Alias Grace

Imagine, if you will, that you are a woman and your position in life is already compromised. Your body indicated for servitude both for vocation and male sexual desire. Your voice is silent before you speak. If you dare speak you are hysterical, or worse a whore not worth given credence. Your mind is easily susceptible to bad spirits and incomprehensible thoughts simply because you are born of a sex religiously deemed devious.


That is Grace Marks, a woman determined so by natural devices, at the age of 15 or 16 years old. An Irish immigrant already expected poverty. Already, so early she is to be told by society what her body is good and useful for and that is servitude.

Every order given to her is expected of utmost obedience. Every action by her own is acted as innocence.

If she ever denies any order she is suddenly ‘filthy’, a ‘whore’, or ‘untrustworthy’.

What stood out to me in this miniseries is the ‘doctor of the mind’. A psychiatrist named Simon, given permission to have sessions with Grace in order to stir her memory of the events again. Then again, what memories are there to stir if the events of murder were never seen or properly recollected? Regardless he was curious, always on the edge, sleepless even to know more about Grace and her story. Simon had supposed that Grace was either somewhere along the lines of insanity or a woman who had found a means to break away from the suppression of her body.

She had become clever, he thought even. To express what one may think is rage against what was done to her and any other woman; or to express her anger of suppression. Suppression- that is to clean and to care at so young of an age. Suppression- that also means to give her body to any man’s will with a command for her consent. She had then created an audience with her hysterics. An audience composed of wealthy gossipers and then potential romantic partners, including Simon. He then supposed that that was her intention, even one that cost nearly her life.

It’s definitely a curious subject here. If you were a woman of that time period-and had to witness what that meant exactly, would you become a fiend to speak on it?


He Is Hero

‘In the beginning’, indicates a story that it is cliché and overdone. This will begin as others to tell the trope of Hero.

In the beginning, what inspired the common man- since women where often disregarded-was a Hero. A Hero was often born during mysterious, glorious, alien-like circumstances. It was his birth that predestined his good fortune, good looks and power and strength beyond that of the common man. Or simply put, someone did something so great that the common man thought to honor him- as it is usually a male- with the title of a ‘hero’. A common man witnessed another common man braver than himself, therefore the other more brave became a Hero. Or we can say that common man was much more sophisticated than we may give credit for sometimes, so a Hero was an imagined person. In regards to religion, or to gods, He or them are the imagined person(s). His purpose was to represent a figurative meaning of a few adjectives commonly associated with someone that has taken a risk or has made a (self) sacrifice for the greater good or in selfishness.

War or dangerous adventure is the hero’s normal occupation. He is surrounded by noble peers, and is magnanimous to his followers and ruthless to his enemies. In addition to his prowess in battle, he is resourceful and skillful in many crafts; he can build a house, sail a boat, and, if shipwrecked, is an expert swimmer. He is sometimes, like Odysseus, cunning and wise in counsel, but a hero is not usually given to much subtlety. He is a man of action rather than thought and lives by a personal code of honor that admits of no qualification. His responses are usually instinctive, predictable, and inevitable. He accepts challenge and sometimes even courts disaster. Thus baldly stated, the hero’s ethos seems over simple by the standards of a later age. He is childlike in his boasting and rivalry, in his love of presents and rewards, and in his concern for his reputation. He is sometimes foolhardy and wrong-headed, risking his life—and the lives of others—for trifles. Roland, for instance, dies because he is too proud to sound his horn for help when he is overwhelmed in battle.

Encyclopedia Britannica

The Hero to modern humankind is like the ancient definition- as revealed in super hero comics, movies and television. The Hero may also be one as described in Kung Fu films, anime collection films and television series. The Hero is someone that is strong, a risk taker and willing to sacrifice his life for others or the greater good. Though He or She is a conflicted character and may allow the more human emotions to overwhelm the mind. During this moment, as it is usually brief, self-reflection turns into selfish behavior that may cause greater damage to an individual or to an entire community. However, the Hero will readjust itself as good. And to remain forever timeless.

