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Editorials represent the opinion of the individual writer. The "Green and Gold" welcomes letters to the editor and reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity and content. If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail our staff at greenandgold@wesleyanschool.org .

High School According to de Tocqueville

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In “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville explicates the ills of the American dream, describing citizens of abundant democracies (Americans in particular) as melancholy slaves to success. My studies of de Tocqueville’s work in Jonathan Koch’s 10th grade English class turned out to be some of the most compelling and impactful curriculum I have engaged in at Wesleyan, and “Democracy in America” applies even to my high school career more than I ever thought it would.

Looking back on this captivating slice of my American Literature class, I’ve come to realize that my fascination with de Tocqueville’s writing is the result of relatable, applicable content that transcends the capricious fluctuations of American Culture. What de Tocqueville had to say will always be relevant, and it applies all too well to the life of a Wesleyan student.

De Tocqueville observed the irony of the American Dream; ambitious capitalists of the early 19th century worked so tirelessly to achieve an archetypal model of success that by the time they got what they wanted, they were dead. Here we are in the early 21st century, and nothing has changed. Americans have glorified the ideal lifestyle profusely, and our efforts to achieve this societal standard often dominate our existence so much that we never taste the fruits of our labor. At some point, the American Dream gets in the way of experiencing the American Dream, and if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves caught in a similar paradox as high school students.

Simply put, the American Dream goes something like this: graduate high school with a 4.0, relish in the “college experience,” establish a successful career, get married, start a family, make lots of money and then retire in Florida. This “dream” has evolved into a mundane list of achievements and milestones. We tenaciously strive to fit one mold after another until the American Dream is complete. Then, when we are finally retired at the ripe old age of 60, as we kick back in our rocking chairs and reflect on our success, we’ll realize that we’ve been so busy doing everything that we haven’t really done anything. We were so busy being successful that we forgot to make an impact or serve a purpose. We forgot to do something that actually matters, and we’ll feel empty. Most importantly, we’ll have forgotten to have fun.

Perhaps as a high school student at Wesleyan, you’re working to figure out where you fit in as a freshman, and by the time you do that, you’ll already be a sophomore. Then you might work so hard as a sophomore to accomplish something significant athletically that by the time you finish that, you’ll already be a junior. Then as a junior you’ll turn your focus toward academics, and as a senior, you’ll try to get into college. All the while, trying to fit in socially and portray a perfect Wesleyan student. No matter what endeavors you pursue in high school, don’t let them consume these four years of your life. Look around once in a while to enjoy where you are.

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He Said; She Said: Christmas vs. Thanksgiving

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He Said:

by Will Harper

Christmas is widely referred to as the most wonderful time of the year for a reason. For those of you who are not familiar with superlatives, this means that it is the absolute best part of the year, and no other time is better. Therefore, Christmas is better than Thanksgiving, and that’s all there is to it.

Well… I suppose I can expound a little bit. Barring the resurrection, Christmas represents the most miraculous and joyful event in the history of the world. Never mind the fact that Christmas is ridden with historical inaccuracy, superficiality and greed. It really is a beautiful occasion. Though I am a firm believer that this glorious holiday is in need of a little reform, I am still confident that Christmas is a truly wonderful thing. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Though we often lose sight of this among the wrapping paper, it is amazing when we slow down to recognize the original purpose of our favorite holiday. Christmas brings unity unlike any other occurrence in so many ways. Christmas brings families together from across the country. It unites strangers in public with the simple phrase “Merry Christmas.” Christmas brings together the Church and encourages generosity. On top of the more meaningful benefits of Christmas, it also provides familiar festivities that fill people of all ages with excitement. Christmas trees, hot chocolate, mall Santa, Christmas movies, stockings, reindeer, lights, music and more create an atmosphere at Christmas time that cannot be beat.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a real bummy holiday. Who cares about the pilgrims and Native Americans? All that Thanksgiving really has to offer is a good meal. Christmas is so much more. Christmas completely transforms the entire month of December. Turkey Day has a cute parade and some cranberry sauce. I’m not knocking Thanksgiving, and in fact, I thoroughly enjoy the food, football and naps. That being said, it is absolutely ridiculous to compare any holiday to the wonders of Christmas.

