The Value of Learning from Those Around You

The Value of Learning from Those Around You

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Over the past four years that I’ve been in college, I have had the privilege to learn about so many different concepts, people, ideas, etc. I have had awesome professors who have taught me to see different sides of issues and look at things objectively. While I’ve learned a lot in my classes, I have to say that most of the ideas and viewpoints I have adopted have been shaped by the knowledge I have received from those around me. College has given me the opportunity to meet so many different types of people with different backgrounds and ideologies. I am influenced every day by my peers. This has by far been my favorite thing about being a college student, and something that I think everyone should get the chance to experience.

Coming into college, most people have established some core values and ideas that they live their life by. Often, people are very passionate about these views, and this sometimes prevents them from being open to views that may differ from their own. While this level of passion is admirable, closing yourself off from new things is detrimental. It inhibits learning, stifles progress, and promotes ignorance. Now, there is nothing wrong with ignorance in itself. It is simply a state of not knowing or being uninformed. Most people are ignorant about a variety of things, and if you think you’re an exception, I’m sorry to tell you that you are not. I am willing to admit that I am ignorant about quite a few things, but I am always seeking more knowledge. Where ignorance becomes harmful is when you are unwilling to learn. So many people put their metaphorical blinders on and ignorantly go about their lives reluctant to receive any new information that does not align with what they believe. Some people even go so far as to judge and persecute others because of these differences in mindset.

When we see people exhibit hate against someone solely because the person is different from them, this can almost certainly be attributed to ignorance and/or being highly misinformed. Even though we have come so far, we still see so much hate towards the “other”. For example, our treatment of Muslims in this country. There is still such a strong sense of hate and distrust for these people, and it is exhibited far too often. I will bet that about 90 percent of the people that have these attitudes are incredibly ignorant about Islam and many of the cultures connected to it. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed people mistake being Muslim as an ethnic identification rather than a religious one. Most people also assume that being from a Middle Eastern country automatically makes you Muslim or that you have to have ancestry from that region to identify with Islam, which is also incorrect.

It’s amusing, actually, to see people react so passionately about something that they don’t have a clue about. But even more than how amusing it is, is how sad and discouraging it is. Just imagine how many stereotypes and negative attitudes could be debunked if everyone just made a conscientious effort to talk to those different from them.

So much can come from doing our own research and relying on our own experiences/interactions with other people. We can learn something from everyone around us. Even if someone’s views don’t agree with our own we can still learn from them. We might even learn enough to change our own views.

Cover Image Credit: theworldcafe.com

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

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How My FBLA NLC Experience Shifted my perspective

Certain experiences might just end up rewarding you in more ways than one.

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Last week, I traveled with a group of fellow students from my local chapter to Baltimore for the 2018 FBLA National Leadership Conference.

If you don't know what FBLA means, it technically stands for Future Business Leaders of America, but in actuality, it means much more than that. FBLA is a national organization that gives students the chance to connect with like-minded people while fostering the skills they need to become successful leaders. The three pillars of the FBLA experience are leadership, community service, and competitive events, the last of which allows members to test their proficiency in a certain area at the regional, state, and national levels.

My FBLA story began during my freshman year, when my Marketing teacher's shameless promotion of the club, which she herself was an advisor for, compelled me to attend a meeting. I had already decided I would likely pursue a career in business, so it was simple logic that made me think the club would be a good fit for me, which it certainly was. I've grown exponentially more involved in the club over the past year, and I've devoted much of my time to the club's leadership duties and competitions.

Throughout this period, I often visualized myself at nationals as a form of incentive to perform well at the more local levels, but I always recognized the idea as an unlikely outcome. Still, the hope was there.

Now I am SO grateful for all I experienced in the past year that gave me the opportunity to attend FBLA Nationals this summer.


My school's trip to NLC began with a free day to roam through Washington, D.C., as we stopped at all the major monuments for photo ops and skimmed through a series of museums. Though it wasn't my first time in D.C., it was cool to visit the city as a teenager, having more knowledge about American history and whatnot. Despite the unfortunate rain we experienced throughout the day, it was an interesting day trip and a satisfying precursor to the actual conference.

The next day was our first at the conference, which I mostly used to study for my competitive event test, which I would be taking the next day. The Georgia FBLA officers and alumni were all extremely helpful and friendly, which served as great encouragement for our late night studying.

The day after, I finally knocked out my test, which I actually thought was relatively easy thanks to my intense studying. From that moment I had two days to freely enjoy the event itself and explore the city of Baltimore. We spent part of our days at the conference, attending insightful workshops and watching a handful of stunning student presentations.

Our evenings we spent around the city, from paddle boating in the harbor to wandering the city for a cheap place to eat. No matter the activity, I was thoroughly enjoying my time away from home, making new friends with other members and spending more times with the ones I had.

As the last day came to a close, my nerves worsened acutely as we neared the time for the awards ceremony, where I would find out how I placed in my event, if at all. Swirling through the back of my mind were about a dozen worries I couldn't quite shake off: What if I didn't place in the top ten? What if everyone found it easy? Should I have checked my answers more thoroughly?

As the ceremony got closer and closer to announcing my event, my shoulders tensed and my teeth began to grind. I guess my worst fear at that moment was my name not being called, meaning I would have no idea how I did or what I did wrong or if my studying was even worth it.

Then, the most surreal few minutes of life resulted in my standing onstage and receiving the First Place trophy for Introduction to Business Procedures. I was in total disbelief and utterly confused, so much so that I later checked a recording and realized I HAD FORGOTTEN TO SHAKE THE PRESENTER'S HAND. Which is obviously what you're supposed to do. How hilarious. I literally grabbed the award from her hands and walked off with a weirdly faint smile. Oops.

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is, I should remember to shake people's hands. Oh, and also, don't sell yourself short. Hard work and dedication go a long way, and confidence should just come as a byproduct of those two.

The most important thing is: even if I hadn't ended the conference with that surprising victory, the experience would have been nonetheless incredible. You don't need to receive recognition to realize you have value, and the relationships you make along the way are what will continue to give back throughout your life. My FBLA Nationals experience was truly one to remember, and I'm most grateful for those friends I know I'll never forget.

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