Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sophmore Year-50% Complete

As we finish up our semester exams and shove our books under our beds until January 6th, undoubtedly everyone is ready for a break from school. These last few weeks have been pandemonium.

It is amazing to think that half of my sophomore year is over. In the last five months I have cheered at my very first high school football game, made it through marching band season without seriously injuring anyone with my flag (sorry Paige!), dealt with three AP biology teachers in the first month of school, and survived all of Mr. Sparks' Algebra II tests! And that doesn't even touch the social aspect of high school.

High School is much more fun than junior high. The freedom, opportunities, and people are all welcome changes. Our school offers so many extracurriculars that it's hard not to be busy. While the workload sometimes reaches ridiculous levels, I have yet to have a psychological breakdown.

I am actually a little sad thinking about how fast my high school experience is expiring. I watch as every day the milestones my friends and I dreamed of back in elementary school pass us by. I do not want to look back at this time in my life with any regrets, so I am going to continue to make the best of my sophomore year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Your Destiny

Do you believe in fate? The characters in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar do. Fate and superstition play integral roles in the development of the plot.

In the time of Caesar, the plebeians, commoners who were neither affluent nor educated, relied heavily on omens and augury to predict their futures. Believing that higher powers controlled every aspect of their lives, they felt that their free will had little effect on the ultimate outcome.

Shakespeare refers to all kinds of portents in his play. A soothsayer warns Caesar to "beware the Ides of March". Calphurnia, Caesar's wife, begs him to stay home from the Senate after dreaming of fountains flowing with Caesar's blood. Brutus is visited by the ghost of Julius. On the night the conspirators met to plan the assassination, nature presaged a catastrophe with its thunder, lightning, unusual animal sightings, and even earthquakes.

While some might argue that the Senators plotted of their own free will, who is to say that the conspiracy was not all a part of a grander scheme that entwined their fates with the tragic fall of the tyrannical Caesar?

Shakespeare might have been on to something. Is anything really of our own free will? Is it possible to truly control one's destiny?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A True Leader?

In Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, most of the characters are men hungry for political power. Caesar welcomed the idea of becoming an absolute dictator. The conspirators, excepting Brutus, envied Caesar's power and murdered him. After Caesar's fall, Mark Antony began plotting for more power.

Some believe that Antony's ability to sway an audience is a characteristic of a good leader. However, this is merely an oratorical skill. Mark Antony took over the podium after Brutus' speech, and took advantage of the people's shock and emotion to lead them to believe that all the conspirators were evil for ridding Rome of its leader.

Antony, sensing an opportunity for domination, knew that in the wake of Caesar's death, if he could persuade the common people that the conspirators were criminals, he could take over Rome. He merely used the citizens to climb the ladder of power.

Walt Disney once said, "Leadership means that a group, large or small, is willing to entrust authority to a person who has shown judgment, wisdom, personal appeal, and proven competence."

Antony did not show judgment, wisdom, or competence. He simply manipulated peasants to side with him in order to advance politically.

Many politicians today do the very same thing. Speaking eloquently with upbeat messages, sweeping generalities, and shameless propaganda, they win supporters by the thousands. While these orators have ultimate personal appeal, they are not always the honest, hard-working people we want leading our country.