the response that we came up with, my group focused on the physical aspects that keep us from becoming animals. We wear leopard print, cheetah print, and leather because we see them as resources from the wild. Why? We naturally believe that we are superior and these animals can make a worthy fashion statement.
What my group found interesting was the point presented by Brandon and Johnson. We thought that physical material things were the only effective way of keeping someone from going back to animal instincts. Instead, they presented the point that love, an intangible object, held the most power in constraining man.
To be completely honest, I was baffled. I had never thought of it that way. Their inclusion of the love story between Tarzan and Jane strongly supported their point. Tarzan isolated himself from the rest of the world with no intentions of returning because he couldn’t accept the lifestyle that the other humans were living. However, when Jane, his one true love stumbles into his life, he opens himself up to reconnect with another human being despite the fact that he had been isolated up to that moment in his life.
Not all topics were as easy to see eye to eye. The first debate eventually turned to the topic of moving on from a dying loved one. Both groups that presented simply stated that moving on while the person was still breathing was all right because it was best to come to terms with how things are. I didn’t agree with that. I think I couldn’t agree with that point because I am an emotionally driven person. Accepting death before it came seemed to me like it was counting the eggs before they hatched. In hard times, you will learn that you need to let them go — when they go that is. Having watched many romantic movies that aroused many feelings, this debate topic immediately reminded me of The Fault In Our Stars.
When Hazel discovered that the cancer reappeared in Augustus’ body, she was extremely heartbroken and knew that she was going to lose the love of her life. With tears streaming down her face, she assured him that the numbered of days to come would be well spent. As sad as it was, she knew that their love story was a shortened one, like a roller coaster that simply went too fast.
“And it is my privilege and my responsibility to ride all the way up with you.” -Hazel Grace from TFIOS
Still, she allowed for herself to mourn and spend all the time in the world with him as if he was still healthy. I think that the relationship that Hazel and Augustus shared depicts how we cope with the loss of loved ones. Emotions are powerful things, but at the same time, we should not be scared of them. We do not move on to avoid the pain that is proof of love.
The question that our group, MMMK wanted to talk about the most was the debate on whether it was better to be fear or loved as a leader. Many groups took the Machiavelli approach to the subject: strike fear in your people so that they would never dare to act out against you. I could not physically imagine how a feared leader could stay in power. I attempted to explain my point using a stack of paper cups.
These are stacked cups and we will call them the power towers. The bright side would be how power is held when is a leader is loved and the dark side will be how power is held when a leader is feared. Pretend that each of these cups represent the basis in which these two different leaders assert their control. A feared leader has perhaps two or three supportive cups beneath him. Why?
A feared leader can only enforce his rule on the basis of two things, threats and punishment. Because his rule is supported by two things, it doesn’t take much to knock down the poorly structured tower when an attack is generated. A loved leader, however, enforces his rule on the basis many things. The examples that we came up with were respect, compassion, relativity, honesty, and consideration. Now, with a stronger supported structure, it would take a lot more to overthrow a ruler that is loved by the people.
During the second half of the B.R.A.W.L (S.H.I.P.) the topic of gun restrictions came up. In and outside of the book All Quiet on the Western Front, guns held a lot of destructive power. Katherine was right in urging reforms in the gun laws because weapons didn’t kill people, people killed people. Then, this happened.
Mr. T said that the solution of the problem did not lie in the gun laws, but in the function of the guns. It was true, the need to stop people and punish people for crime would never stop. The death and the injuries from the bullets, however, could. My group tried to imagine a day in which spider webs could trap those trying to escape from a crime scene, and we had to say, it sounded like an amazing solution.
In my group, we did all of the brainstorming together. We would sit and bounce off each other’s ideas until we were able to come up with a problem and a mutually agreed solution. Even though we live decades later than Paul, we share in his struggles. For example, when Paul struggled to get out of getting more than he bargained for concerning the amputation of his leg, it reminded us how often times we feel trapped by sellers to do or buy certain things.
We related it to the outside book because each of the questions that we generated were directly influenced by our own needs and problems. We wanted to open up the struggles and conflicts of our daily lives to our peers. Also, we opened up our questions to solutions provided in the different fields of study.
Individually, what I did to contribute to my group was I helped to formulate the responses to my shared amount of questions and find resources and videos. My favorite video that I found to support a response to the question was the marshmallow test. We used this video to describe how the tendency of people to rebel or break rules can never be changed. These habits and desires begin at an early age and continue onto adulthood. In the way that the test expressed how child behavior can dictate the success of the adult, we believed that the ability to resist breaking rules when you’re young decides if trouble awaits you in the future.
Another favorite real world connection that I made was in response to the topic concerning about regard for human life. After many car rides with my dad with the CDs on loud, I immediately thought of the song “We Are The World.”
I knew that human compassion could be dramatically improved if we treated problems all around the world as if they were our own. Suffering, big or small, is still suffering. Helping, big or small, is still helping. It is the give and take that makes us brothers and sisters and reminds us of the value of human life.
The entire B.R.A.W,L. experience allowed for me to utilize the knowledge of my peers and the world in order to solve the problems that I thought about while reading All Quiet On The Western Front. It is one thing to read a book cover to cover, but its another thing when you are able to discover.