The most common, least forgotten form of the Hero is ‘God’. What is meant by ‘least forgotten’? No, ‘God’ is most often labeled as the Hero for modern humankind, but the meaning of that term ‘hero’ is often glossed over. A ‘hero’ is defined as a mythical person who is of the divine. This definition could also be applied to a warrior, or a soldier today, or just about anyone that exhibits such qualities like courage and bravery. In the sense of moral philosophy, the discussion here is the ‘God’ as the Hero that determines ethics. The Hero being part of a myth is one of divine creation by the imaginative common man (or men), in order to provide a figurative meaning of ethics for the common people.

In all tropes, either ancient or modern, there is a battle between good and evil. The successor, the one that triumphs over evil, is often regarded as the Hero. In ancient times this Hero overcame a battle either with the self or for a community of people- whether He was related to them or not. In modern times this Hero overcame a great feat often imaginary as it plays in superhero films and television. In the religious sense, every interpretation as ‘God’ or the Hero shows that He is the successor over what is evil- and that being the Devil/Satan in the Christian theology. What is evil? Evil is one that defies; a naysayer or negative thoughts and emotions; in opposition or question to what is good. The Hero then becomes an example to abide by and to follow by common people.

The purpose of these tropes are to exhibit good behavior or to have others obliged, for a common good. This purpose was exhibited in both ancient political and moral philosophy as a constant measure to ensure an ordered society, and well-behaved or well-ordered individuals. As for religious philosophy the same as true, though with an additional granting of immunity.

In the end, the Hero is simply a story of a moral code or something to achieve.



How to Explain Atheism?

The question posed to an atheist is often along the lines of ‘how could you not believe in God’?

The mindset that follows behind this question, perhaps, are along the lines of ‘you are denying your own existence along with everything else that exist’. Or, perhaps, the person or the believer posing this question may think that to not believe is the most ridiculous concept because of what the belief in ‘God’ offers.

A belief in ‘God’ offers sanity and hope. That is sanity meaning that the question of life existence is troubling to the human mind. In ancient philosophy, the undeclared atheist contemplated about how religion and the concept of the supernatural did not suffice in answering the greater question of life, especially that of human existence. Or in the case of Epicurus and Lucretius that thought if gods existed then they placed no importance on the lives of human beings, as they were absent and invisible. It is troubling to think what caused our existence and what gave us the ability to think and to question this fact. That troubling fact being one of insignificance, as I spelled out in ‘So They Believe’. And in hope meaning that there is an underlying purpose to suffering or to living on Earth. That there is some being out there beyond our sphere, well now beyond our universe, is our guidance and care-giver.

So, here I am to explain atheism. Atheism is the ‘lack of belief in gods’. This is not a ‘denial of god(s)’, as that statement requires a belief in god(s). This is not a belief system as its definition begins and ends in its initial statement. This term is not a religion as there are no doctrines, moral philosophy, and the sort attributed to the statement. There are two types of atheist: one that is gnostic and the other that is agnostic. Gnostic meaning to know something, or to know without doubt, or to know with affirmation. Agnostic meaning to be unsure of something, or to doubt, or to not know without affirmation. A gnostic atheist lacks a belief in god(s) because there is definitive proof of its or their non-existence. While an agnostic atheist are those like Epicurus and Lucretius expressing a lack of belief in gods, though not sure of that statement provability.

Therefore, to an atheist of either persuasion the mindset of a theist bears no weight on their mind. The argument that atheist are in denial of their existence, or in denial of their creator, ignores the point that an atheist thinks that the ‘creator’ was created by imaginative common people.

Then, depending on the particular atheist, the reasons in addition to their lack of belief is determined by how much that one person is convinced.

My Statement

I am asked often how and why I am an atheist. I tell them first that no liberal college poisoned my mind with liberal nonsense of the beginning or declining of everything. Actually, I first began to question the existence of ‘god’ after tattling on a younger sibling that expressed a lack of belief. It was only when I was a child that I questioned the imagery of this being, as well the purpose that this ‘god’ may serve in my life. As well, the lesson about there being different religions in the world proved to be a less convincing case for the religion I was indoctrinated into. So I told myself, though unknowing of the proper words at the time- that I will remain simply agnostic until I have read the holy text about all religions.