 

 

She Said:

by Emma Parrish

Turkey, ham, gravy, stuffing, pie, family, friends, these are just some of the few wonderful facets of the greatest American holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. Christmas is one of the last breaks before the long winter sets in and Thanksgiving gets the holiday festivities started.
During Thanksgiving, the leaves are still falling and one can still enjoy the crisp fall air. From as early as five-years-old, you begin to learn about the pilgrims settling on Plymouth Rock and having the first original Thanksgiving. You aren’t taught about Christmas in school, are you now? First of all, on Thanksgiving, you have no pressure to give gifts and are relieved of the stress of buying them and coordinating them for every friend and family member. During Christmas season people spend hours in crowded shopping malls spending thousands on gifts. After Thanksgiving, Black Friday rolls around and all hell breaks loose. We’ve all seen it on the news, people being trampled in Walmart trying to get the latest and greatest electronic, and even some waiting in lines or camping out in front of stores just to ensure they get the gift they need. Now how ridiculous is that? According to Marshall Jones, “Thanksgiving promotes gratitude. Instead of asking people what they want or got for Christmas, you get to ask what people are thankful for. And that, by itself, is a reason to be thankful. And love it.” Most importantly, Thanksgiving is a holiday where you have an excuse to eat as much food as you want for an entire day. There is no shame in feeling guilty about it because everyone else is doing it too. But wait, it gets even better: naps. The endearing food coma you slip into after you have eaten your own weight for both lunch and dinner ends the day on a high note. You have a valid excuse to be as lazy as you want for an entire day. The Christmas excitement ends in the morning once you’ve opened all your gifts. The Thanksgiving excitement lasts you for days on end because you will have more leftovers than you can imagine.

It is clear that Thanksgiving has many more perks than Christmas so you may want to rethink your answer the next time you tell someone Christmas is even somewhat better.

Celebrate Christmas with a Spirit of Generosity

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. As a child, Christmas means one thing: presents. Of course there are a lot of exciting festivities surrounding the presents, but ripping the paper off a new Xbox is really the main event. Society has taken the holy concept of celebrating our Savior’s birth and reformed it into a celebration of greed laden with irony. At what point did people start to make Christmas less about Jesus and more about us? I’m not here to point fingers, nor will I assert that I am not guilty of going about Christmas the wrong way, but maybe it would be worth-while to rethink one of our favorite holidays.

According to ABC News, each year, Americans spend approximately $465 billion on Christmas. All that money is for Jesus, right? Giving gifts is not intrinsically bad, but it becomes a problem when we take advantage of  one of the most glorious events in human history as an excuse to cultivate our lust for material things. Not only is it wasteful and greedy to make Christmas so focused on ourselves and our free stuff, but it also sends a controversial message.

Scripture is pretty clear on these two things among others. Avarice is bad, and Jesus is good. If this is true, and Christians seek to adhere to the Word of God, then why do Christians see Christmas as a chance to glorify avarice and subdue the gospel. Obviously, no one actually enters the holiday season with such malicious intent, but if someone who had never heard of Christmas saw the way we go about celebrating the birth of Jesus, he or she would likely be overwhelmed and confused.

I am not suggesting that we stop giving gifts or going to sit on Santa’s lap, but perhaps we could consider a more modest holiday. Can you imagine the positive impact that $465 billion could have if it were devoted to charitable causes? If we’re not careful, children will be more enticed by Santa’s offer of a Red Ryder BB gun than Jesus’ offer of salvation.

The importancChristmas Fireplacee of approaching the Christmas season with the right attitude and heart cannot be underestimated, and this is an area where many of us need to reconsider our favorite holiday, but there is still a lot of good left in Christmas. While we often over-do it, gift giving is at its core a very beautiful, selfless thing.

In addition to the generosity we often express toward our family and friends during the holidays, Christmas also encourages a lot of generosity focused towards people in need. I’m not just talking about the Salvation Army guy ringing his bell outside Target. A lot of soup kitchens, shelters and the like make an extra effort to be generous during Christmas. With so much extra joy to go around during the holidays, people are often more willing to seek out opportunities to help others.

Furthermore, Christmas also encourages unparalleled family bonding time. Late December is one of the busiest travelling times of the year for a reason. People are willing to put forth a lot of energy, time and money to be with family during this special time. Families come together from all across the country and even the world to celebrate the birth of a savior with praise and generosity.

Clearly, the concept of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but it is far too easy to twist things around and make the holidays about us. If Christians really made an effort to approach Christmas with a selfless attitude, the impact could be enormous. Christmas is still a season centered around hope, and I have not lost hope for what remains my favorite holiday, but I am confident that Christmas could improve tremendously with a shift in thinking. By turning our focus away from ourselves and towards the real reason for Christmas, we can transform a time of greed into a true celebration of Jesus.

