Jo-Anne McArthur And Walt Whitman

Jo-Anne McArthur And Walt Whitman

"Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul."
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On January 21, the Canisius College philosophy department screened Liz Marshall's documentary, "The Ghosts in Our Machine," and the next evening, JoAnne McArthur gave a presentation and answered a few questions. Using her photography skills as a means of activism, McArthur photographs animals confined in industries such as meat, fur, and laboratory testing. Her documentary shows her speaking with magazine editors, trying to show people the realities of many products they support through purchases.

Jo-Ann McArthur’s activism focuses on viewing all animals as individuals and making personal connections. In many of her photographs, McArthur emphasizes an individual animal, who is usually gazing into the camera. Looking into the cow’s eyes on the cover of the film, every viewer can understand that all animals are sentient beings capable of distress, just like humans.

As an English major, I couldn’t help but think about Walt Whitman’s poetry while listening to her presentation. Whitman was a war nurse during the Civil War, and he wanted his poetry to unite and heal the country. A Romantic poet, his poetry implies that all humans can form connections, no matter how seemingly unrelated; through a transcendental moment, usually a physical touch, this connection becomes spiritual. When we all feel connected and we feel like we're a part of this collective identity, we have stronger empathy and are less likely to be complicit about the suffering of others.

McArthur takes this one step further, including both human and nonhuman animals in this way of thinking. "The Ghosts in Our Machine" highlights several individuals, so the viewer can make personal connections. For me, this tactic was very effective, especially when the documentary followed an adopted beagle who was rescued from a testing site, and whose face looked almost exactly like my beagle at home.

She wants everyone to know that all animals have personalities and quirks, just like humans. As Whitman writes, we are all “disintegrated, yet part of the scheme," all living beings share this earth and we are all equally entitled to a dignified life. She talked about many individuals she has encountered, including a pig who recently gave birth and a rescued ape with a foot fetish.

One of her many photographs depicts a woman and an ape touching hands through bars (the human is in the cage). It reminds me of the poem "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night," where Whitman forms a connection with a fallen soldier, and later gives him a burial to the best of his abilities. He uses physical touch to make the connection, and while this touch makes Whitman empathize with a single unknown soldier on a battleground that holds thousands of bodies, McArthur’s photograph illustrates the connection between the two individuals and shows the ape’s ability to forgive and love humans, despite everything they have done. It captures a grandiosely intimate moment, and as Whitman writes, “I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy, / To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.”

For Whitman, the Civil War was a time of destruction, bloodshed, and unnecessary death; thousands of animals face similarly gruesome deaths every day. This isn't the vicious wilderness where animals live in their natural habitats up until the moment a lion kills them in minutes; instead, the true suffering occurs in the small cages minks are forced to live in their entire lives, and in the inadequate conditions and painful procedures animals face before their deaths, such as filthy living spaces, physical mutilation, and electrocution. Only when we finally understand that all human and nonhuman animals are a part of Whitman’s collective community, and we understand that all lives are just as valid as our own, can true change occur and unnecessary suffering can end.

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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