Over time I became simply an atheist. As a young atheist I never mocked the theist, only to question what all they stated as the exact meaning and purpose to every question and concern that can be conceived about life. I never got around to reading all of those holy text as they are many and most inaccessible to myself. Not even the Christian bible. I can only count on one hand how many times I have opened and read the Holy Bible. However, I took an interest in philosophy and the concept of religion as learned in the subject of history. As I graduated, moved on to college, I became a gnostic atheist.

How am I able to have a firm knowledge of something I have not read? To study the specific text(s) is meant to only argue the points made within the holy text(s). That was never my purpose since as a child. As a child I questioned the imagery and the purpose, not ‘what did Jacob say?’ Therefore, the confirmation and answers to the many questions I had kept silent existed in the origins of each religion. As I had moved onto college I wished to major in philosophy. Upon searching for the likelihood of making a living with that degree it encouraged me to choose history instead. Specifically, I concentrated on western civilization and that meant learning of the beginning of ancient philosophy and the philosophers, as well as the beginning of the major Western religions present today. In learning about something you learn about how and why it was created. Though the details of this topic is for another extended essay, I may state that my confirmation was found that god(s) and religion are human created.

My confirmation was not told specifically, but through several courses. This affirmation was told by Christian professors that had to explain the point of historical interpretation of religion as not being a denial or criticism of their present religious convictions. Though one could sense the discomfort in the room whenever we discussed the early Christian beliefs, as in comparison to their own as modern Christians. I was told this to be true when discussing the concept of ‘hero’s’ as told in epic poems or the history of a glorious time before the existence of writing by the ancients. This was never specific. There was never a confirmation that ‘yea all of this myth’ by professors or by the students, whom all or most are religious as well. This is simply a person, myself that came to the conclusion of all that I have been taught- and all that had been carefully worded as to not offend.

My Conclusion

What I have come to conclude: ‘He Is Hero’.

A combination of all of the courses, lessons, lectures have concluded to that specific topic. Now I admittedly failed at knowing the mundane, specific details of the epics; the purpose of Homer’s writing; the thoughts of Socrates; to actually read the text about the Jews and Christians under Roman rule; etc. All of which were disinteresting as my mind often went on a tangent about the overall idea, gathered without reading much further. My mind is primarily fascinated by concepts. I am moved by the general idea of something rather than the specifics, though the specifics like an event’s date may prove to be useful. Though not useful in understanding the underlying meaning of everything, or one specific topic and the purpose of it.

I have concluded here that He is in fact a Hero. My quest in knowing this fact was due to my thoughts and views on religion. What does Hero mean and what does Hero provide to others has always been a common topic upon my mind. And then whenever questioned about my inability to believe in a higher, supernatural being I vaguely reference that He Is [A] Hero.

A simple statement not conveying and justifying all that is known or could be known. However, in its simplicity answers a common question asked of an atheist. Here I gave my own summary of how and why I’m convinced.

For the Teacher

The life of being a bright yet shy student from primary school to throughout college had proved quite a challenge for me. I had grew up in a household, and within a culture, where the opinion and thoughts of a child are irrelevant. And if that child dares speak to challenge the parent, or the elders of the family, then they are being a disrespectful child. The inability to express oneself proves to be a detriment to one’s potential success in school. I wish, only that my family understood that about me as I still become flustered whenever they, now, ask for my opinion. That is a minor reason for my shyness in school. The major reason is that I grew up with intense social anxiety that was evident since I was a toddler. My family enjoy joking about me and my ‘hollering’ for no apparent reason. The more they tell and the more I attempt to understand my forgotten behavior, I see now that it was a early sign of stress and anxiety. An early sign that I cried loudly if I was separated from my mom, and even more so if surrounded by strangers. Throughout my childhood I still remember the discomfort, however, then I became self-aware of the unwanted attention I may draw if I speak or address myself in public. I became then one of those shy, withdrawn, aloof child and student in school. What a challenge this has been for me. I was forever reluctant to share my thoughts and opinions, and would shy away from a challenge. Only to retreat back to my safe place that is my mind-to all of the imaginative wonders of a story dream that I was inspired to create to about the age of 18 years old. I have since interpreted it all as an immature coping mechanism for the stresses and anxieties I had had. What was the challenge in school? The struggle to share my thoughts either written or spoken out loud. The trembling fear I had to present my work in front of a class room of different opinions. So I would purposefully sabotage my projects, accurately calculating that I would make a C letter grade for little effort. As for essay writing, I most certainly had the potential to outperform whatever I had presented. Though, still reluctant to share and too embarrassed to reread my own writing, I left many of my final essays as a rough draft.