Christian Life Theme of the Month

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Continuing on the quest of Christian identity, the Christian life theme for the months of November to December have changed to even more specific Christian traits. The theme for November is “you are a new creation.” The theme for December is “you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

The verses for November are 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Corinthians 4:16, and Revelation chapter 21. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 4:16 states, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Revelation chapter 21 talks about the new heaven and new earth. All of these verses relate to Christians being new creations.

The verses for December’s theme of “you are a temple of the Holy Spirit” are 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 states, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

When asked about the relevance to the themes of the year as a whole, Christian Life director, Greg Lisson said, “As you cross over into somebody who is follower of Christ, now there are some new things that are part of your identity. One, you are a new creation. Next, a pretty well-known one is you are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We are trying to build on what it looks like to be a follower of Christ.” When asked how December’s theme relates to Christmas, Lisson said “I did choose this theme on purpose because when you talk about God dwelling in you, it also reminds me of God dwelling among us which is what the incarnation of God is.” While not a direct relation, it still reminds Christians that God came to earth as a man so that we could gain salvation.

Healthy Use of Technology Maximizes Efficiency

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“What ever happened to predictability? The milk man, the paper boy and evening TV?” I think it is safe to say that the concept of a designated man dropping off milk at everyone’s doorstep each week is a little bit outdated, but the opening line of the Full House theme song still poses an intriguing question that is worth addressing. Whatever happened to human interaction without technology?

This catchy tune preceding Bob Saget’s claim to fame makes us ask ourselves what about our world is changing so quickly, and are things really better this way. The remainder of the song is really about community. We are often so distracted by new technology and all the busyness in our world that we forget to look around at the people we love.

TechnologyIt seems like a new form of technology is released with every passing moment. If cell phones weren’t enough to prevent us from making dinner conversation, now we have our watches to look at. It blows my mind that anyone would ever feel the need to check Instagram on their watch. Before you know it, they’ll be making shoes with built in TV screens. The world we live in is so cluttered by technology that we sometimes spend more time looking at screens than reality.

Too many teenagers (and probably adults, too) have allowed social media and Netflix to consume their lives. On any given day, a Wesleyan student could wake up and check all of his social media outlets before he even brushes his teeth. Then perhaps he’ll watch a little TV before leaving the house. At school, he will spend hours staring at his computer screen and checking his phone whenever he gets the chance. After a long, hard day at school, he will come home and watch two hours of Netflix before doing his homework on his computer- all the while checking his phone every 30 seconds for texts, Groupme notifications or anything else to bolster his popularity.

Though it is intended to maximize efficiency, the technology-focused way of life that society has built creates a slew of seriously concerning problems. Children born in this decade will grow up playing with an iPad before they learn how to tie their shoes. Because technology is placed in the hands of young children, they begin to rely on it at far too young of an age.

I got my first cell phone when I was 13, and older generations always told me about how they didn’t have one until they were in college. Today, some kids are getting their first cell phone at the age of six, and no one thinks twice about it. Kids are learning to text each other well before they’ve developed strong social skills. Although, it might be fair to say that social skills themselves have changed. Perhaps the person with the strongest social skills is no longer the one who looks you in the eye when you’re talking, but the one who sends the most appropriately worded text message with the proper emoji’s.

Not only have we begun to overuse technology for communication purposes, but we have also learned to depend on on technology as our source of self-worth. Ordinary compliments have turned into “likes” and “favorites.” Our culture wants to create comparison in every way possible. If we aren’t competing to see who has the most likes, we are fighting for more notifications so we can proclaim our popularity.

As I’m sure you’re well-aware, technology has even created a new platform for bullying. The days of stealing lunch money are long gone. If a modern bully wants to rid himself of insecurity, he composes a “roast” on “Rapchat” to make fun of one or more of his peers.

Isn’t it ironic that I am typing this article on my computer for you, the reader, to view online? This addiction is inescapable. Our modern world has us all hooked, and there is really no way out. That being said, technology doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Just remember to look at something palpable every now and then, and don’t forget to breath. Turn your phone off every once in a while, and enjoy each other’s company. Realize that sometimes the technology that was created to increase efficiency actually makes our lives extraordinarily inefficient. Let every technological device you use be a productive tool rather than a distraction, and don’t let your phone replace your friends. Because after all, everywhere you look, there’s a heart.

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