This behavior to underperform and to be so aware of the differences of opinion reflected in my school work and classroom learning level placement. I have experienced the classroom environment for remedial students; classrooms for the average student; classrooms for the slightly above average students; then the classroom for the truly gifted or privileged. If I were placed in a remedial class, somehow I would ‘snap out’ of my safe place to prove myself otherwise. The classroom materials there were too easy, repetitive and redundant. I’m in need of a challenge. I would then be placed in a classroom for the average, where I would compete with the brightest student. Still, then the lessons were to easy for me. Later on I would be placed with the slightly above average students. I had one experience where it bothered me in a way. In second grade I remember being one of the few black students in an English and literature art class. A classroom full of students regarded as bright, or just simply privileged. There was a time where the teacher would ask a question and, I’ll be honest here, I was too busy daydreaming to pay attention. The teacher would call on one of us, one of the black students to participate because we rarely voiced ourselves. The times she would call on me I would give her an honest answer ‘I don’t know’. I don’t know because I never paid attention to the lesson or instruction, to her, to anyone else other than my mind. Of course this reflected to the letter grade C, which then gave her a thought to set aside time for the students that were struggling. We were the black students. Sitting around a small table we were reading a book, attempting to interpret the subject I suppose. The teacher would, again, ask us questions we could not answer- for very different reasons. What was I doing instead? I was making ‘googly eyes’ at my class friend beside me. The issue that I am addressing here is not that black students felt more insecure compared to their white or privileged peers here. No I was not ever aware of the ‘race’ factor, meaning that my childhood was color-blind. In my mind, and the issue here, is that I was disinterested. I never tried, never attempted, however the assumption being that I needed additional help to understand was a decision made without discussion. I was not in need of help, instead I was need of something interesting. As I needed something interesting, I needed someone to help me with my anxieties, insecurities and the stresses that they caused.

I think now that it was only until I entered high school did teachers silently came together and saw that I was need of a challenge. I assume they had discussed me in some way, since teachers have mentioned to their class that they discuss particular students and their performance. This includes one time I was approached by the principal who had asked me ‘do you find your classes more challenging now?’. I was taking advanced placement courses for the first time by my junior year. Honestly, I was ready and excited to finally be challenged, and to finally be more interested in learning. Of course, I still dealt with insecurities. I was one of the many that raised my hand when the AP English teacher asked ‘do any of you think you’re not smart enough to be here?’ The sun that once glowed had since died once I experienced classroom life with the truly gifted or simply privileged. By my observation they were simply privileged. How so? The AP government teacher thought to set the first day with a bit of ego inflation. He exclaimed that ‘you guys are the cream of the crop, the smartest there is and I believe in you’. Towards the end of the semester he was bitterly disappointed in the AP test scores. He muttered one day ‘I cannot believe it, some of you didn’t even try’. How can you not believe it sir? From what I remember, the majority of the classroom were given grades based on who their parents were exactly, though we all gave the same amount of effort or none at all. The majority of the class have teachers for parents, or parents present on the school  board, or an uncle who is the principal for our high school. And since I had underprivileged parents my letter grades were within the ‘C’ range. Now compare that to the letter ‘B’ grade given to the girl who drew butterflies for answers because she- like everyone else besides three others truly bright and dedicated-didn’t try and did not care. I have no place for dishonesty here, this actually occurred and offended me so. By that point I was dealing with depression-had been diagnosed and medicated. I had stopped trying because I had become more sensitive and emotional about other factors in my life. I didn’t care to try because the environment for which I was to be challenged, was not challenging in the least sense. I was sorely disappointed, so by my senior year I had become one of the ‘above average’ students. At least then I knew that the challenge was fair.

It’s time for college. At 18 years old it was time to make a decision about my life when I had yet to deal with my emotions, and other insecurities. A time where I did not know what I wanted to do and felt somewhat ‘pushed out the door’ to do something with my life. So sudden of a decision, I chose college. I chose history as my major, yet again unsure of what I wanted to do. A ha!, to write and to write well; to research and to research something in particular that I will figure out once I get there. I find myself regretting to make a decision so suddenly. Instead I should have taken a year off to study myself as I had come to find out that old habits die hard. My habit is to sabotage my work and to underperform whenever I feel insecure. To have a professor tell me ‘perhaps you should visit the writing center, since frankly you cannot write’. I would take offense, certainly, ‘snap out’ to prove otherwise. I had asked my mentor if I could take one of his upper level classes as a freshman. Anxiety had overtaken my emotions, my entire body, as I shook like a leaf every day. Five months had passed, yet I have not so much entered the library or the eating venues out of fear of the many strangers that I would have to encounter. The silent judgement that was only a present fear created in my mind, ‘you do not belong here’. I needed to find proof and my proof was found my freshman year taking an upper level course. I was the young black with the afro sitting far back in the corner, always on the right side. I was always the quiet one, not once voiced myself out of shyness. But I was intrigued, in love with the lecturing style of my mentor and professor, in awe with a truly challenging environment. Although I was quiet, I truly enjoyed my time.  The challenge then was to write a semester long research and analytical essay about the technologies of medieval Europe. I will tell you that I had stressed over and re-written that essay in its entirety six times, all thirteen pages. The reward was most deserving, the highest grade I had ever received on a paper, a 98. I do not know why but as time moved forward I continued to fall into bad habits, become overly shy once again, then to ‘snap out’ once I had found a purpose or my confidence. Especially so, when I had found interest in the subject I would try my best and would succeed.

A terrible habit that has caused some questions by others that didn’t quite believe my words to be my writing. I was the quiet one, the one too afraid to speak in front of others with different opinions. Not only different opinions, but of others who were older and far more experienced and knowledgeable than I am in the subject. Since I had begun tackling the upper level courses early on, I did not travel with those of my age group who would have been more understanding of my nature. I didn’t speak, too fearful to speak. As you would assume, hated doing presentations with so much passion. If I had known that presentation was required for my major in excess I wouldn’t have attempted. Perhaps I would not have attempted college altogether considering the constant attacks to my anxiety and unforgiving financial debt thereafter. My writing is my own. I state this as I anticipate including my research analysis writing here for my blog, less tame in length. I have found a compromise. I do not speak often and I am unable to articulate myself well while speaking. However, I am just as bright and inquisitive as I will appear on paper or on screen. I have ideas to share and a much needed alternative viewpoint on all subjects. And I type even this self reflection as I contemplate about my future career decisions.

I reflect back on this time as a student, since I am to become a teacher for the time being. As of August 2017 I will apply to a college, yet again to find a stable career path way. I am to become a teacher but as a teacher I wish to be fair to students, and to be sensitive to the needs of students like myself. The shy student, or the bright and shy student. The introvert, as I am too, but not to be conflated with shyness. There are special talents and great insights a student may be able to give, however always finding discomfort with either their self or discomfort with the demands of group-oriented and opinion sharing environments. The lessons are to prepare students for college and/or for the working world. I understand that too now, however is it necessary? I do agree as I disagree. For now I will provide an article that fits and fights best: I Argued That Class Participation Was Necessary. Then I Heard From Introverts.

Upon reading a short article titled Stories from the Trenches: Why Don’t Students Participate in Class?, I thought to share my experience first. Why students do not participate in class is dependent of that individual student. Some do so politely because they are taught it is inappropriate to speak or to ‘know more than one’s professor’. Others do so because they are shy, or they are bright yet shy like myself. Then those that cannot get a word in with their peers blurting their opinions with or without relevance or substance. The reason could be a disorder, or selective mutism as I am inclined to believe was my issue. The reasons are all varied and intersecting. There are no sure way to help every student adequately as some issues are outside of the teacher’s domain. Like myself in dealing with social anxiety and depression, I was in need of counseling or some sort of therapy. I could not expect my AP high school teacher to understand that that is why I was among the many that refused to try.  In becoming a teacher, again for the time being, I wish to be sensitive to students as I am to require certain expectations. As well, I require that teachers now to be more sensitive.

Monuments to the Confederacy

There is a heated debate over the public presentation of confederate soldier monuments decorated throughout the southern region of the United States. A dozen have been taken down in the light of recent vocal public outrage, which has caused additional outrage in itself.  NBC sites the Southern Law Poverty Center stating that over 1,500 monuments to the confederacy still remain. And the upset on either side of the debate remains as well, since the pressure to either keep or to remove the monuments is the decision of the government. What is the argument of either of the outraged? That the monuments to the Confederacy are history. Well they both agree that the monuments are both symbolic and important. What is the debate then? One side assumes that the monuments are a history of a defense to the crimes against humanity and the treason that cost the lives of over 1.2 million men [and women] union and confederate soldiers. A war that ultimately devastated the economy of the South, which then influenced the history of ‘race’ relations with its freed population of black Americans there after. As to where the monuments should be relocated, the majority consensus say a museum, while others say they should be all destroyed and forgotten. The other side, seemingly the direct descendants of confederate soldiers as well, argue that the monuments are history and should be honored and should remain. The confederate soldiers should be honored for their valor, for the act of fighting in a war. I’ve noticed that those that argue this point are those that support soldiers no matter if the war that was fought was just or justified in its subject. Their offense is that a soldier’s duty has been taken for granted. As well, they ask ‘why now?’ They are asking well the monuments have been present for well over 50 years or more. Why now is the public outraged of their presence?

The argument between the two sides is agreed upon by myself as well. What are my thoughts on the debate rather? I will tell my opinion as a person of several influences. I am a black American, a descendant of black American slaves. I was born and raised in the rural South part of north Georgia. I grew up on a road that was part of the Callaway Plantation Farms, which still remain in name today. I grew up on the same roads as my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother who was most likely a slave. My rural town is connected to a historic district town called Washington, GA. In that town I remember my kindergarten school tour to the Callaway Plantation house. As well I remember my time walking about the center staring at the courthouse and the large tree that stood before it. The tree has since been taken down. I always noticed the large tree, however I never paid any attention to the confederate monument that stands before the courthouse. As my mom would drive around I would definitely see it. However I did not know to whom it honored or what it honors. I was never taught in school why it was there. As far as I know I was not concerned, no one was concerned about its presence. Now that I am observing an outrage about confederate monuments, as an adult, my feelings towards the monument of my hometown remains, honestly, unconcerned.

Again, I am a person of several influences and one of my influence is my great interest for, and my study of, history. I have recently graduated with my degree in history, specifically about western civilization. On my personal free time I will read more, watch more, discover about the history of the United States. As one of my southern history professors stated ‘I like history that is told in my backyard’. What I have been taught, and what I have learned on my own, is that the preservation of history is important. As well the preservation of a history torn and destroyed is important. There is a great importance, then, in the matter of people making historic decisions about their history regardless. The fact that a racist society decided to honor the Confederacy with monuments to the soldiers that had died in vain, is a historic decision. The more vocal outrage calling out the racial insensitive that is reminded with the presence of confederate monuments is now history. And if our government decides to take down all 1,500 or more monuments in light of outrage will be recorded in history. We will, indefinitely, be reminded that the American Civil War was fought and Confederacy had lost. We will forever be reminded that this was an important battle fought. This is what makes history interesting. As long as there is a record of an idea and of its existence, we will forever be reminded.

With or without the presence of the monuments, we still have descendants of the confederate soldiers that regard the valor highly. They honor their history with decorated confederate flags as shirts, hats, bras, bumper stickers for trucks. They will forever speak of ‘Southern Pride’ so long as they have children to continue their culture and beliefs. We will still have a segment of the U.S. population to remind us that the Confederacy mattered to millions of people. And that their voice and beliefs is why the monuments were erected in the first place. We are forever reminded.

Should the monuments stay, then? I am stating, as an opinion, to regardless of the decision made by local governments, the history remains and is reminded.